Happy anniversary to me and my backpack!
One year ago today, I left the West Palm Beach airport headed to Durban, South Africa. I’d graduated from UNC in May, worked at Seacamp from then until October and for about a week at the end of October, I wondered whether to accept a job at Seacamp or to head into the corporate world.
…And naturally, I boarded a plane to Africa.
My plan, or what I had of one, was to see Morgan and stay the three months in South Africa that my visitor’s visa would allow. Twelve months later, here I am with Morgan in our apartment in Phuket, Thailand getting takeout for dinner and thinking about how it is that I got here.
The following are some initial thoughts:
-Morgan was working in Durban and we hadn’t seen each other for nearly 10 months. A visit was slightly overdue.
-As a Cuban/Japanese/Irish/second-generation American, maybe I was meant to feel fairly comfortable in any part of the world.
-I’d never been to Asia.
-I quit my nanny job in South Africa. ‘Communists’/’boorish Americans’ do things like that.
-South Africa has somewhere between a 25%-33% unemployment rate meaning unless I had a PhD or 5+ years work experience in a particular field, as a foreigner, I wasn’t about to be hired (hence the nanny job).
-Morgan was at a break-point in his eTV career and wanted to travel.
-We were both looking for adventure…and needed to find a country where we could both get jobs.
-I wanted to still be near the beach.
So after I’d spent five months in South Africa, we left for Thailand. Seven months later, I’m in my second semester as a kindergarten teacher in Phuket. I’m practicing bikram yoga daily (or trying to) and exploring the country by motorbike, bus or rented car as often as possible. I know a few Thai phrases (mostly that pertain to defecating in the toilet due to the nature of my work) and I can confidently say that I live in a country with some of the best food in the world.
That’s not to say I don’t miss my family and friends back home. I often wish I could see my little brother pitch at his JV baseball games or visit my sister at her new apartment in Gainesville. Or that I was in Key West for Fantasy Fest.
But from my past 365 consecutive days of living outside the US (and maybe another 365 non-consecutive days from previous travels), I’m slowly coming to learn that you can make a life for yourself just about anywhere. Just pack up, pick up and go! That being said, appreciate who you are and where you come from. Most importantly, make the journey worth it.
Here’s to another five months in Thailand! After that is yet to be determined, but surely another grand adventure.
(See ‘My Old Blog’ under Other Places to Find Kassie to read about my earlier days of globetrotting.)