JK, still in America!

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“If you care about something you have to protect it;If you’re lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.”

Originally, I saw this blog post going in a totally different direction. The type that is short and sweet and simply states ” I made it to Bangkok!”  But, you never know what is coming for ya, and today it was the wild world of airlines.

I wake up, I am all packed and ready to go. The day I travel to Thailand has come!  I arrive at the airport three hours early. Yes, three hours early, and I love it. I love airports and I love being punctual. Boom.  I said the difficult good-byes to my parents and I begin to walk through security, the world at my feet, exciting horizons ahead! But then, I hear, “Towler, Colleen , please return to ticketing.” My heart drops. I assume the worst, that they will not accept my one-way ticket despite my non-immigrant B visa and I am destined to have to buy a return flight my bank account is unable to afford. But no,- it is not so bad. It is just a simple flight delay. Now Flight 1336 from Detroit to Boston it is to arrive at 11:15pm instead of 9:30pm. This is not so bad!

Oh wait…yes it is.  EK238 from Boston to Dubai is to depart at 11:15pm. Okay, okay, this is alright…the world is trying to teach me how to start being able to “go with the flow” … and I can do this! Come to find out, EK238 is also delayed an hour, and I can make it! I could even have an hour layover still.  Unfortunately, this is short lived my flight just got delayed until 10pm. 15 min. sprint? Good thing I trained for a half marathon last year, I still got these running skills! Well, come to find out my running skills will  not be necessary. The delays just continue on and on. Hours  go by and there is absolutely no chance to make this flight anymore.  This is pretty bad…but the JetBlue representatives told me to rest assured. They were going to make sure I get on a flight, with the alternative being a hotel room in Boston.

If it was not already, this is when the whole situation became quite frustrating.I was told to call Emirates as they were the airline I booked through. They told me I needed to talk to Jet Blue. Repeat this situation again and again and there you go. At this point I realized there was no way I was getting to Thailand on time for orientation and I entered a glass case of emotion. I reverted back to childlike behavior in my mind, “this is not fair!” Finally at 10:15pm we board the aircraft. After sitting on the tarmac for a good half an hour, the captain tells us, we will be sitting their for another hour because the weather in Boston has worsened. This is when I  break my promise to myself and cry.

We finally get off the ground and begin our trip to Boston. However, by this point I was informed there is no way JetBlue will be getting me a hotel room, because they do not do so for inclement weather. We land at 1am.  I am in Boston, with 3 bags of luggage, and no hotel room. Lucky for me I am reminded of  the  ridiculously amazing people in my life when Colin drives down to save me from losing what was left of my mind. Plus he greets me with my favorite vice, Diet Coke. Amazing.

The next morning repeat telephone conversations with Jet Blue/ Emirates/ Jet Blue/Emirates. Nobody wants to talk to me because I didn’t have a proper confirmation code due to all the changes. Colin needs to go to work, and so I am at the airport at 10am. I wait in two long lines to try to get on ANY flight earlier in the day that will get me to orientation on time. My hopes are soon crushed. Not only can I not get on an earlier flight but I cannot check in until 8:15pm. The Jet Blue employee also informs me I am in the wrong terminal. I plead my case for the belief I was not, but she convinces me.

I trudge over to Terminal E with all of my luggage to wait until 8:15 p.m. Here I spend my day reading, online (until my computer dies), on the phone (until my phones dies), and writing.It is so obnoxious to take all your luggage to go to the bathroom. It familiarizes you with the pity eyes and smiles people have for you as  they watch the struggle. 8:00pm arrives and now I am informed that in fact I need to be in terminal C, where I started. I get all my luggage and repeat the process back.

With my 3 hour slumber from the previous night I am exhausted. I try to check in with Jet Blue.  They tell me I need to check in with Emirates. I turn to go, and exhaustion has gotten the best of me, I trip and fall. Not the dainty check yourself type fall. I fell flat on my side, like a tree falling down. And then, due to my 70L backpack with the majority of my things, I was unable to get up, stuck on my back like a turtle flipped on its shell. Some lovely gentleman picked me up by my shoulders. It was highly embarrassing. So I thanked him and ran away.

     Okay,I finally check in and make it past security.  But not without Emirates employees genuine concern about my well being. “Are you okay…you look exhausted.”  Past security I am going to meet Katrina, another program participant. Her flight was also delayed because of Boston weather. But before I get to the gate, I call my Mom to tell her I made  through! I start the conversation with, “Mom, I fell down, with all my stuff, like a turtle, and I could not get up” and begin to cry (again). Followed by, I cannot go to the gate yet, I don’t want to meet Katrina and be that girl…you know, the crying one.  But eventually I make it there. And here things start to go improve (Que: Here Comes The Sun). I slept almost the entire way to Dubai, which was 12 hours. And then the 6 hour flight to Bangkok as well. So, most importantly, I made it to Bangkok! My almost 30 hour travel time turned into about 60. But I think the real lesson is: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.” Or, as they say in Thailand,  Mai Pen Rai!

