Expat Socialisation…

To set the story for you… The Clowns are all settled well with their school lives, Marc is super busy with his work, the apartment stays clean with no one home most of the week but me, and there is only so much housework I want to do anyway before I will no doubt start loosing my mind.  Or maybe I become one of those people that start raging when someone doesn’t stack the dishwasher precisely, or doesn’t put something back EXACTLY where they got it from.  Not close by, not sort of back but EXACTLY IN THE CORRECT PLACE.

Upon reflection, I may already be border line with this small issue… maybe…

I’ve now eventually come to the realisation that all the usual social media outlets and the messaging and the face-timing in the world just does not make up for having a real live person in front of you to talk to.  Even though I love all of the above and am truly grateful that we live in such a tech advanced society, it’s just not the same as in your face contact and connection with another human being that doesn’t (always) involve the Circus…. I need to do something about this or I’m not going to cope well here in Bangkok with only the dog, four walls and the occasional chit chat with some poor customer service soul I notice can speak more than a lick of English, and lucks out and gets to serve me!

While I can be quite extroverted with my safe and cosy circle of friends and family, I’m not great in new social settings. I tend to just sit back an observe, rather than join in and let people get to know me, and I them. This is a slight hurdle for one who has left all her safety net just over seven thousand of kilometres away!

So off I go, diving head first into the realm of Expat Socialisation or Operation Make New Friends.
Scary stuff, right?!   

First off, I volunteered to help in Ella’s classroom once a week with reading groups.  Man, some of those kids are amazing!  There are three Japanese students in her class that could not speak or read a word of English when they started at AISB.  Now they are already reading simple readers and can generally understand what you are talking about.  It has been so cool hearing their reading an comprehension improve, even in just the short time I’ve been helping out in the class room…  Definitely a worthwhile hour out of my day.   But this isn’t really helping me make any friends or meet any parents.  I’m at school in the very middle of the day for reading groups, not near pick up or drop off time!

I have joined a few expat and Bangkok residents Facebook groups, which mainly consist of ads for rentals and stuff for sale…  Disappointing so far, to say the least.  It seems as though the same people are active in several groups and just post the same ads in each group.  Not really what I’m looking for, but I haven’t given up on good old FB yet.  Maybe I just haven’t searched for just the right word to lead me to a more relevant group? Watch this space…

Next, I joined Meetup.  It’s an app that helps you find groups based on your location and what you are interested in.  For example, you might enjoy board games so you’d search for that in your area and see what groups there are and what events they are holding.  This has been the easiest place to find things to do that I would be interested in.  And so far, it’s been a success.  Just by joining a few groups that sounded interesting, you could easily fill your week with all sorts of events and activities, from lectures to trail walks to coffee to book clubs and more.  You get the idea.  Go download the app and see whats near you!  Even if you are a local, you might find something new to try!

I stalked Meetup for a couple of weeks, looking at events and checking out times and locations and didn’t commit to anything.  Actually, just getting to the point of joining a few groups was an accomplishment for me.  And reading about what groups have planned and what they had previously done was entertainment enough in the beginning. Once I’d joined a couple of groups, some coordinators and members touched base and welcomed me, said hi, offered to answer any questions I may have etc etc.  My impression was it’s generally a nice space to be in, kind of like Instagram 🙂 I got talking to one lady in particular and we ended up exchanging further details and kept chatting while she was out of the country.  This week, we finally met up in person, and she introduced me to one of the Meetup groups that she regularly attends (a weekly Friday coffee and chat – perfect!).  While I was hesitant, four hours of easy conversation later, I am so glad that I went along.  As a bonus, Friday was a holiday in Bangkok so I dragged Marc along too and he even enjoyed himself!

Finally, I made myself join a local Pilates studio.
For three reasons :

1. To get myself out of the apartment at least twice a week
2. To get back into regular exercise
3. To hopefully find some like minded people at the studio

And I can tick all three of those goals!  Back track a few days to Wednesday, where I met a lovely lady from New Zealand at my first group Pilates class, who immediately invited me to the monthly meeting of the ANZWG.  Straight after our class.  An opportunity not to miss, I thought, and one that didn’t have time to back out of as I had no time to overthink the situation!  Perfect!  Walking into an unfamiliar apartment full of Australian and New Zealand expats was a little overwhelming.  But the very best part? Listening to thirty odd women talk amongst themselves (and to me), with my home country accent.  It made me smile.  It was music to my ears!  The ANZWG wasn’t a group I was familiar with at all, but wish I had of found before we relocated.  Those ladies are a wealth of knowledge, and even have a couple of publications to help newbie expats like myself to settle into life in Bangkok.  I joined their organisation on the spot and am looking forward to what the 2018-2019 year brings for this group.  There is much I can be a part of with this group, so I may find myself volunteering to help out on their committee in the near future…

