“Oh! The Places You’ll Go…”

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go…

This is one of my favorite quotes, but until recently I hadn’t actually read the whole Dr. Seuss story that this quote comes from. It starts like this:

“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to great places!  You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Coming to Thailand on my own was a huge risk. I did my research, but there’s no way to completely prepare yourself for what you will encounter here; and that’s what makes it so exciting. There are many things that motivated me to come here and the main one being to make a difference. I wanted to make a difference in someone else’s life and hopefully, in turn, make a difference in my own life. When I heard all of the negative things about my placement in Sinakhon, I was really nervous. However, I wanted to give it a fair shot myself. I came to Thailand for a reason and I believed that I was placed in this town and at this school for a reason.

Here are some of my favorite things about this town/school… The best part of every day was playing soccer and basketball with the kids after school. I also met people in the community that took such great care of me. From my housemate, Stephanie, to our neighbors that bring us breakfast and dinner every once in awhile, to the Thai friends that invite us over for food and drinks, I am so grateful!

“I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up In a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?”

As with any adventure, there are some not so great things that have happened here as well. I’ve been here a week now and to say that this week was tough would be an understatement. Obviously, I was feeling quite homesick. It was my first week living in a town in the middle of nowhere. It was also my first week ever teaching. Being the only native English speaker at my school didn’t help either. The list could go on and on, but I’m not going to dwell on the negatives. Long story short, I decided not to return to Sinakhon School. There are many things that factored into this decision, but essentially this school was not equipped for a foreign teacher. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I need to do what’s best for me.

“I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone! Whether you like it or not, alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and you, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.”

I hit a low point on Friday. During one of my classes, I came back from lunch to find 5 or 6 M6 students (the equivalent of high school seniors) sleeping on the floor of my class with the lights off and AC cranked. This was the quietest and most well-behaved I’d ever seen this classroom, so I let them sleep while I looked up flights home. My mind had been made up; I couldn’t do this anymore. I have been homesick before and I know that this feeling was different; this feeling just wasn’t right.

Later that night I met up with some Thai friends to try and get my mind off of everything. The minute my one friend saw me she asked what was wrong. I told them I didn’t think I could go back to Sinakhon on Monday. Since this is such a small town, they know about the school and its history with foreign teachers. These people owed me nothing, but apologized to me for things turning out the way they did. They were so unbelievably kind and after having one of the toughest weeks of my life, they gave me a weekend that I will never forget. In just 2 days, we saw a beautiful elephant sanctuary, toured a small gold factory, got our fortunes from a temple, went to a Thai disco, attended a Thai version of a potluck, ate more mystery food than I could ever imagine, visited Sukhothai Historical Park, and rode my first motorbike. Woah! While I was only here a week, I now know the reason I was sent to Sinakhon. If I hadn’t come here, I never would’ve met these amazing people. I can barely speak their language and they can barely speak mine. So instead of using words, they communicated with kindness. Their kindness and reassurance are the reason I’m not on a flight home right now. I don’t think they’ll ever know how much that meant to me.

So thankful for these people!

So thankful for these people!

“But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many A frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike, and I know you’ll hike far and face up to our problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with great care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act.Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.”

I have grown up so much in the last 6 weeks and I’m so proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished. Just being able to post something this personal on a blog is an example of how far I’ve come. I could easily pretend that this experience has been a breeze, but that’s not the reality. I came here to learn about myself and by gosh, I’m learning haha! After speaking with my agency and thinking about what’s best for me, I’ve decided to move to another town and try teaching at another school. I don’t know all the details yet, and this is Thailand, so the details will probably change 5 times before I actually get there, but this new school/town sounds like it might be a better fit for me. This is just another curve ball that Thailand has thrown my way. I might hit it out of the park, or I might strike out. Either way, I’ll still be swinging!

Oh, the places you’ll go…”


One thought on ““Oh! The Places You’ll Go…”

  1. jennalynmc says:

    So well written, Colleen! I’m glad that you’re doing what’s best for you and giving a different school another shot – once you have the resources you need (like desks, for example?), you’re going to thrive as a teacher!!


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