It’s been nearly seven months that I’ve been living in Chiang Mai and as my yearning to leave grows stronger, I find it necessary to sit back and reflect on my time here. From walking the streets with my resume back in March to now being looked at as a “veteran” expat within the community, my experience in this city has constantly evolved. While some days were filled with hate for my teaching contract and apartment lease ball and chain, most others were filled with love and a genuine interest for this quirky little town.
Now, ready to leave more than ever, I want to take off my wanderlusty blinders and spend a minute remembering everything I have accomplished, learned and experienced in the half year I have been living in Chiang Mai. It’s time that I remind myself that staying put can sometimes have its benefits.
• I learned to drive a motorbike
Something I was convinced I would never do, I was forced to learn this new skill to commute to work. Now, I have more options for transport when traveling and am one step closer to driving a real motorcycle one day.
• I learned to socialize better
Unlike the last life I lived abroad, my job here didn’t come with a built in social life. I actively attended meet-ups and events to meet new friends.
• I started a travel blog
A failed venture during college, I was re-inspired by the community around me to start up a travel inspired blog.
• I became a freelance writer
I realized that it’s something I wanted to do, could do, and will continue to do in the future.
• I became a freelance teacher
I’ve been aiming to turn teaching into a freelance, work from home kind of gig and I acquired my first online student.
• I started writing an E-book
I finally turned an idea scribbled in a notebook to an actual product. However, it still has a long way to go.
• I became a better English teacher
I fell into a job at a bilingual school teaching English as a subject instead of ESL. A lot of the topics forced me to re-learn some concepts before teaching them and I now know much more about the English language than ever before.
• I surrounded myself with an inspiring community
The entrepreneurs, artists, writers, teachers and designers in Chiang Mai are a huge inspiration. I’ve surrounded myself with people doing what I want to do and it has done wonders for my social life and my career.
• I met some quality friends
My entire life I have had issues finding people who I really connect with and living in Chiang Mai, I have found some truly amazing friends who I feel confident will be in my life far down the road from now.
• I saw some of my idols in person
Freelee The Banana Girl and Durianrider to be exact. I have been following these vegan Youtubers for years and finally saw them in person when attending their events at the Thai Fruit Fest in Chiang Mai.
• I fed Elephants
I’ve been waiting since my high school days for this glorious event and it is a day that I will always remember.
• I learned about what I don’t want in a career
Figuring out what I don’t want out of life is just as crucial as figuring out what I do. I realized that children, office work and a noisy, hectic environment is not for me.
• I learned a whole wealth of information about becoming an entrepreneur
I’ve attended workshops and talks and have gathered so much free information on this topic that I am eventually going to give it a shot in the not too distant future.
• I tried new things
Thai massage, Muay Thai, Paintball- these are just some of the interesting activities that I may never have tried otherwise.
• I gained an appreciation for quality coffee
I was never a coffee drinker until I started frequenting the abundance of cute cafes in Chiang Mai. I now have a fine appreciation for a good brew.
On a deeper level, I probably can’t yet understand all the ways in which my time here has molded me and changed my life path. All I know is that I feel closer to my heart’s intent for my life and I found a place that I truly feel a connection with. A genuine traveler at the core, it has been difficult for me to plant roots in a country surrounded by so many interesting and tempting others but it has shown me the unimagined benefits that slow travel can bring to the experience. Under a month left and I am looking forward to the next part of my journey but will keep a little piece of Chiang Mai alive in my heart and future ventures.