There are seven days in a week, and “someday” is not one of them.

― Benny Lewis

Chata Thamachart Cafe, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand

You are finally ready to take the next steps! I know how exciting this is and how difficult it can be. But don’t worry, there are many other people that feel the way that you do! I felt lost and confused before I decided to take a leap and now I can’t stop. I have made a list of 5 questions to ask yourself before taking that jump.

It may be hard to adjust to this new life, but it will be 110% worth it. You will create new memories and find people who match your vibe. You will overcome your fears and learn new things about yourself. Don’t put it off any longer. You deserve this.

1. Are you okay with leaving your comfort zone?

I worked at a Mexican restaurant for almost six years before I built up the courage to leave. I was stuck and lost. The money was good, but I just was not happy with myself. 

When I applied to teach in Spain back in 2018, I was secretly happy that I did not reply in time. Why? I was terrified. Even though I wasn’t happy with my life, I didn’t know if I was ready for a change. 

I had these regulars at Margaritas that were excited for me to begin this journey. They kept telling me they wished that they had traveled more when they were younger because now they have kids. Life got in the way. I kept them up to date with my travel plans and they made me realize that I can do this. They encouraged me to keep trying and to apply to other jobs abroad. They were the ones that inspired me to leave my comfort zone. So, if you are looking for that sign to leave your comfort zone, now is the time. If your gut is telling you then do it!

Almost a year after missing my chance to go to Spain, I was on a plane to Southeast Asia.

When I booked my Thailand trip, I didn’t even think about it. And it was one of the best decisions that I have made.

Indria, me, Namkang

2. Do you like to travel and immerse yourself in unfamiliar cultures?

If your answer is just yes to travel, then I’m not sure living in another country for a few months is for you. When I went to both Thailand and South Korea, I did not do my research. Thailand turned out to be extraordinary. South Korea turned out to be a life lesson. Do yourself a favor and don’t follow my steps- research before going to another country.

Each country has different rules/laws/regulations that you may not be used to.

For example, in South Korea, if you buy a phone there, you won’t be able to turn off the shutter sound that your phone makes when you take a picture. They also have CCTVs everywhere. In Thailand, you cannot speak negatively about the King or you can face prison time. They also play the national anthem at the beginning of every movie if you go to the movie theaters. These are just a few examples.

I think the most difficult thing is not knowing the language. Translation apps can be great but sometimes they just don’t work. If you are not prepared to face miscommunication because you can’t speak the language, you may want to look into countries where you know a little bit of the language. Or better yet, prepare yourself and learn the language before your journey.

3. Are you prepared to (possibly) face culture shock?

Culture shock has four phases:
1) euphoria
2) discomfort/frustration
3) adjudgement
4) acceptance

Culture shock can be a rollercoaster. Literally. It can be a mix of depression, anxiety, and/or confusion. It comes from being outside your norm. It is a possibility, especially if you are going to a developing country or you are traveling by yourself.

When I first went to Thailand, I didn’t thoroughly experience culture shock because I was surrounded by other Americans. I did miss home though, which is another aspect of culture shock. But of course, you are going to miss home.

Even when I moved to Chaiyaphum, it wasn’t too bad. However, communicating was always tough because I barely knew the language; bugs and other creatures lived alongside me in my apartment. Seeing dogs roaming around the streets was heartbreaking. I learned to bring packs of tissues with me everywhere cause most bathrooms didn’t have any.

Along with culture shock, you may feel like you do not fit in. Especially if you travel by yourself.

But, if you do end up going by yourself, there are plenty of resources that will help you meet people in your area that speak English. There are multiple Facebook groups, a few websites, such as Internations, Travel Massive, and Nomadic Network. Bumble also worked in South Korea. I used the Bumble BFF and talked to a few cool girls before I got locked out of my account. LOL.

Just as culture shock can happen when you go to another country, reverse culture shock is also a thing. When I came back from Thailand, I was a new person. I forgot that I could drink out of the faucet and cross the street without getting hit; it was weird to me that I understood people’s conversations that were around me; I could flush toilet paper again! I ended up getting Thai food at a nearby restaurant and said hello and thank you in Thai LOL.

I ended up cleaning out my room and throwing away a bunch of clothes and miscellaneous things that I no longer needed or used. It felt great. I feel like living in Thailand made me become a minimalist. Minimalism is a great way to live.

There’s also the emotional and mental factors of both culture shock and reverse culture shock.

When you come back home, no one understands your new self. Mostly because they can’t relate. Sometimes, people don’t agree with the way you are choosing to live your life and can’t comprehend the fact that you want to travel and don’t want to live the corporate life in the US.

It’s important to have an active social calendar when you get home. I also feel it’s important to stay in contact with the people that you met while you were abroad; like-minded people make the best friends.

4. What do you want to gain from this experience?

First off, you will be exposed to a whole new culture, if it is your first time going to that country, of course.
Being immersed in another culture is an experience that will be exciting.

Living in Thailand for 10 months was life-changing. I was able to learn some of the language, create new friendships, and discover my love for Thai food and their culture.

My experience in Thailand was far better and drastically different from my experience in South Korea. However, they both molded me into a better person and changed my way of thinking.

Every experience is an experience; whether it be unforgettable or not what you expected. You will still learn from it and grow. sometimes it’ll test you. Either way, you will come out stronger than before.

5. Are you ready to leave your old life behind?

Okay so, you don’t have to leave your old life behind. But just make sure that you come to terms with the fact that you will most likely come back as a different person. Not different in a bad way, but different as in that you have changed for the better. 

Having an open mind will help with meeting new people or even landing an amazing job. Traveling can help with that.

Sometimes pushing yourself out of your comfort zone can be a beautiful and terrifying thing. 

Living in another country and adapting to the culture takes a lot but I promise you, it will be worth it. 

Make that jump. Life is too short to wait.

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