I’ve been in Canada for one month now. These are my thoughts. Perhaps disjointed and unpolished, they describe how I’m feeling amidst the adjustment:
Though I’m no longer bowing at people when I greet them, I still have to remind myself not to say, “sawatdee ka” in place of hello/goodbye as well as “korp khun ka” for thank you. And the fact that I have to tell myself not to do so makes me sad.
Where are all the people? Seriously, where are they? I know that Canada is sparsely populated when you take the size of our country and compare it to the amount of inhabitants, but even living in the city I have to wonder where everyone is. Is it just my street that’s sleepy, or what? I also have a large distaste for row upon row of cookie cutter houses, and recently commented to my mom, “the suburbs make me itchy.” Yes, I am a city girl indeed.
Nothing beats the BTS (sky train) in Bangkok. Really. Hop on, hop off, get where you need to be quickly and efficiently. I have a car and I do love driving, however it baffles my mind how far apart everything is. Also, there’s no parking spot for me at my apartment and seeing as how I already got a ticket, it’s going to be public transportation for me. Unfortunately the bus system isn’t as speedy as the sky train. On a positive note, I did the math and it’ll cost me the same for a bus pass as it did for a BTS pass.
I would love to walk down my street and get some fresh fruit from the stand or a hot yummy omelette served on rice. Or anything else for that matter. I didn’t have a kitchen in my apartment in Bangkok so I always ate street food. I do enjoy cooking, but I don’t enjoy always needing to have the right ingredients on hand, and that I can’t just step outside and find everything I need within a few blocks.
Yikes. With the exception of my bus pass, most things are more expensive here. Especially food. One thing I loved about Thailand is that I could eat out all the time. Not just street food, but in a restaurant with my friends. And unless I was eating Mexican food I could do it for about $3, drink included. My family and I went to Boston Pizza for my niece’s 2nd birthday last week and a large pizza cost nearly $30 – more than that with tax. Yikes! At $1 a plate, that means I could have dined on Pad Thai from my favourite stand or Pad See Ew from my favourite lunch time restaurant (Corner Soi 12!) 3o times for what we paid for one pizza.
What I miss most about Thailand is the people. I love interacting with the Thai people, and I love the fact that there is always someone to interact with. I love that as you pass someone in your neighbourhood (and beyond) you will always engage in a wai (bowing your head and bringing your hands together like you’re praying), accompanied by “sawatdee ka/kap!” and best of all, a BIG, HUGE, friendly smile! That’s the best.
There was the lady who made crepes outside of the 7-11 on the way home from work who would wave and call me beautiful, sometimes offering me some corn that she just bought from the vendor across from her; my dear, lovely security guard at my apartment, who was always so joyful and hospitable; Khun Noi at The Ruth Center, who knows everyone in her slum community by name and cares for them with a love that is so evident and inspiring; Som at ECPAT who would rifle through the drawer of medication to find a remedy for whatever ailment I had; and many, many more.
It goes without saying that I miss my friends and my community dearly. If I have ever felt a place of belonging in my 27 years, it was in Bangkok. Sunday morning breakfasts with Gigsy. Vietnamese dinner dates with Erin. Chats over coffee with Hannah and the girls. Saturday nights at NewSong. Thursday evenings with some of the most influential women I’ve ever known. Songkran with Jenny and Michelle (one of my favourite memories). Sundays at ECB and all of the lunches that followed. Outings with the awesome staff at ECPAT. The list goes on. And I’m seriously tearing up right now.
Of course, I must say some positive things about being in the western world. One thing that I really appreciated right after I got home was the peace and quiet. It was so nice to sit on the deck in my parents backyard, where all I could do was stare at the trees and listen to the birds. Bangkok is a busy city and if you want silence you need to be intentional about carving out those times. That said, I’m ready for some noise again.
Friends and family are undoubtedly a highlight. I had the opportunity to attend my dear friends Steph & Andrew’s wedding, reconnect with great pals on a camping trip, and spend some rich time with my life-long friend, Amy. I also got to catch up with my friends Melissa, Rachel, and Kaitlyn – girls that I can connect to and are inspired by because they are mission-minded – Asia in particular.
Oh yeah, I even, finally made some friends here in Ottawa. Now I can breathe. (I had two friends here prior to going to Bangkok. It wasn’t pretty).
The best part of all would be reconnecting with my dear niece Olivia, who just turned 2 and is more adorable than ever (I always think, “How can she get any cuter?” but she does!) Olivia became a big sister on August 6 when Isabelle came into the world. I lived out of province when Olivia was born so I never got to see her as an infant. Undoubtedly I look forward to having that opportunity with Isabelle.
It’s an Adjustment. A Hard One
I’m a proud Canadian and always will be, but this adjustment period has been hard. Right now I’m still mourning what was an amazing 6 months in a place that truly felt like home. Adjustments take time so I’m thankful when people are patient with me and don’t get offended if/when I’m a little withdrawn or not completely sold on North American culture as of yet. It took me very little time to adjust life in Thailand (probably because I felt like I had already been there with all the reporting/dreaming I did about it) and it feels like it’s taking centuries to adjust to life in Canada. The hardest part is knowing that I want to go back, but not knowing how/when/if that’s going to happen, and what it will look like if I do. Not yet at least. Time will tell. And time is not my enemy.
I think that’s it. Thanks for reading my blog post-turned-journal entry. And if you’re thinking of me…I could definitely use some prayer.