Unexpectedly Missing Home

Unexpectedly Missing Home in Thailand

Six months ago, I put all my mittens, scarves and boots in a box and stored them away. I found the biggest suitcase I could and loaded it with flip-flops, shorts and tank tops. I didn’t think I would miss the changing of the seasons one bit.

Six months later, as I’m sweating like a s’more over an open fire, I retract the statement I made to my family and friends that “I won’t miss Chicago weather at all.”

You know what they say; we all want what we can’t have. We take it for granted when we have it and miss it when we don’t.

I never expected to get homesick. I didn’t when I studied abroad. Nor when I traveled to Europe or South America. I was always comfortable in other countries. I especially didn’t expect to crave cheap delivery pizza, or to miss morning rollerblading through the park, Sunday brunches, patio parties or Cubs’ games, but it happened–just when I’d been living in Bangkok for six months.

I think this is because the summer in Chicago is just beginning. It’s my favorite time of year. Everybody crawls out of winter hibernation and the fun begins. It’s like a race; you have to fit everything into the short window that is the Chicago summer.

While in Bangkok, the weather stays the same: hot, hot and hotter. I can’t help but ache for that cool spring air and the breeze that blows at night on the lakefront. They have a word in Thai: ben sabay, which means pleasantly cool, and as I was learning the word, I got goose bumps just craving that weather. Not the rush of an air conditioner, which is the only sense of cool I get these days.

You know what they say; we all want what we can’t have. We take it for granted when we have it and miss it when we don’t.

Unexpectedly missing mome in Thailand

For me, the decision to move to Bangkok happened very fast. I fell in love, uprooted my life, found a new job and a new apartment. I started learning a new language, immersing myself into a new culture, and trying new food. Getting the grip on a new environment, finding new friends and new routines. New. New. New.

And before I knew it, there were six months behind me and six months ahead of me, and I couldn’t believe how quickly the time had gone. Until now, there was no time to reflect. Six months in, I feel like I haven’t been here long at all, and like time is running out. Have I done enough? Should I be looking forward or back?

Questions gnaw at me. What will I do when the six months end and when the contract at my school expires? What do I still want to learn about Thailand, while in Thailand? Who have I become in this experience and who do I want to be?

To cope with all of these feelings, I am diving into my hobbies. In Bangkok, activities are much cheaper than they are at home. I went rock climbing and tried aerial yoga. I subscribed to a Bangkok magazine with events, activities and meet ups. I found free things to do like yoga in the park. I am filling up my schedule, taking language classes and staying busy. To stay connected to friends and family back home, I send postcards and write about my experiences.

They have a word in Thai: ben sabay, which means pleasantly cool, and as I was learning the word, I got goose bumps just craving that weather.

You know when you are sitting on the edge of a hot tub, legs dangling, and then sliding in one toe at a time, then your feet, then legs, until you are completely submerged in the hot tub? Even though you went in slowly you’re still uncomfortable for a few minutes before your body adjusts to the temperature. That’s what moving abroad has felt like and now that I am in the hot tub with everything figured out, I need to sit down, relax and enjoy it.

I still miss my big group of friends and family, and I still feel a little isolated. But I will take pride in the fact that I teach at a Japanese school, live in Thailand and am dating an Italian man. I soak up the diversity I am surrounded by. I relish in the fact that I am a blonde, blue-eyed girl in a sea of dark hair and dark eyes. I’ll try new foods, travel to new places, learn new words and use the next six months in Thailand to dive a little deeper into that hot tub.

 

Unexpectedly Missing Home  //  Missing Home Abroad

About Kirsten Iverson

Kirsten IversonKirsten is an ESL Kindergarten Teacher in Bangkok, Thailand. Sick of freezing winters, short summers and an office with no window she moved to Asia to teach and travel. She can be found on the back of a motorbike taxi hanging on for dear life, trying to order coconut shakes in Thai or lounging by the pool.

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