Tag Archives: bugs

cultural. adaptation.

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  1. The handling of bugs and other woodland creatures: 

While it is not appropriate to claim that I remain ‘cool’ or ‘calm’ in the presence of the creepy crawlies… I have come a loooong way.

For example: It’s rainy season.  This mean it’s the season of my all time favorite insect–the flying termite.  I hate these stupid and arguably harmless bug with every inch of my being and usually have to wrap my head in some sort of protective garb in order to keep them from burrowing into my hair and never coming back out.  Yes.  BUT… the other night, we had two friends over for dinner and when the assigned time came for these bugs to begin swarming around my head and… I DID NOT retreat into the house, nor did I wrap my hair in anything.  Perhaps this was a one time scenario, but it seemed momentous at the time.

Another example of my adaptation is in relation to those dang huntsman spiders (go here if you need to be reminded of what I used to be like…).  Just the other day I was sitting on the floor in my bedroom and I saw one peeping out from under my bed.  Instead of springing up in panic, I sat there and calmly told him that we could co-exist as long as he kept his distance.  I trust he has kept up his side of the promise… and what I don’t know, I want to keep that way.

There are other examples of this, but if I want you to read this entire post, I suppose I should get moving on.

2. My perception of ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ weather:

We are coming off one of the hottest hot seasons Thailand has known in many years… like at 60 years.  (I want to say 100 years, but then someone might fact check me and I may be exaggerating…) It’s been hot.  We had week after week into months of weather hitting 110, 112, 114 fahrenheit with overnight lows of 85, 88, 90. Overnight. Lows.

I do not sleep in air conditioning.  This particular year I had three short stays in peoples’ homes where I was blessed with a climate controlled bedroom.. but those nights only made nights back in my bedroom nearly impossible.  At home, I would wake up in the middle of the night literally dripping in sweat.  It was hot.

Now that the rains have begun our highs are only 97…95 and this Tuesday it gets down to a HIGH of only 91.  With overnights lows as low as 75.  And guess what.  I get cold at night.  Instead of waking up in sweat… I wake up to add a blanket and/or turn off my fan.

This is adaptation.

3. Personal hygiene:

Over the course of my short life I have somehow gained the reputation of being… how should I say?.. dirty?  In Thailand they have a phrase ‘สกมก’ (sokmok) which roughly translates as ‘dirty homeless person’.  This is a word that has been used to describe me.  John Huffman likes to tell hyperbolized stories of my lack of feminitiy and seemingly displaced desire to shower.  It was not uncommon for me to go 2, 3…4 days without showering.  Looking back, this is slightly embarrassing… but, what can I say?

In Thailand, this is not acceptable.  Thai people shower at least twice a day, every day. Regardless of activity and sweat levels.  Twice a day.  I was a walking offense.  However, those days are behind me and I can proudly say that I shower–at least–once a day, but often two–even three times a day.

I have turned a page in my life.  So long สกมก. Hello being clean.

4. The use of the Thai language:

Thai has become such a normal part of my life that I often speak Thai without taking into account who I am talking to.  For example, I had a meeting with one of my professors at University and as she is Thai, I naturally just started talking to her in Thai.  However, this was not appropriate, as I am in an international program studying about teaching English. My professor does not talk to her Thai students in Thai… let alone her American student.

Another example happened today in my classroom.  If one of my students needs further explanation of something I have gone over repeatedly in English, I will revert to Thai to ensure that comprehension is there. I have two students from English speaking homes in my classroom and today one of them was asking for further explanation.  I knelt down beside him and started explaining the activity to him in Thai.  He does not speak Thai.

This also comes out when I am with other English speakers and drop Thai words into the conversation because I cannot think of a word to express the appropriate message in English. How did I ever thoroughly communicate before?

5. I find Asian men attractive: 

Before moving to Thailand I had no interest, whatsoever, in Asian men.  So often I would get asked, ‘do you think you will marry a Thai person‘ and I would almost get offended by the question.  No.  I had this misconception that all Thais (and therefore, all Asians) are super short, super skinny and have weird voices. I also thought that all Asian people look the same.

Well, guess what.  Asians (and Thais) come in all shapes and sizes with all sorts of personalities and all have very diverse facial features. Asian women have long been praised for their beauty, but I am here to say that Asian men can be quite attractive as well.

Of course I am not attracted to every Thai man that walks past me… but that wasn’t the case in America either.

For me, the surest sign that I have adapted to Thailand is that I have crushes on at least four Thai guys.

 


So there you have it.  After a little over three and a half years, I can say with some amount of confidence, I have adapted to Thailand.

 

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an Ode to Airports

Airports  have long held a soft spot in my heart.

eppley parking lot

The pickup/drop off area in front of Eppley.

The Eppley Airfield in Omaha has been to me a gateway into worlds unexplored, a doorway to adventure–or, on the receiving end,  a welcomed solace after a whirlwind experience, a simple and familiar friend after life unfamiliar.

the simplicity of Eppley Airfield

the simplicity of Eppley Airfield

During the 11 months I spent traveling around the world with 35 other vagabonds, airports offered us (at least the hope of) clean bathrooms, air conditioning, free wifi and a semi sanitary place to lay our heads to rest.

sleeping in the airport

Chiang Mai International Airport has now become the airport in my life.

chiang mai airport

It’s at this airport that I have been able to stand and wait to welcome friends from America, Uganda and Cambodia; it is here that I have embraced people that I haven’t seen in a long time and it is here that I have had to say many goodbyes.

Last month, it was there that I was given the pleasure of welcoming these two faces into my world:

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The month of October was spent sharing my world with my mom and my grandma.  I was able to spend the month introducing these two ladies to the people that have stolen my heart, taking them to the places that I have fallen in love with and ordering them the food that I don’t know how I will ever be able to live without.

Eating bugs was all on her own accord...

Eating bugs was all on her own accord…

For one month my mom and grandma were given the opportunity to experience the temperatures, tastes and traffic of the place that I call home. Together we celebrated both the beginning of my 27th year of life and the completion of my first year living in Thailand and together we travelled to the south of Thailand for a week of rest and relaxation before the three of us head back to our normal routines.

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Mom at one of our dinner spots. I like everything about this picture.

Of course, three generations of strong willed, independent women spending three weeks together in a culture unfamiliar leads to some tense moments, and tense moments there were.  Moments of misunderstanding, moments of cross cultural frustration, moments of unmet desires and expectation.  Moments of life being lived in community.

The story ends with another trip to the airport and another goodbye.

For the first time, instead of me saying goodbye to them, they said goodbye to me.  For the first time, I stood back and watched them go through security and onto immigration.  For the first time they would head back to that familiar friend Eppley and I would stay put.

Goodbyes are a strange thing.

The ending of a season and the beginning of something entirely new.

After saying goodbye to the two woman who have loved, raised and supported me these past 27 years, I was able to say ‘hi’ to craziness that has become my normal routine.  I got to say ‘hello’ to Jed who is now part of our funny family, ‘hello’ to two new students in my first grade class, and ‘hello’ to another year of life.

So, thank you ladies for coming.  Thank you for embracing the people and the food.  Thank you for loving the students and for loving me so well, and thank you for letting me stay.

I love you.

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