So…  Wednesday was a busy day.  I also had dinner with a lovely lady who is moving to Bangkok in the coming months and was over for a few short days to suss out apartments and schools.  She is someone I connected with on one of the random Facebook expat groups and we had been chatting about all things expat over the course of a couple of weeks.  It seemed silly not to catch up while she was here and had time.

Another real life connection made…

That’s three in one week.
I haven’t had that much social interaction since we left Brisbane!

Now I’ve dipped my toe in, I am also going to research Air bnb experiences and classes that are available in Bangkok and surrounds.  While there may not be anything for me to do in the immediate future, when we have guests come and stay, doing a cool food tour or cooking class would be a great option to just seeing all the usual touristy things!




Weird Easter…

You know how you have those holidays throughout the year that you treasure more than others? Well, Easter is one of those holidays for me. And I think I can confidently speak for the rest of the Circus and say it’s one of their favourite holidays too. It’s not even because there is chocolate involved!

*Although that does help 😉

So, with that knowledge in hand, we thought we might have what will be our first major bout of homesickness over the weekend. The Easter long weekend. Almost a non-event in Bangkok. Well actually, pretty much a total non-event in Bangkok….

A normal Easter for us in Australia? Well, the long long weekend would usually consist of egg hunts, BBQs and catch ups galore with our friends and family, hideous amounts of chocolate consumed (Easter chocolate totally doesn’t count), fires and marshmallows, new winter flannelette pjs for the kids (and usually us adults too!), floured EB paw prints, earlier sunsets and a change into the cooler months of Autumn (my absolute favourite season). And if it isn’t all of the above, it’s four days spent camping (and doing some of the above!)…

So, you can see why we thought everyone, including Marc and I, would be feeling out of sorts and missing all our favourite people more than normal. It doesn’t help that we also have a whole of of birthdays around Easter, so the catch ups become even more special when it isn’t only about the chocolate.

Friday.  Good Friday.  All social media is filled with Easter fun and baking and people starting their holidays.  I actually had to stop looking…  It sucked.  And I started feeling sorry for myself, which isn’t a great place to be.  Thankfully, and completely by accident, Marc had an annual leave day so we got to just hang out while the Clowns were at school.  Hello $13 hour long massage and an uninterrupted coffee date…!

Saturday was ordinary and then weird.  We hit up the Ekamai Organic Farmer’s Market to bring home Ella’s weight in french breads and did all the usual Saturday things.  We didn’t even leave out a carrot for the EB.  Nor did we put out the few eggs we did manage to find for the Clowns.  They would have melted overnight!  Weird.  Really weird parenting moment.  I imagine that’s what it will feel like when we don’t do Santa presents anymore…  Hopefully that’s a long time away though!Platter dinner for Saturday night to fuel up for Uno Wars!

Sunday.  Easter Sunday.  When I had a mild panic that we didn’t wake up to three crazy excited kids who had discovered what the EB had left for them.  Ahhh nope!  It was the complete opposite actually!  They totally understood that Thai’s don’t celebrate Easter, as a gross generalisation, so it’s not a recognised holiday for them.  That’s why they didn’t see aisles and aisles of chocolates in the shops, or adverts for Easter services, or egg hunts in the park etc etc… And they really took it in their stride.  They were super happy with their two small token eggs each and they were excited that we had found some Easter activity to go to for the afternoon, and that we let them eat ginormous chocolate croissants for lunch.  Winning!

So that brings me to today.  Easter Monday.  The Clowns have gone to school and Marc has gone to work, like any normal Monday.  Today has been OK.  Productive.  Good even.

*Not counting that I may have broken the washing machine… oops!

We survived the weekend that was.  Without tantrums or whinging or sadness or homesickness.  I am chalking that up to a win for the Circus.  Marc’s only comment all weekend, funnily enough, wasn’t even about this particular weekend.  He’s already thinking months ahead and mentioned that he is very thankful that our besties (Hi Mac’s!!)  are coming to stay for Christmas and New Year, because that holiday season has the potential to turn into a homesick train wreck!

Whatsapp-ing the Mac’s to sing happy birthday to Rob!