The first part of this article can be found on http://geovisions.org/blog/,
but for those of you seeing this for the first time, here’s a quick rundown…
Notifying your bank, hugging your dog, leaving a forwarding address, and figuring out what to do with your car are just some of the million things to check off your list before going abroad. It can feel a little like jumping through endless flaming hoops.
When I left for Thailand, I thought I had nailed them all. After being here for a year though, now when I look back I realize there are some things I should have known, and some things I definitely should have done before leaving.
So just like the title says, here are five things I wish I would have known or done before moving to Thailand.
#1 Pack lighter!
I say pack lighter because I already knew to pack light. Fantasies of boarding the plane with nothing more than a backpack were tossed out the window as soon as I realized that entailed parting with my favorite T- shirt.
My backpack daydream had become me, shuttling around a hulking luggage bag, a guitar, and a laptop. My first month in Asia was spent getting off planes, into taxies, and running across bus stations looking like an overbooked amateur juggler.
Now that I’m here and settled in, I realized I probably could have gotten away with bringing just a few professional looking outfits, and a couple clothes to wear outside of school.
#2 Teach my grandma how to use Skype
I’m not the most tech savy millennial on the planet, but compared to my grandmother, I am Neo from the Matrix. Skype is free! Plus, with Skype, I would be able to see my Grandma’s beautiful smile. Trying to explain how to use Skype to my grandparents over the phone though, turned out feeling a lot like a scene out of some terrible thriller flick where the FBI bomb squad radios Stevie Wonder and tells him to cut the red wire.
So yeah, leave Skype instructions for any relatives still convinced the internet is a goofy fad.
Oh, and while you’re at it…
#3 Type a list of all your relative’s addresses and contact information.
The month before I left for Thailand, my parent’s moved. Before I left, my bank asked for an American forwarding address, and I gave them my parent’s new address. I haven’t been able to remember it since.
Aside from being tied to my debit card, I have needed that address for just about everything here, and on more one occasion have ran across town just to get it off my laptop.
Also, you’re going to want to send your relatives postcards and Christmas souvenir gifts. It definitely helps to have all of their addresses ahead of time.
#3.5 Pack a good neck pillow
#4 Your language books might be outdated.
I took a month off work before I moved to Thailand. There were three things I wanted to accomplish, hang out with all my friends and family, clean everything out of my apartment, and learn to speak Thai.
Well not only was learning conversational Thai in one month a hilarious expectation, but my 1985 Into to Thai Language book was also painfully outdated.
I had learned to speak Spanish pretty well from working at a Mexican restaurant all through high school, so I was excited to learn Thai. Maybe knowing Spanish led me on to think I would have an easy time learning Thai.
Turns out, I couldn’t be more wrong!
While my all of youtube videos, language apps, and book efforts certainly helped with learning the language, it’s a long process that can be discouraging at times.
I live in Northeastern Thailand, where they speak a Laos Thai mixed dialect called Isan. This meant that not only were my Thai Language books outdated, but they also barely pertained to the dialect in my area. Despite countless embarrassing communication failures, learning the Language has been a rewarding and fun experience.
I guess what I’m really trying to say is, don’t build any expectations for the language because it might sound totally different when you actually arrive.
#5 You might stay longer than you planned
My girlfriend Krissy and I said we were going to come to Thailand for one year. We’ve now been here longer than a year, and we just signed another 4 -month contract with our school. It’s a big commitment to move your entire life across the globe. Since being here, Krissy and I have made new friends, gotten rooted in our school, and picked up financial plans for our phones and apartment.
We have had many friends go home after just a couple of months in Thailand, but we also have lots of friends who have been in the country for over a year, and will stay here for a few more.
You build a life wherever you go, and for us, one year is too soon to abandon what we’ve built.
If you enjoyed reading this post, click here to read about some of the awesome day-to-day joys that keeps Krissy and I living in Thailand.