Halfway Point

Today is the halfway point of my Thailand adventure. I know it’s the halfway point because I have a countdown timer on my computer that tells me exactly how much time I have left in Thailand. The fact that I have such a timer might make it seem like I can’t wait to get out of here. That isn’t the case, but I will admit that the timer was installed at a time when I wasn’t thrilled about being here.

The first half of my Thailand experience has been good! I’ve learned a lot and I’ve tried a lot of new things. It has been really fun to experience life in a different culture. One of my goals in coming to Thailand was to learn firsthand what it is like to be an adult immigrant who doesn’t speak the language, isn’t familiar with the culture, and can’t read or write (since Thailand doesn’t usually use the roman alphabet, I’m illiterate here). I’m pretty helpless. I’ve been here for five months and I can really only do a few things without help from a Thai friend. I have a newfound respect for the many immigrants I’ve met in Phoenix who have become proficient in English and are self-sufficient.

I have a few regrets about my first five months here, however. First, I feel ashamed at how little Thai I know. The other day it started pouring down rain when I was walking home. Some mechanics invited me to come sit in their garage until it stopped raining. I exhausted all of my Thai within about 2 minutes with “Thank you” “How are you?” “What’s your name?” “My name’s Emily” What’s your dog’s name?” and “So much rain!”. I’ve been here for 5 months and I haven’t learned very much Thai. My second regret is that I didn’t keep myself busy enough on the weekends. I was always really happy on the weekdays because I was at school and around people. On the weekends, I often stayed in my apartment and got bored and lonely.

So I’m going to try to make more of an effort to spend time with people during the 2nd half of my trip. I’d like to say that I’ll also apply myself to learning Thai, but experience tells me that I probably won’t. Every now and then I have a renewal of energy and motivation for learning Thai. I get home from work and study from one of my books or from my Thai-language CD-ROM. Then I get frustrated because I don’t understand, or I decide that I’m never going to need to say the words I’m learning anyway.

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