You want to go WHERE? This is the question I’ve been getting a lot lately. Believe it or not, I do in fact want to go to Thailand. Voluntarily. What 27 year old girl in their right mind quits a perfectly good, well-paying job and books a one way ticket across the globe to a foreign country in which she’s never been? This girl, apparently. The persistent itch to travel has been knocking on my door for quite some time. I'm undeniably infected through and through with a burning desire to see the world. This ''WanderLAUst'' title may confuse you- so I'd like to explain. There aren't many nicknames for the name ''Lauren'' but a few of my very close friends found one: ''Lau''. I found it rather convenient that with one additional letter I could squeeze my name into a word that albeit overused and cliche, perfectly explains the motivation for my upcoming endeavor. I'm sure you've heard the J.R.R Tolkien quote ''Not all those who wander are lost.'' Well, I want to wander. And i want to get lost. Isn't that the whole point? And so, you get a word that's inclusive of my name and when read aloud describes my goals: wander, get lost, and by default, discover things about myself I otherwise would not have. One may say I’m brave for signing up…or crazy….potAto potAHto. I have to say I feel more crazy than brave with my departure date quickly sneaking up on me. In 29 days I’ll embark on the 21 hours long journey from Boston, Massachusetts to Bangkok, Thailand with a quick 3 hour pit stop in Dubai (I wish I had time to explore!). All I can say is there better be ample leg room for this female giant.
So why am I going to Thailand? Numero uno: my job is not for me. I feel like I’m bursting with creative potential that has been hibernating for years. It pops out and says ‘’what’s up’’ occasionally, but 9-5 jobs and real life are pretty soul-sucking as I’m sure you’ve all realized. As a result, I had a nice little conversation with myself during which I internally inquired, ‘’Lauren, what in this world would make you happy?’’ I came up with three answers to this question: taking pictures, traveling, and feeling like I’ve made a difference. The facts of my life are quite simple- I’m single. I don’t own a house. I don’t own a dog. I’m healthy. I’m not entirely poor. These qualities are quite serendipitous if you’re looking to flee the country for a year or so.
When I came across the opportunities that Greenheart Travel, a Chicago-based company that specializes in cultural immersion programs, could offer, I realized all of my boxes had been checked. I’d like to thank Mr. Adam Greenberg for sending me a Facebook friend request after mistaking me for someone else in 2005. Through him is how I first came to know about Greenheart. I discovered that with Greenheart's help I would be able to live abroad and make money doing so by teaching English in a Thai school system. What a lot of people in my current commercial real estate industry don’t realize is that I used to work with autistic children. It was an extremely rewarding job that I truly enjoyed. Unfortunately, it was the kind of work that could not provide a reliable income for a single girl. Shortly after making my career switch, someone very wise told me I should work with kids again. ''Be independently brave'' he said. Because of the timing my initial response was ‘’seriously!?’’ But, two years later here I am- on my way to being a teacher and being both independent AND brave. Now to be clear, if you compare to Western standards teaching in Thailand isn’t going to pay me well by any means. But for what I don’t earn monetarily, I will be well compensated for in culture and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and experiences. That, to me, makes it all worth it.
Now that my life has taken this pretty exciting twist, I'll soon have what I hope will be boatloads of material to write about. In creating this blog centered around my travels, I hope to be a resource for anyone interested in teaching abroad as well as a source of entertainment for anyone else that's curious about my travels and/or photography. Even if ''anyone else'' just happens to be my mom. (Love you, mom)