1 Year Anniversary of Living in Thailand!

I have spent a total of 2 years living overseas. 365 days since I moved from New Zealand to Thailand. All the planning, stress, anxiety and sleepless nights worrying lead me to my life now. I am so thankful that I WORKED and made my DREAM a reality. There were many moments where I thought about throwing in the towel and booking a flight back to Canada, instead of a one way ticket to Thailand. Since grade 8 I dreamed about coming back to Thailand and living here, not coming back as a tourist, but experiencing day to day life in my homeland. Try to reconnect with my culture and experience living somewhere else other than North America. The paperwork/politics of trying to live here, the language barrier and the anxiety over finding a job, and living accommodations while being Thai illiterate has made me a much stronger person!

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If I had to define my year in Thailand it would be; self-discovery. I am a transracial adult adoptee (TRA) who is continually trying to figure out my adoption story and ongoing life story. Racial and cultural issues play a deep role in my identity. I have always felt like I was searching for something unattainable. Becoming more self-aware continues to help but never solves this problem. Learning more about racial and cultural issues and discovering communities of support have been life changing. The amount of literature now out there and currently being published is encouraging. I  realize the concept of HOME is ever evolving for me. Being an adoptee will always be a lifelong learning process.

All that said – living in Thailand has made me appreciate all the opportunities I was given growing up as a Canadian citizen, in a household of 5. My family will always means the world to me. I will never be able to express the gratitude I feel for the life my parents gave me. They may not have “given me life” – but they may as well have put air into my lungs. When they chose to adopt me I was welcomed into a beautiful family with so many people to love.

I am proud of myself. The other day someone very dear to me reminded me that I should feel super proud of all I have achieved and accomplished. Moving and living in Thailand is no easy feat. I took a moment to really reflect on just how far I have come. I have always described myself as shy, almost deathly shy. When people argue that I am anything BUT SHY I become immediately defensive. Maybe it is not that I am shy but overwhelming self-conscious?? Many adoptees identify themselves as being codependent. Mix that in with the desire to try and always please people and you create a big insecurity problem. I care what people think. I wish I could always have my supportive group of friends and peers around me. I value their opinions ALMOST more than my own. I want to make other people happy. I want to laugh and smile and to make sure others are enjoying themselves too. Travelling alone has really helped me establish my core group of people. People who love and care about me. We ignore the distance and focus on the constant connections. Thankfully, I also do make friends relatively easy. There was never really a time that I felt alone in New Zealand or here in Thailand. I know what I want in a friend and I am finding it easier to let go of those who don’t put the effort in. In Canada I used to try so hard to hold on to weakening friendships. It really isn’t possible to be friends with someone who doesn’t put in the effort. It has become very clear to me that I work extremely hard to stay in touch with my friends, and I am ever so appreciative of their love in return. No matter the time or distance we have been away their love and energy means…Everything.

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Not only do I have a wonderful family but I have had the continual joy of being welcomed into the lives of countless other people and families. My time in New Zealand was so memorable because I was welcomed with open arms by 3 great families! Here in Thailand my friends have all introduced me to their friends and families. It feels great to feel like a community member of their tight knit group. My Canadian friends have always made me feel like extensions of their family!  I am forever grateful to have shared in so many great memories.

I had originally planned on sharing some of my opinions and experiences of living in Thailand but I think I will save that for a separate post. I want to end this by answering one of my most asked questions, “When are you going back to Canada”? My answer to that is I really don’t know. At least once a day I think about it and what my plans for the future are. This quotes sums it up really well.

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Sorry it has been ages since I have blogged. Believe me I think about posting often. I don’t know how many I have composed in my head…someone needs to invent a keyboard that types out your thoughts!!! Much love and thanks to everyone who reads this. Thank you all for the support. I have travel blogs and pictures to share..one day!!

Lots of Love Always,
xoxo
Amanda Sumalee Dowput MacWilliam

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Everything Happens for a Reason?!

These past few months keep surprising me with unforeseeable outcomes. Many have been so  amazing. That phrase of EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON is feeling like a reoccurring theme in my life.

In 2012 I joined a Facebook group called Bangkok Expats. I made a post about my back story and how I was eagerly planning my move for 2013. Mia replied to my post and we quickly began swapping stories of our Thai adoptions and our present life. I felt an instant kinship to her. Not wanting to go too deep into Mia’s personal story I can say that she is a Thai adoptee like me. She was adopted into a loving Australian family and raised away from her homeland.  At the age of 21, she flew to Thailand alone to travel and discover the country. I was fascinated at how many similarities we shared. I felt an insta-bond to this lady I had yet to meet. My commute to getting to Mia and her husband Eddie’s house was memorable. Meeting them for the first time was both exciting and amazing. It just refueled my joy for having made it to Thailand.

