The chances are that you are going to eventually go home and start to take life a bit more seriously after your stint as an English teacher in Thailand. I mean, come on... it's fun, sure, but the money is rubbish and there's really no future in it.
So, you've done a year or two or maybe even three and you're staring out the airplane window saying 'Goodbye!' to Thailand for the last time and recounting all the brilliant adventures you've had. The plane finally takes off from Bangkok and the harsh reality of the real world hurtles towards you faster than the speed of sound...
Already you are thinking about how you can translate your new superpowers into a career. You were pretty darn amazing before but now you are fantastic and nothing can stop you. But let's put down that in-flight magazine for a few minutes and think about how you've changed - because you have and all for the better, too.
1 - "Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet." - Aristotle.
After living in Thailand for a while, if you haven't learned to be more patient you'll have gone mad! Things here are just so hopelessly haphazard and disorganized that you'll have by now embraced a zen-like state of acceptance that things will go wrong. This sets you apart from your friends back home where your gift of patience will help you make more rational and mature decisions in the future.
2 - "When plan 'A' fails, you have 25 more goes!" - Me!
You are now much more perseverant than you were before. If you can climb through the bizarre hoops required to be a teacher in Thailand then any plans you make in the future are going to be easy-peasy to navigate. Everything from negotiating a rental contract to ordering clothes that fit is now a cinch for you!
3 - You can now mind-read. What could be cooler than that?
After spending the last part of your life in Thailand you've become an expert on picking up the physical cues that people give out. The Thai language is bloody hard to learn and you did your best, but most of what you understood was with facial and physical movements... and the good news is that these pantomime gestures are universal. You can now read people's minds just by looking at their bodies!
4 - "The journey is my home."
An extended trip abroad will really make you appreciate home when you get there. It will, of course, also make you more critical of home, too. Your newly acquired cultural perspectives will make you more fantastic because you can now draw on the best bits of both cultures and use them to suit you, while abandoning the bits of each culture that you don't like. Sharing this knowledge can make you look like a dick, so it's usually best to keep this one on the down-low!
5 - You are now an expert public speaker.
Remember that first English class you had and everyone looked at you funny as you stammered blindly through the present perfect tense rules? That joke you told that nobody in the class understood? Yeah, well... no more. You can now ad-lib your way to world peace in front of the United Nations when called upon. Or you can at least really enjoy making that best man's speech without looking like an ass!
6 - In a manner of speaking...
Supreme Court judge Clarence Thomas said that good manners will open doors that the best education cannot... or something like that. While that nugget of wisdom made sense before your Thailand adventure, the impact of your experience living amongst Thai people will really prove this to be true for you. Thais are extraordinarily polite and this has rubbed off on you, making you more fantastic to everyone that you meet!
7 - You are now a lot less confrontational.
Quiz time: So, you're at the Big C and you and your trolley full of goodies are stuck in an aisle behind a Thai woman with two young kids while she inspects the price of cooking oil. How do you react? Do you A - shunt her trolley with yours and give her a dirty look, or B - turn around and go the long way round before she even notices you? At Walmart this could have easily have turned into a fight... but this is the new you: less confrontational - more fantastic!
8 - You are now more accepting of unexpected changes.
Life in The West is all very well, but it's a bit drab. It's predictable and routine driven. When the buses are late or the store runs out of Toothpaste it's easy to be impatient and unforgiving. Westerners love to get worked up over stuff that doesn't really matter. But not you... Thailand had immunized you against the effects of unexpected changes. You are now more philosophical when things go wrong and more tolerant to the bumps in the road ahead.
9 - "He who will not economize will have to agonize." - Confucius.
You are now an expert at personal finances. Your time in Thailand has made you this way. Back home you'll wonder, jaw agape, how anyone can spend so much money on a fancy Starbucks coffee. You face a future of stress-free finances because you won't get sucked into all the Western traps of buying toys on the 'never-never' that you don't really need. In fact, your experience of living amongst Thai people has taught you the one true meaning of happiness, which is that having fewer needs is better than having more possessions.
10 - "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." - Wayne Gretzky
Finally, number 10 - You did it! Whatever happens in the future, you have your time in Thailand to look back on. So many people just wish they could travel and they talk about doing it, but not you. You did it and that alone makes you... FANTASTIC!
Good luck with your future lives and think about me, would ya? I'm still here!