The sun started to disappear on the other side of the world casting soft shades of yellow and orange across the edge of existence. The earth was a deep blue that met the dark sky with scattered stars that faded into the light blue of the day on the other side. I pressed my nose to the window staring out at the world. How vast it is, and how small I am in it. I watched the sun rise and fall six times in a span of one day, all the while flying against time in the sky. The journey home. 25 hours of flight time. 10 hours of layover time. And many hours to reflect on the past four months of my life. I let the memories flash at the same time as the piano chords of my music. Letting the experience seep deeper into my heart. Although the reality of leaving did not settle in until I was sitting in an airport by myself for six hours in waiting for my last flight home. I spent the journey of the day with Adele, Kameron, and Jonas. We flew from Chiang Mai, Thailand to Seoul, Korea, and then to Washington D.C. We met Michael at the airport, enjoyed our first cup of Starbucks and headed our separate ways. They were continuing onto Pennsylvania in their journey. I said my last goodbye to the physical presence of someone knowing my experience. I did not let it sink in yet. I walked around the airport for awhile, but then settled to work on a video of my time in Thailand. I was wearing my new asian cat hoodie and was wondering why strangers kept smiling at me as they walked by. I realized a hoodie with cat ears is strange here, and I suddenly felt the difference in me in returning.
Before coming to Thailand I did not care too much for the color pink, I was more of a dog person, and I honestly was not always a happy individual. In returning home I have discovered, I like the color pink, I am more familiar with cats now, and I carry with me the joy of hundreds of people that I have encountered during my time in Thailand. After getting another cup of coffee to stay awake and a veggie wrap (which my stomach had not eaten anything that was in it in the last four months), I settled in at my gate. As the announcement came on that the plane was delayed, I burrowed my head into my backpacks to avoid strangers noticing my tears. This was the last leg home. I actually was headed home. Thailand had been my dream for so long, that I was not sure what will come next. The memories of all the people I have met, the joy I experienced, the love and grace that God granted me gave my heart peace. But the peace was not without the miss. I miss Thailand. I will always miss Thailand and dream of when I will be able to return. I worried Thailand would not be what I thought it would be, but it was so much grander than my imagination could come up with. It was more than a dream come true.
On our last night together we set off the last of the sky lanterns. I wrote on mine “More than a dream” and “It has only begun” as a reminder to myself. My time in Thailand has been more than a dream, because it was real life. I lived it, and I encountered a new joy or challenge every day. Thailand is a stepping stone into my future aspirations. I have learned that I can handle living abroad. Even though my body is a pain, literally, but I can manage it. As Dr. Chullee reminded me, Thailand will always be another home to me. Another place where my heart is scattered across culture and the people who have captured my heart. Traveling so much has also given me the travel bug. I crave more. And now my dreams are bigger.
My last day in Thailand was a magical day of traveling around the day market with Leah and ending the day with a Christmas party. I think God puts people in your life exactly when you need them. I did not expect to get to know someone so well in four months, but I am incredibly thankful for the support of Leah and her beautiful insight into people and the world. And yes I did cry while reading her note to me on the plane, because we are now in separate worlds, but never too far apart. And thank you to Lyndsay, Miranda, Jonas, and Kameron for being stellar adventuremates. I will never forget the times of laughing so hard we cried, learning together, and adventuring together. We had the lovely company of Ajarn Marting and his family as well as Pannee, Thippawan, and Psy at our Christmas party. Throughout the term we all were well taken care of by the staff and even though we are barred by language at times, their love and care for us was always apparent.
I also am incredibly thankful for the directors of Go ED. Michael and Adele, you have created a program that is challenging, but gives incredible opportunity. The chance to live with and get to know hilltribes is something that has made the textbook issues of Thailand a more personal issue. Thank you for your program and helping my dream become more than I ever thought possible. Thank you for literally being my hands and feet when I could not be. For helping me conquer mountains, homework assignments, art projects, and sometimes even myself. Your investment in students is incredible. I am only one student, but your program has shaped my story into one of travel and capability of doing international work. Thank you.
To everyone who has read all 45 posts of my blog, and even intermittently read some in between, thank you. Thank you for walking this journey with me and reading along as I have grown and learned. Feel free to share with me your thoughts and please ask questions about my time in Thailand. It keeps the memories alive the more people ask about my experience and it helps me integrate what I have learned and who I am in coming home.
My journey has just begun. I am not sure where it will take me or where God will lead me. I am still figuring out who I am as I return to familiar places. Between sleep, figuring out spring term, wrapping gifts, and chatting my parents ears off, I am slowly coming to terms with being home, but all the while hanging onto all that I have lived in the past four months. It has felt like a lifetime, and I am excited for what the future will bring.
I am not sure what will become of my blog. I love writing, and this has been an incredible output for me during my journey. Perhaps I will write about culture shock as I encounter things that seem so different to me now. Or maybe I will take a break until my next travels in May. For now, all I can say is thank you to everyone and carry the joy with me that I have lived, really lived, these past four months.
Merry Christmas everyone! May the holiday season be one of love and joy. ❤