I am back in the U.S. and it feels surreal to think that I just spent five months living in Bangkok. After my traveling this year, it scares me a bit how easily I move between locations and stages of life–since August 28th when I left my hometown for my first travel experience my schedule has been: Boston, Amsterdam, Kenya, Tanzania, Kenya, Amsterdam, Germany, Amsterdam, Boston, Thailand, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Thailand, India, Thailand, London, Brussels, London, Boston, and soon onto DC. I haven’t had the “ah ha, I was in Thailand” moment, which I think will come once I start going through all of my pictures.
After leaving Bangkok I spent a week and a half traveling in London and Belgium visiting my family. I had my “oh my gosh I’m not in Bangkok anymore” moment, when I got caught at Buckingham Palace in the freezing cold, in the midst of a ceremony practice for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Red coats, black fuzzy hats and all, I was surely not in Bangkok anymore.
Throughout this time, however, and since catching up with friends at home, I am constantly asked “so how has this year, or this semester changed you?” I can’t put it into grand and poetic terms, so I will keep it simple:
1. I got home, and was embarrassed and appalled at how many clothes I had in my closet. So I cleaned out the whole thing and since then have given two bags of clothes to Goodwill.
2. Before this year, I had every intention of moving to London after graduation to pursue some sort of career there. Now I think more likely that I would move to Bangkok or somewhere in Africa.
3. I want to learn: read books, travel, talk to people as much as I can to learn as many different things as possible.
4. I will never ever complain that 85 degree weather in Massachusetts is “hot.”
5. “May pen ray” is my new favorite motto. It’s the Thai version of “hakuna matata,” meaning no worries, take it easy, everything is okay, no sweat. It is Thailand’s slogan, and truly governs the Thai lifestyle. And despite being extremely organized, and a very Type A personality, this is something I have really embodied this year. Just go with the flow. It doesn’t matter. No worries. Take it easy. Adapt to the situation. Love every minute of it. Don’t think too too much about “what if.” Just relax, and enjoy it.
I just hope once I am back in the grind at Richmond, or even working on my internship this summer, that I can continue to keep “may pen ray” in mind. It really is a great way of living!