I Still Call Australia HomeAmp
These are the words to a song written by Peter Allen (a once famous Australia artist who moved to America to seek fame and glory) in 1980. Last year, after the death of my elderly father (my mother the previous year) I decided that at the ripe “young” age of 52 that I needed a change. I had a Thai girlfriend (who came to Australia and missed Thailand too much) so – what the heck – let’s move to Thailand.
I had no where to live, no job, little to no knowledge of the language and could count my friends on 3 fingers. 2 were Australian and 1 was Irish. I can’t eat spicy food and am allergic to crustaceans (shellfish – most Thai dishes contain this ingredient) and only knew the area of Thong Lor to Siam on the BTS. I had nothing to lose except maybe my sanity.
I found a place to live early on (great location in Asoke) and then wondered about what I should do to occupy my days. After sitting in coffee shops for 2 months feeling lonely and sorry for myself I thought that maybe I should find a job and use my teaching skills. I applied for a part time English teaching role at Language Express – this was just what I needed. Even though it was only 4 hours a week I could talk English to real English speaking people rather than speak “Tinglish” with the Thai’s (you know – long vowels and every word ends in a rising tone).
I was the only Aussie working at LX – there were teachers from England and the U.S – and, of course, Thai’s. At first I don’t think anybody understood my accent (certainly not the students – I’m still getting the odd choice moment about my accent and the speed at which I talk) and I think even a few teachers had trouble. But I got busy and low and behold I’m now full time!
Joe’s blogAs can be seen from the above, I’m trying to make a new life for myself. It’s hard as I’ve left behind family and a great network of friends. Back ‘home’ I was a very social person. I was always out having coffee or meals with friends basically all day every day. When I wasn’t eating or drinking I was bike riding, hitting the gym or attending the many sporting events Melbourne had to offer. Here I have none of that. I can’t just pick up my phone and arrange to meet friends. Sometimes, when times are hard or I just need a friend to chat too, I can’t do it. And, when I ring home, the time difference means I’m always missing my friends as I ring them after I finish work (9pm in Thailand) which means it is midnight back in Australia.
I have no plans of abandoning Bangkok (or even Thailand) in the near future. I just need to focus on learning the language better and, hopefully, finding some new friends. I’m really relishing teaching English especially at LX. The staff (Thai and foreigners) are a fantastic, eclectic bunch of people and the students are great. They are a great source of entertainment and are all so eager to learn our language.
As the title says “I still call Australia home….for now” but who knows? Maybe be in a year or two I’ll consider Thailand my home!
by Joseph Luzza