While many friends have been very supportive of whatever that I’m doing, there is bound to be a few friends or even relatives who would go like, “Why is he teaching rural kids in Thailand when he could have continued lecturing in a Malaysian university? What is he even thinking?” I’m usually lazy to even address such questions, but now I will. First fo all, everyone has different needs and aspirations. Travelling, learning and understanding different cultures, as well as gaining new experiences are among my NEEDS as an individual, as someone who is keen to tap into the area of cultural studies for my PhD. As much as I think money is important, unfortunately we can’t have money and everything else all at the same time. When you’re after money, you probably won’t have time to pursue other things; similarly, when you have all the time in the world to follow your passion, to explore places, to experience life in another country, you probably have no time to make money. Unless you’re born rich, like Paris Hilton. Which, of course, you’re not, so you need to stop putting the “$” symbol into every equation you stumble upon and judging me as if teaching the rural kids in Thailand for two years will make me reductive, just because what I’m doing does not fit into your typical social norm. Secondly, during these two years in Thailand, I’ve saved enough money and also paid my own bills – even my housing loan in Malaysia. I’ve supported myself by not only working as a teacher, but also selling food. So when I leave Thailand next month, I won’t be leaving empty-handed. I will be leaving Thailand with skills that I didn’t have a chance to pick up when I was working as a lecturer in Malaysia. I won’t be leaving poor because I’m richer in knowledge and skills now compared to when I just arrived here some two years ago. Thirdly, I know when enough is enough. I know when to stop and move on. After spending two wonderful years in Thailand, I know it’s time to go back to pursue my PhD and teach in the higher education arena as I prepare to marry my fiancée. Having said that, these two years in Thailand are a blessing to me; they’re like a dream I don’t want to wake up from. This entry is written in the form of an “aside.” To follow my asides, click here.
My post-engagement days and last 6 weeks in Thailand: As some of you have probably already known, I have made a rather sudden decision not to re-sign my contract with my current school in Thailand in order to return to Malaysia to pursue my PhD. As much as I’m unwilling to go back and many of my colleagues and my school director would love me to stay, reality has to be faced. My future matters, our future matters. In a year’s time, I’m going to marry my fiancée, and teaching in Thailand as a school teacher won’t do me any good in the long run as a foreigner, as someone who had served in the Malaysian higher education industry for eight years and who has plans to go back to being an academic. And yes, my better half and I just got engaged yesterday (will blog about this when I’m a bit more free), and it was a step forward for both of us. So these few weeks have been crazy with so many unexpected events and plans and tasks cropping up, and I’ve been juggling between classes, assessing students, prepping for my, err, post-Thailand life if you will, engagement stuff, and packing, among others. It’s a good thing, though. Going about all these tasks, big or small, I’ve begun feeling the amazing rush of adrenaline and excitement inside of me. It’s something I’ve not felt in a while. This also confirms that it’s time to leave this comfort zone that is the ever amazing and beautiful Thailand, for something more important, for the next chapter of my life. Anyway, this entry may occur to you as weird, which it is, because I’m posting this under the format of “aside,” which is styled without a title and similar to a Facebook note update. To follow my asides, click here.