Before I moved to Thailand to teach English, I liked to think I was a go-with-the-flow type of person, but in reality, I was too anxious to not have a plan. I always mapped out how I was going to reach my goals and how I was going to live my life. Whether that was a travel goal, a career goal, a financial goal, etc., I knew what was going on at all times and what the next step was. I didn’t have the exciting kind of anxious that some thrill-seekers may experience. I had the nervous ‘something could go wrong’ or ‘I wouldn’t be prepared’ type of anxiety and it started to become debilitating. When I decided I was going to Teach in Thailand, I knew I either needed to face this head on, or I wouldn’t survive.
This simple phrase has many meanings, sometimes it can be used as “never mind” or “don’t mention it” or “it’s all good” or “don’t worry.” And most of the time, it’s all of those at once. The Thai culture is very stress-free and Thai’s truly live by the phrase. I step back and see that there were many things I had control over back home and there are even more I have ZERO control over in Thailand - Mai bpen rai.
My schedule is in English while teaching abroad. But my Friday class is written in Thai so I didn’t know about it the first week. I didn’t have a lesson planned so we did the hokey-pokey, learned the electric slide, and had a quick game of Teacher Says (think Simon Says).
Did they learn something new in English? Maybe. Did they learn their English teacher can’t dance? YES! Did everything turn out okay? Yes! - Mai bpen rai.
I’ll find out about a school meeting five minutes before it starts and I know I’ll be late because I’m finishing up a lesson - Mai bpen rai. The school understands.
I need to go to the train station but my motorcycle taxi takes me to the van station - Mai bpen rai. I play charades for two minutes and finally get to the right place.
My train is 45 minutes late and I have a connecting train in Bangkok - Mai bpen rai. I’ll get there when I get there!
I don’t know what to order for dinner because the entire menu is in Thai and no one speaks English - Mai bpen rai. Whatever I have will be delicious!
I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone more than I expected to. The more comfortable I become accepting every day is going to be a new adventure, the more I remember that my anxiety is only debilitating if I let it be.
Kayt Adamson is from the San Francisco Bay Area where she traded her life in a cubicle to teach first graders English in Thailand. During her free time she enjoys searching for the best Som Tam (papaya salad) in town and taking solo trips throughout the country.[/person]