Celete Kato, 129 TCCS
January 9, 2017
I made it! I’m in Thailand! I’m processing all of this change. I’m excited, but also exhausted and feeling a bit…off. I’m hot. I’m unsure. I’m anxious. But…I’m here. And I’m all in.
February 22, 2017
Exhaustion doesn’t quite begin to cover it. By the time I get home each evening I am beyond tired. The heat is more challenging than I expected, most evenings I’m laying in bed by 8:30pm. Everything is emotional here. Just existing takes all of my effort. I’ve made friends who are wonderful, but new. So on top of being exhausted by the daily tasks of life, and the daily emotions of living, I’m exhausted by the daily requirement to connect and form friendships. I can’t remember the last time I have been so wholly consumed by the effort of making it through each day.
April 2, 2017
I feel bashful about how much I love my site. My host family is kind and fun. My community is welcoming and full of smiles. My counterpart speaks great English and we seem to be building a great foundation for friendship. All around my site there are endless fields of rubber trees and fruit. It may take 15km to bike one way to civilization, but for now, something about that seems romantic. Maybe it’s just the honeymoon period. Maybe this will wear off. But for now I’m going to bask in it. I’m going to squeeze as much joy out of these days as I possibly can.
May 28, 2017
The power has been out for most of the day. I took the hour bike ride to 7/11 and the coffee shop where I had 15 minutes of internet before they lost power too. I biked home in the pouring rain. I dried off, sat on my bed, in the stillness of my powerless house and laughed. It’s my daily routine now to have no routine. I now expect that the plan in my head will not be my reality. Mostly I’m content with that. Mostly.
June 26, 2017
The moment I got through my front door today after school I started crying. I wish I could pinpoint the why…but I can’t. Maybe it’s the feeling of constantly second guessing my word choice, inflection, and gestures. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had a chance to bike, or run, or play volleyball. Maybe it’s because I miss the freedom of being able to go and do and see whenever I want. Maybe it’s pent up frustration from not understanding 90% of what the people around me are saying. Maybe I don’t need to pinpoint the why. Maybe it’s better to just let the tears out, sleep, and start over with a clean slate tomorrow.
August 15, 2017
I haven’t lived full time in America since Obama was president. Since One Direction was still together. Since Maya Angelou, David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, and Gene Wilder were alive. Since the iPhone had a headphone jack. Since Amazon was online only and not a storefront. Since Uber was only used for rides and not food. I haven’t lived and breathed and existed in America for over three years. The thought of returning to America full time is now more terrifying to me than starting over in a foreign country. I am now more fearful of “home” than I am of the world, and I wonder how much of that is our current president’s fault. Or maybe that’s the whole point of traveling – once you see so much of the world, you begin to realize that the world isn’t scary after all. It’s unique and interesting and every bit worth seeing. Sometimes the amount that I love being abroad scares me, how long can you be away before you can’t go home again? How long before you give up on trying to figure out what ‘home’ even means?
October 29, 2017
School break was amazing. Two weeks of rest and friends and exploring. Two PC friends came to visit my site and then I went to Siem Reap, Cambodia on an amazing trip. I can’t remember the last time I went on a trip that was so stress-free and rejuvenating. Surely a combination of good company and amazing scenery. I’m tired and in major need of introvert time, but I can’t imagine a better break and I feel ready to jump back into school for second semester.
November 9, 2017
Sometimes I wonder if I’ll regret it. If I’ll wish I’d picked a more conventional path. Maybe I should have taken that consulting job in DC right out of college. Maybe I should have stayed in the States for grad school. Maybe I shouldn’t have joined the Peace Corps. Maybe I’ll regret all of the birthdays, engagements, weddings, and babies I’m missing out on being present for. Maybe I’ll wish I had this time back. Maybe I’ll wish for a do-over. Maybe I’ll wish I had stayed in closer proximity to the people I love and care about. Then again…maybe I won’t.
December 19, 2017
When I read back through my old journal entries, my heart swells with gratitude. For the amazing experiences of year one in Thailand, and also for the hardships. For the new friendships, and for the refining of old ones. For the opportunity to be here and to live this one wild and crazy life. It’s such an honor. And that sounds so corny. So trite. So cliché. But right now it’s my truth, and I’m going to tell it. If I learned one thing in year one here, it’s that even if I’m making no sense and a room full of Thai students are looking at me like I’m a nutcase…being me is all I’m ever going to get to be, so I will try my best to enjoy it. Everyone is out here just trying to do the best they can. And that is enough. I am enough.
March 26, 2018
Exactly one year ago today I had been at site for 4 days. I was in the honeymoon period. Completely enraptured by all things new. I think back on that time with a smile and gratitude that I now feel more comfortable here. I frequently talk with my friends about how weird time is. How it flies, then it drags. How it seems to ebb and flow, without paying attention to how I would prefer it to behave. Time, like life, is so fleeting. I can’t help but get a little in my feelings these days. For 14 months I’ve been “counting up”. Marking time by it’s entry point. I arrived in Thailand and have been here one day…one month…six months…one year… From here on out, it’s easier to count down. To mark my time in Thailand by it’s inevitable termination. I have one year left at site…six months left…one month left. The psychological shift in the marking of time feels significant somehow. As if having “x” amount of time left means I have “x” amount of time to do something with it.
Recently I was talking with a dear friend who asked what I love most about living abroad. I said I love that it’s never boring. Most of the time, I love that each day could hold something unexpected, because I never have to worry about becoming bored or complacent. I’d like to amend that response now. I’d like to tell her that what I love most about living abroad is that it forces growth and change. So yes, I love the unpredictability of each day, but even more I love that each challenge (and there have been many) that I’ve faced so far in this journey is one I can look back on with gratitude because it taught me something about myself or the world around me. It forced me to acknowledge and accept both the good and the bad in myself and the world.
So here’s to the finish line, however near it or far it may be from this moment right now. Here’s to using the time we’re given the best we can.