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Listening to : Do You Realize- The Flaming Lips

“It was scary at first, but every great thing starts out a little scary, doesn’t it?”

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.”

I was watching the movie “Warm Bodies” with my Mom and Dad the other day. This may be surprising for a couple reasons. One, that I was watching a movie, and two, that I stayed awake for the entire thing. (I have actually become weirdly obsessed with this movie, and watched it again since). In the movie the character “R” says ; “It was scary at first, but every great thing starts out a little scary, doesn’t it?” At that point my Mom looked over at me and said, “It does, right Colleen?” I couldn’t agree more. On October 22nd I leave for Thailand.I will be teaching English at Sanpatong Wittayakom School in Chiang Mai. Here, I will be instructing conversational classes for 7th graders as well as a reading and writing class for 12th graders.

111I am going on this adventure with the help of a non-profit organization CIEE, Which has made the process a lot easier. They have been extremely helpful. They offer teach abroad opportunities around the world, if anyone is interested! Through them I get to attend a week long orientation in Bangkok before heading North to Chiang Mai. Everyone in the program will be attending classes on culture, language, and TEFL theory. They set up a FB group for all the participants, as well as our in country coordinators in Thailand (from a company called OEG, also super awesome)! It has been nice to  share excitement and concerns with people who are about to embark on the same adventure. Fun fact: I read in Thailand English is taught as a foreign language; whereas in many countries English is taught as a second language.

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The best way to get ahold of me will probably be through e-mail, FB, and various social media ( Viber/ WhatsApp/ GroupMe/Google Hangouts/ Facetime/Skype/Line etc.) I literally downloaded all of those. I am bringing my iphone 4, which unfortunately does not have a sim card and therefore can only be used when I have wifi. In addition to my Iphone, I will have an old school Nokia-esque phone.This means brushing up on my sweet T9 skills! (TTFN / LOL / <3) I will post my Thai phone number when I get it.  Side note: this also means ending my long term relationship with Verizon, and probably losing my phone number (RIP -6636) when I return .

map-chiang-mai I want to try, though daunting, to express how thankful I am for all my family and friends. I have had so much help and support in this adventure… and in everything I do! I love you all so very much. I lack the words adequate in expressing how important you are to me. And I apologize for that. I wanted to start this blog so you have an idea of where I am, and I can still be part of your life even if I am far away. Please e-mail me (constantly!) and tell me what you are up. And for those of you who enjoy snail mail, you know I love it. When I figure out where you should send mail, I will post my address on here as well.

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Teaching and living in Thailand has always been on my bucket list, dating back around the college days. However, I have done a couple things in between. After college, I lived in Los Angeles for four years. I was dancing professionally (auditioning professionally anyway 😉 ), teaching dance, and working as an assistant and a receptionist at a talent agency. I met some amazing people in Los Angeles, and one of my favorite GV Michiganders moved out there! It is hard to sum up four years experiences into one paragraph, so I will just leave it with this for now: I honestly loved all my jobs in California. A large part of that was because I worked with amazing people at DDO/ MTA, Dancecapade, and Fox Studio. I am positive I have not thanked you all enough for being so awesome!

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After Los Angeles, I lived in New Hampshire for the summer.  I was living on an Island, on Newfound Lake, in Bristol. The island is magic. I fell in love with the boys, the staff, and the work in general with The Mayhew Program.  So one summer quickly turned into two. New Hampshire is one of the few places that feels like home. The mountains and lakes are incredible, and the people are kind. If you like pancakes ( or you don’t), Polly’s Pancakes will change your life. My personal favorite is coconut cornmeal. If you are like me, you will eat here once and only want to eat pancakes for the rest of the summer (2 summers and running). And I find that there is nothing wrong with that. On that note- NH maple syrup. It changed my breakfast life forever. And….East Coast breweries, delicious. For the record, I didn’t mean for this section to be mostly about pancakes. But, as is life!

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During the year I was back in Michigan living at home in Port Huron with my parents. This gave me the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my family, simultaneously giving me the ability to save up for this adventure. My parents are the most generous and kind people there are, if you know them, I am preaching to the choir. We enjoyed our time together doing very important things including; watching every season of Game of Thrones, eating delicious food, MSU football games, good conversations, and lots of laughs. Being in Michigan I was also able spend time with many of my closest friends. The type of friends that even when you don’t see one another for awhile, you come home and nothing has changed. There were weddings, Grand Rapids and Royal Oak adventures, dancing, half marathons, coffee dates, cider mills, painting classes, road trips, and so much more.

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“We need sometimes to escape into open solitudes, into aimlessness, into the moral holiday of running some pure hazard, in order to sharpen the edge of life, to taste hardship, and to be compelled to work desperately for a moment, no matter what.”

Listening to: The Naked and the Famous- Young Blood