I’ve been here for 2 years, so I’ve seen a lot of friends come and go. One of the perks of knowing a transient population is you get to rummage through their castoffs and leftovers. Many of my clothes are hand me downs (thank you Aofie, Melanie, Sara, Yuko, Mia, and Julia!). My library collection, kitchen and miscellany household goods have also manifested in this way.
When I returned in 2010, it was my friend Julia who let me buy her motorbike for the sweet price of 10,000 baht. Then I was later able to sell it to my friend JP who needed a bike, as I was inheriting my aunt’s. When my friend Lauren needed to sell hers, I was able to connect her with Kathy, who had just returned from her loathed China teaching experience.
If ever there was a model of a recycle and reuse society, it’s the expat community. It’s just something we do and I don’t think we ever stop to really think about it. I’m not saying there isn’t a “hand me down – lemon lot” culture in the United States, in fact there is definitely a bargain hunter tribe over there. But here, it’s a matter of keeping food cold in your apartment, getting from point Z to Y and attempting to function as a member of Thai society.
This “helping hands” mentality was something that really warmed my heart when I first tried out Thailand in 2009. And I think that is why I compare Thailand/expat living to the Wild Wild West. But I’ve discovered a new lemon lime twist: my friend Julia’s lesson plans.
Julia was my biggest gift when I lived here in 2009-2010. Before I broke into the teaching English bubble, I was working this god-awful internet job that allowed me a lot of freedom but no social life and very little money. (Hmmm, not much has changed.) I met her at JJ Market and I love telling this story because I just stared at her while she shopped innocently for plants.
I wasn’t stalking her per se, but I was definitely watching her. And it’s a good thing I decided to walk up and ask, “Do you speak English?” (I’m such a dork!!!) because we ended up meeting later that week for coffee. It turned out I helped her to be more social too. We had a lot of fun, and not in a drinking binge kind of way either, which is one of the reasons why we got along.
Because I couldn’t find work as an English teacher in CM, I left for Ecuador (why not!), but I returned 6 months later. When I did, my Thailand, the Thailand that I wanted when I first arrived, finally opened up. Julia helped me get a job, gave me basically a lot of her apt, sold me necessary things for good prices and held my heart up, when I found out my boyfriend had been sleeping with another woman.
Julia was my angel. And one of those really good planners and natural teachers, which I am not, so getting those spiral notebooks filled with her ideas were a godsend. I couldn’t use her plans as much as I wanted because we taught different classes. This term though, I finally got to teach the same level, and it’s AWE-some to see her notes, especially with over a year of English teaching experience.
It’s like seeing something with new eyes because you haven’t looked at it for a long time. If I thought my teaching was getting stale or redundant, looking at her LPs infused me with fresh ideas, old ideas that I had forgotten and well, gave me the opportunity to see how someone else approaches teaching.
Kup khun ka Julia. Kit tung mak mak, joop joop, lc