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Teaching Abroad in Thailand

Finding Inner Peace While Teaching in Thailand
While teaching abroad is a major avenue to personal growth through an expansion of one’s heart and mind, it is adjoined with its challenges. A friend gave me wise advice today. I was explaining to him how my instinct during times of loss is to reach out to those affected and express my sympathy. For me it feels natural to be there for someone else. But when it comes to a loss that involves mental health issues, the need to reach out is even stronger because I feel more connected having gone through quite a few inner battles myself. I can’t remember how he put it, but he said something along the lines of, “sometimes the best way to cope with a loss that involves mental health is to figure out better ways to show up for yourself.” And it’s true; how can we expect the world to be a happier and easier place to live in if we can’t find peace within ourselves? How can we love someone else, if we can’t even look at ourselves in the mirror when we are alone? How can we inspire others, if we have a lack of motivation or are void of any passions?

Sightseeing

The moments we spend checking in with ourselves are the moments that make us who we are. The likes on our social media accounts and the grades we get in school do NOT define us. I’ve come a long way since high school when I used to fall asleep at an unreasonable time surrounded by books and opened binders. Or the time at university when I called my dad in the middle of the night crying because I was convinced that I was going to fail a class. It took me a long time to realize what works best for me, but gradually, I developed ways to practice self-care, and it has helped immensely with my fast-paced life back in New York. 

But if I’m going to be honest, it’s much more difficult to keep up with my self-care routine when I am abroad. I have a couple of reasons for this and hopefully some of you will find them relatable.

While abroad….

1. You get severe FOMO (fear of missing out) and want to be included in every activity.

This isn’t the same FOMO you get at home folks. This time, you are abroad; the world is your oyster. Not only do you have free time on the weekends to take trips, but during the week the market calls your name, willing you to explore its depths. You feel scared to close your eyes because you might miss an opportunity to see a cool temple or get dinner with the new friends you’ve made. 

2. This is not a drill. You really are teaching abroad with kids depending on you in classroom.

People are depending on you to teach English to kids, and to make it super fun. With that being said, if you’re a perfectionist like me it’s easy to find ways to be hard on yourself, especially if you feel like the kids aren’t grasping a certain concept. As a result, you might find yourself working extra hard during break, never giving your body any time to recuperate.

3. You have no idea what balance means anymore.

At home, you are comfortable with your surroundings, which makes it easier to make time for yourself. However, when you travel abroad to teach, you are constantly adjusting to an unfamiliar setting while also adapting to your new school. Everything is new, and therefore self-care gets put on the back burner.

Classroom Games

Rescue Paws

On the bright side, here are some things that have been helping me find my inner peace while teaching abroad, (Please note: I’m still learning, and adding more to the list). 

Spending time alone It’s okay, I promise. Read, write, watch Netflix, lay on your bed and stare at the ceiling, do some yoga poses, or just take a nap. Don’t beat yourself up for missing out on something because there is always something exciting going on. 

Treat yourself Get a massage or a manicure. Find that little cute puppy at the hair salon across from you, cuddle with it and never let it go.  

Take actual breaks during your breaks at school  It’s okay to take a breath in between classes. Find the nearest fan if you can and just take a moment to sit and clear your mind.

Be kind to yourself Make sure you are getting enough sleep and are eating consistently throughout the day. Don’t be so hard on yourself! Stop from time to time and think of how lucky you are to be in such an amazing place, doing something that makes you happy. 

Most importantly, check in with yourself. Ask yourself how you’re doing (maybe not out loud). 

Show up for yourself. Always.

Sophie Torres

For more from Sophie, head over to her blog here

To find out more about XploreAsia’s Teach in Thailand program, please visit https://www.xploreasia.org/teach-in-thailand/

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