As of today, it’s been two months since I moved to Bangkok, Thailand. Having never visited Asia before, I don’t really know why I thought it was a good idea. I just knew I needed to get out, and I’m glad I did.
Here are 12 things I’ve learned since moving to the other side of the world that I think 50-year-old Justin will thank me for:
1. I’m alright.
Moving to an entirely new country and attempting to start a social life while knowing absolutely no one was rather intimidating. Not one person knew a thing about me, but just saw me as the new kid from California. Whatever anyone thought next of me next came entirely from how I projected myself. Talk about pressure at a time when I was thinking it would just be nice to have more than zero friends. Considering that, since being here I’ve interacted with a total of two people who aren’t multiple years older than me, I could initially feel a huge sense of inadequacy and insecurity. Like, why would these people want to be my weirdself’s friend? After a couple weeks here, I realized that just being myself, liking the things I like, and being a decent person goes a long way, and I may actually be more cool than I feel inwardly.
2. Not everyone has the same values.
I’ve learned that people want different things out of life. Marriage, kids, security, family, love, commitment, comfort, and money all hold varying values from person to person. What’s important to someone else can hold no worth to me and vice versa. Realizing that I’m actually allowed to determine what’s important to me and what I value based off of what makes me happy and fulfills me, rather than just because I’m supposed to, was mind-blowing.
3. There is still some good in people.
Last month I went to a music festival located a few hours from Bangkok with a couple friends. Seeing as the onsite camping spots were taken, we ended up having to get a hotel room 40 minutes from the festival. Long story short, the first night there I ended up leaving the festival at 6 a.m. completely stranded with no friends, phone battery, or method of transportation back to the hotel, which I unfortunately didn’t know the name of or the city it was located in. After walking for three hours, I found a family who owned a little market on the side of the road. Without being able to speak more than a couple words to them, they ended up giving me a ride in the back of their truck until I saw something that looked familiar. They wouldn’t take my money, but gave me a smile instead.
I’m not a worrier - to a fault. But as you can imagine, being stranded in the middle of a foreign country with no phone and essentially no idea where to go can be a little scary. Their kindness to a complete stranger, with no expectation of anything in return, brought me a ton of comfort and will be remembered during my interactions with others until I go to the grave.
4. Music connects.
I’m convinced the music listened to during Jr. High holds a special place in everyone’s heart. One of my favorite times here was spending Valentine’s Day drinking on the street in front of some temple with a couple new friends, comparing and singing along to our emo playlists for hours. We’ve been best friends since, and I have our mutual, lingering teenage angst to thank for that.
5. People are important.
Living in potentially the craziest city in the world and being able to visit so many beautiful and unique places is the stuff dreams are made of. However, as great as my environment is and for as many new experiences as I’ve had, my favorite memories come because of the people involved. Life is nothing without people to share it with.
6. Appreciate things for what they are.
One of the things that sucks the absolute most about living here is that everything is temporary. I’ve made numerous friends who have already left and I know I will never see again. I know that no matter how well established I get here, I too will also have to leave. Every friendship, and everything I do is temporary. This thought was a bit depressing until I realized that, even if they don’t last, I can simply appreciate things and experience them for what they are.
7. Mosquitos are not friends.
Last night got a little weird and I ended up sleeping by my friend’s pool. The mosquitos were apparently out in full force and I woke up thinking I had finally gotten chicken pox. I soon realized I was just dumb enough to let myself be completely devoured. I have yet to stop itching myself and my face looks like a pubescent boy prior to discovering Proactiv.
9. Loneliness happens.
It’s currently 7 p.m. and I have yet to say a word of English today. I’ve left my studio apartment twice. Sometimes I’m just lonely and miss my family and friends from home. That’s alright. I can’t always depend on people to make me happy. I’d rather learn a sense of self-sufficiency.
10. I have value even when I don’t feel it.
In order to pay the bills while I’m out here, I teach. I’m not a teacher, and I swear, six months ago I would've never dreamed I’d be putting that on a resume. Teaching 30 teenagers who hardly speak my language can be overwhelming and incredibly draining sometimes, and despite how I feel, all I can do is try my best to be of some worth to these kids.
It was on my most miserable day since being here that one of my students came up to me after class and gave me a keychain he had gotten from the local market. Why a keychain? I’ll never know, but he said he wanted to thank me because he was having so much fun during class and his English had been improving since I started. After seriously hating my life and questioning everything all day, he encouraged me more than he could know. It was a great reminder that even when I don’t feel any value in myself and question my purpose in doing the things I do, others may appreciate me just doing my best and I may be able to impact them without even knowing it.
11. Vegan burgers just aren’t as good as the real thing. Sorry.
12. I am capable.
Moving to a new country, knowing no one, not having a place to live, and not knowing the language was a little intimidating. Two months later, I’ve adapted to the point of feeling at home, have made great friends, managed to stay alive, and just signed a new contract for a more ideal job with better pay. I can confidently say I’m taking good care of myself and am capable of more than I would’ve realized if I had remained comfortable at home.
P.S. Thanks for reading. For more pictures hit me up on the social media @tiltdaddy