I’m sitting in my bed in my little house in my little village re-writing this blog post for what seems like the hundredth time. I haven’t posted in a long time because I don’t know what to write. I haven’t exactly been living the typical “Peace Corps life” over the past six weeks. Should I write about what’s been going on since my last post? Should I only update about things that have happened in my village? How honest should I be with what I’ve been going through? All questions I think about when considering what to write. I enjoy blogging and updating everyone back home, but recently I’ve been struggling with how to put everything into words.
I’ll start with about six weeks ago, when I had to go to Bangkok to see the Peace Corps doctor. I began (once again) having stomach problems, and after not one, but two antibiotics failed to help, I had to make the trek to Bangkok to see if maybe there was another problem, like a parasite. (I did eat some suspicious-looking chicken right at the start of all of this). This began a month of back-and-forth trips to Bangkok, where I hardly spent any time in my village.
While a lot of my time in Bangkok was spent in various doctors’ offices and hospitals, a lot of it was also spent with fellow PCVs who were there for medical reasons, several PCVs from different countries that I was lucky enough to meet, and new friends that I met in a few different places (shout out to Mulligan’s Irish Pub and Bed Station Hostel!) I began to feel at home in Bangkok, and not in my village. I began to love these people who I was spending time with. I couldn’t anticipate how hard and actually heartbreaking it would be to say good-bye.
Being back in my village now, I realize how much I desperately miss good conversation and independence and anonymity. Anonymity: something I never thought about before coming to Thailand. I took this for granted at home, but here, in my small village, people always look at the tall blonde girl with white skin. People always talk about the “farang” and know my every move. When my stomach problems started, people I had never met before came up to me to ask if I’m still having diarrhea from that grilled chicken I ate last Friday for lunch at the restaurant on the side of the highway 304… My privacy, my anonymity, were left in the United States.
Coming here, I knew that I would have to deal with loneliness and isolation. I knew the Thai language would be challenging. I knew adapting to the food and the weather and the culture would be difficult. I wish I could say that I’ve been excelling at dealing with all these things, but truthfully it has been a lot harder than I anticipated.
I question myself daily…Why am I here? What were my reasons for coming in the first place? Can I really live here for 22 more months? Will I even make the impact I had hoped to make? The first two questions have long and complicated responses that I haven’t been able to articulate recently. The last two questions do not yet have responses.
I hope that I can soon write another update about how much I love working with the children and how I remember all their names; or about how I got my own house and figured out where to buy food and how to cook for myself; or that I was able to leave my village for a weekend and get excited about coming back. Any of these things would be huge victories for me. For now, I’m trying to take things one day at a time and think about all the positives that have already come from this experience (see pictures below) and all the positives yet to come.