How Life Has Changed
It is almost 6 months to the day that I became an expat.
It has gone so fast, yet it is also difficult to imagine a time not living in Bangkok. Life no longer revolves around a 9-5, 5-day working week (or more realistically 7-7 and often working on weekends), blinking and missing “summer” or waking up in the middle of the night full of anxiety about work. Instead I now feel I am embracing life – discovering all that Bangkok has to offer from the amazing temples (in my humble opinion Wat Arun is the best) to the shopping malls to just wandering down an unknown soi to see what’s there.
Wat Arun temple Source: Prachanart
Don’t get me wrong, life over here is not always easy. My friends back in the UK see me as being on a permanent holiday and that can make it hard to talk about feelings of loneliness or not belonging. The standard response is but you live in a sunny place and have your own swimming pool – what is there to complain about. And I understand that. 6 months ago it would have been my reply too. I think only someone who is or has been an expat can understand how hard it is to literally start your life afresh at thirty two by moving to a place with no job and no friends and just how difficult it is to live somewhere and not understand the language. I also now find myself living in the year 2555 (the Buddhist calendar is followed here – year 2012 in Europe is year 2555 in Thailand).
However I have no regrets.
The quality of our lives has improved tenfold. I am almost embarrassed to admit how much we were ruled by television in the UK. We currently have very little material items as we are still waiting for our shipping but the only things I really want are our pictures and photographs. Everything else seems irrelevant. I cannot imagine what we have in the forty eight boxes on their way to us.
Life as I left it in the UK was getting hard. Bills were rising but my salary was both cut and then frozen. People were miserable. It was also boring. To an extent it felt like Groundhog Day – get up, go to work, come home, eat and watch TV, go to bed. Repeat next day. When I now email friends full of excitement of what I have seen and done and ask what they have been up to the response seems standard: “same old, same old, nothing has changed since you left”.
Equally, there is the risk of this happening in Bangkok – despite what my friends think I am not on a permanent holiday. We still have the mundane tasks of cleaning, washing and paying bills. However I refuse to return to Groundhog Day. There is just too much to see and do than just sit in my apartment all day playing on Facebook. That is of course also the case in the UK; I just became too stuck in a rut to see it.
I acknowledge how lucky I am to have been given this opportunity, but having now made some friends here; I see just how easy it is to become an expat. So many people from the UK successfully apply for postings based in Bangkok or work hard for 6 months in their home country and then take a break here, in the knowledge their money will stretch further in Asia than in Europe. I now actively encourage family, friends and acquaintances to take the same chance that I am glad we did!
About the author
Anna Power is an expat freelance writer and blogger following a move to Bangkok in June 2012. In her previous life she worked as a lawyer but when her partner’s career took her to Bangkok she decided to make the most of living in the Big Mango.