To get to Mia’s house was an adventure in itself. I had never been to her house before and FOR THE LIFE OF ME could not locate it on a map (paper or electronic!). I was nervous to have to take a taxi for the first time. Recently, locals and tourists have felt  the need to share horror stories of tourist being kidnapped or being taken on the LONGEST route possible to their destination. Mia reassuringly told me to call her if I had any hassles and gave me all the details on how much the fare should be and what possible routes the driver would take. I was feeling excited and nervous.

On a daily basis drivers of: tuk tuks, motorcycles and taxi’s honk at me or slow down to try and get me to hop aboard. I always try to look uninterested and keep walking to whatever destination I am heading towards. So the first time I need to hail a taxi I thought it would be easy! I kept scanning the traffic and standing as close to the edge of the sidewalk as possible. I knew that if I walked to BIG C and the other shops there were always vehicles hanging around waiting to drive people. I was just so stunned that no one had picked me up by the time I was almost halfway to the shops. I then spotted a green and yellow taxi (with his light on) coming out of a soi. I waved at him and he nodded his head. I confidently took the front seat and optimistically asked him if he spoke English.  He said, “Little bit”! Phewff I was able to exhale. I got a good vibe off of him and the fact that he answered back in English. I was very prepared for the, “Nitto”.

IMG_0411Well to my AMAZEMENT my taxi driver not only spoke a little English…HE SPOKE a lot and we were able to converse completely in English. It did make me slightly nervous when he told me he had to tell me something, “I have to tell you that the green and yellow taxis are private. We don’t belong to a company”.  I gave him this blank stare. He quickly reassured me that I was SAFE! He just wanted to let me know that people in green and yellow taxis own their own cars and make their own hours. So he is selective as to which passengers he takes. He bought his car from a dealer and designed the inside of it. I asked him why he chose for his car to have cable but not a gps system? He said he found them to be unreliable and got more lost with them. Not even 2 minutes into the ride I noticed a Canadian flag sticker on the meter. (OF COURSE I NOTICED it because whenever I am in any taxi I always incessantly check the number as it grows bigger and bigger!) The taxi driver told me that Canada is one of his favourite countries. For respect to the couple’s privacy I won’t share their whole lives’ histories but …again I felt like everything was happening for a reason. His wife is American, whose Dad works (worked?) for an oil company. She was born in New Mexico but did a lot of moving around as a child. Their family moved to Thailand and that is where she met him. She is now an English Kindergarten teacher. We switched contact info and was told I could call him if I ever needed a ride. I could even schedule times days in advance. So fancy 🙂
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Let’s just say I am now friends with 2 amazing couples! Both women met and fell in love with Thai men and never left Thailand. So sweet. So romantic.  In one day I welcomed 4 incredible people into my life. Thailand is really living up to its name: The. Land. Of. Smiles.

Thanks for reading!
xox
Amanda Sumalee

P.S. So proud of Kiwi Momma for all her blogging of the Singapore/Hong Kong trip. I knew you could survive without my IT services 🙂
P.P.S. Looking forward to reading all of your NEW YORK blogs DOM! This is so exciting that you will be in your “home away from home” so sooooon!!!!
What a great blogging community I am helping to create. Go Suma go!

walking, busing, motorcycling, taxi, BTS Skytrain = successful 2nd day

Day 2 at the Embassy Hotel

I woke up to my delicious breakfast of: sticky rice, fresh fruit and coconut yogurt. (As I type this I notice little ants crawling all over my keyboard – They better stay clear of my fingers or they will be squashed or blown away!) Pi Loong brought over some freshly cut up papaya for me because she thought EVERYBODY loved it…I am the minority. That is one fruit I just do not enjoy. I did try a piece since I haven’t had a piece in years. I will admit it wasn’t as bad as I remember it being but I was not a converted fan!

mapAfter breakfast we had a look at my map AGAIN.  I just feel so disoriented. In New Zealand I was trying to circle places on my map where; hostels, hotels, Babies Home and friend’s lived. In general  I have a horrible sense of direction and was really wanting to get a visual of where everything was located. My Thai/English map is pretty detailed but it is still so hard to find anything. Pi Loong says there are just so many streets in Thailand!  I had the address of Hope Academy School and Pi Loong said she knew where it was, but I wasn’t convinced. To her defense; she knows the Suhkumvit area really well. She was born in Thailand but has been living in the United States on and off for 18 years. I keep calling her my little American because she is so westernized now. All I knew was we had to head towards Victory Monument then walk a few blocks more to the school.

We caught a bus easily. I like how passengers pay their fare once they are seated. A bus attendant comes to give you your ticket and change if needed. What I will have to get use to is hailing the bus and climbing the stairs as it is moving. I watch people hop  on with their flip flops and I worry that they will miss a step and fall and get crushed! We got off at the Victory Monument stop and thought we were going the right direction by walking along Ratchawitee Road. Unfortunately what we were not aware of was the fact that we were going in the opposite direction. We kept walking and walking and I couldn’t see ANY building numbers. Pi Loong asked a motorcyclist where to go and HE LED US a Stray BIG TIME. She had advised me to always ask a motorcyclist if you are lost because the “the streets are theirs”. They will always know the roads better than taxi drivers. Well my first experience with them wasn’t amazing. We passed a street sign pointing out different locations of landmarks. It showed that Victory Monument was behind us. At this point I had a strong feeling we were lost and going in the opposite direction. It was HOT and I was getting disgusting purse sweat! As we kept walking she informed me that the motorcyclist said he would take us to our destination but she said NO WAY! She was too scared and never rode them. She said we were learning by walking. After more walking she finally asked another 2 motorcyclists for help. I was confused when Pi Loong told me okay we would go with them. She had passed up the last offer. Now I knew we were lost. I was excited to finally be able to stop walking!

