Imagine that you have just spent the last six weeks volunteering in Thailand. And it was the best experience of your life so far but now you’ve gone home. I have to tell you … being home sucks. Like it really really sucks.
You see your family, your friends and your cat and that is all good and you feel happy but then suddenly you are in bed or driving somewhere and you are on your own and it hits you … you are not in Thailand anymore.
You will not get up tomorrow morning, woken by a chorus of howling dogs, and have rice for breakfast before heading off to childcare to teach the letter ‘U’. You won’t have rice for lunch and 30 cent ice creams from the blue cart guy because his are better than the red cart man, and he is nicer too.
You won’t teach English to the kids at school in the afternoon or visit the sick children at the hospital. You won’t get beaten at the string game and no one will call you a ‘farang’ (Thai for foreigner) or talk about you in Thai while you are standing right there.
There will be no more bracingly cold showers or rice for dinner. No one will let you have a machete to hack things with. Not that that happened all that often because even in Thailand no one trusted you with sharp implements.
You will not go into town every night and drink Chang and eat Pad Thai for one dollar and ride back home hanging off the back of a songthaew, maybe just a little bit tipsy. You will not laugh as much as you’re used to.
And you will not feel like you are making a difference anymore and that’s the hardest part. Thailand was great, and exciting, and fun, and you met awesome people, made wonderful friends and had some amazing experiences but best of all you were helping people. People who really needed it and were so grateful for it.
The hardest thing about being home is that you are not doing that anymore. Because now you are getting back into regular, normal life and you see your friends, you go out to dinner, wear Thailand inappropriate clothing, go to parties, get drunk, go to university, study, go to work and hate it but they are still over there.
You might have been there for six weeks and you might have made a difference but you didn’t fix anything. They still need more and you’re not doing it anymore and that’s shattering. Because you want to be. So you put it out of your mind and you go to uni/work/school/parties/movies and it fades away. But maybe, I mean you only have one more year of study, you can go back. And that makes it bearable because a year isn’t really that long.
PS. If you aren’t willing to be culturally sensitive in a foreign country, stay at home. The world doesn’t need more people like you fucking it up.