With the new year right around the corner, I like to look back on the previous year. I always wonder where the year has gone and what did I do with that year. 2015 was a good year; I accomplished a lot.
It took me to nine countries: China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and back to the USA. Along the way I met some amazing people who will be life long friends and future travel buddies. In two of those countries (China and Thailand) I have been a teacher, though each experience is unique. I also completed my TEFL certification (along with the young learner, business learner, and grammar endorsements) so internationally I am a qualified English language teacher.
My teaching experience in China was a little rough. I was teaching primary school, and just because you can fit 45 first graders in a classroom does not mean you should put 45 first graders in a classroom. There were bad days when the students would throw things at me, or beat each other up (there was blood one time), or had pillow fights, or would try to escape out the window, or would sneak out of class, or would draw on each other, or would stick markers up their noses, or would just plain not listen and do other homework. There were good days when the students would actually learn English, when we would play games and sing songs, when the students would ask my favorite color 100 times and I would always answer because they were using their English.
There was one student, his name was Henry. Henry loved English. He came up to me one day and said “you hair is yellow, I hair is black. Confused.” He really stumped me and made me proud for using what he knew. I certainly learned a lot, and not just about teaching but about other cultures and people, and about myself.
Thailand has been a very different experience than China (as you have read). I have learned a lot here too. I have learned I need to be more assertive in the classroom when I try to manage it, I need to use my big girl authority voice to get the kids to be quiet. There are probably other places in my life where I need to be more assertive too. I have also learned how to travel by myself. If you had told me at the beginning of 2015 I would be traveling around by myself I would have thought you crazy.
But it’s true. It is a scary and awesome thing. Traveling by myself makes me feel mature and confident, yet it also scares me because solo female travelers are easy targets. I think being scared helps keep me alert so I don’t get in to unfortunate situations. Solo travel is also lonely, when I have an experience, I want to share it with someone but no one is there. Good thing I have a blog so I can share everything with everyone now. You also spend a lot of time with yourself when you travel alone, which seems like a silly statement. However, when you travel there aren’t as many distractions so you had better get along with yourself because you are your own company. Though, you are also more open to meeting new people when traveling by yourself. When in a group you can sometimes get in a rut of staying with your group and not branching out. Solo travel has definitely gotten me out of my comfort zone and I think I’m enjoying it.
I also did some cool stuff with scuba diving. As of right now, I have done 19 dives. This year I invested in my own equipment because I love diving. I also completed the bouyancy course, working on my control underwater. Someday I want to be a dive master, maybe even a dive instructor. I could live in Thailand and teach people to dive.
2016 is right around the corner. My news years resolution is to make 2016 better than 2015. It sounds like a challenge but I am up for it. The funny thing is, in Thailand it will be 2559. Since they are a Buddhist country they are 543 years in the future since the Buddha was born 543 years before Jesus. My 2016 resolution is a little behind the times I suppose.
Happy 2016 Susan, may it be everything you hope for & more.