So my first motorcycle experience in Thailand was scary FUN. My friends KNOW I love me some motorcycles. The faster the better! But these drivers weave in and out of traffic like they own the road. I was peering inside peoples’ cars and inches away from touching their side mirrors. I thought it was great that Pi Loong was facing her fears and that we might actually make it. WELL while on the motorcycles our drivers stopped a few times to ask for help. So my confidence in finding the school was wavering. They dropped us off at a building and told us we were close to where we needed to go. IT WAS NO WHERE NEAR the right place. We were both frustrated at this point. Pi Loong wasn’t happy that they dropped us off at the wrong place and now we were more lost. Well we eventually did make it back to Victory Monument by way of taxi. I think there is around 5 lanes of traffic that loop around the Monument with 8 different turnoffs? That may be an exaggeration but It is one busy place. We had been so close — if we had just taken a different direction when we got off the original bus ride. Luckily we DID make it to the school. I think it took us 3 hours or so to make it but it was worth the journey.
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school The school didn’t’t look anything like the website pictures. It is located down a soi (small side street) and I never would have found it without actively looking for a sign. I was relieved to see a receptionist when I entered the building. Unfortunately I quickly realized the receptionist that spoke English was on a break and this girl covering barely spoke. Considering it is a language school to Learn Thai you would think they would have had someone who spoke more English than she did. She kept trying to get me to fill out enrollment forms. I was trying to tell her I was already signed up and paid my fees. I wanted to know the class schedule and if I needed to sign in? Pi Loong was trying to help translate but it was making the girl more confused. She was on the phone a few times to tell the receptionist they had lost my paperwork and she didn’t know what to do. At this point I BEGAN TO WORRY that maybe I wasn’t signed up as a student and my middle man had organized my visa but not my tuition fees. I was trying to get a hold of him and he wasn’t answering his Thai number. That made me nervous. I WAS NOT GOING being scammed was I? The girl was asking me for my passport and if my paperwork had gone to Laos? Thankfully another staff member that spoke English cleared everything up for me. He informed me you simply show up for classes. Again, that seemed odd. How did they know I had paid a year’s worth of tuition if they couldn’t even locate my paperwork? Oh well not my issue. What did rattle me a bit was when the staff member was asking me why I didn’t speak Thai. He was asking me what level of Thai I felt I was. I answered that I was definitely a beginner!! He didn’t seem to believe me. I explained that I was raised in Canadian and therefor never learned Thai. Hence the reason why I had enrolled for classes. He thought it was funny that I didn’t know Thai. Like he was expecting me to be fluent in it. Kept asking, “Really? Really why don’t you know it”? Hopefully these classes pay off! After at least an hour of unnecessary waiting we were finally able to continue our day.

We caught the BTS Skytrain back  to the BIG C near the hotel. At this point it was around 4:30 and I was exhausted and sweaty. I was hoping to go back to the hotel and shower and grab a quick nap before meeting a new friend Kaimook at 7:00 at MBK. Pi Loong thought it was best we go on the BTS Skytrain and head over to MBK now. I half-heartedly agreed. I had not planned on looking or feeling the way I did to meet a friend for the first time. I wanted to freshen up but it wasn’t really my call. I would get totally lost without Pi Loong’s help so whatever she was saying goes! I bought a pass for the BTS and tried to catch a couple minutes of sleep. We got off at the Siam stop…and then Pi Loong started to ask for directions. We weren’t lost  this time..just needed a little push in the right direction. I felt the need to apologize to Kaimook when I saw her. She had come straight over from work and was dressed in a lovely skirt and blouse with gorgeous heels! I was in my denim shorts and tshirt…with frizzy haggard looking hair. It was quite the contrast. She laughed it off and said I looked like a tourist. Oh man I will need to class up the wardrobe once I am employed 🙂

Photo found on google images

Photo found on google images

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MBK is 7 story shopping mall that is VERY popular to both tourist and locals. There are so many different shops and gadget booths. Kaimook was my technology angel that night. We went to her friend’s stall so we could get the “friends discount”. I got my internet all sorted out. I traded in my locked iphone 4 for a gently used unlocked iphone 4s. They transferred all my pictures and some of my contacts over. I had to buy a data plan for my sim card so I could get 3G internet and wifi but I am all hooked up now. It has been great to actually have an Iphone that works again. I used to have to push the home button repeatedly until it worked. Taking pictures was a nightmare because it took so long to get to the camera! I am also glad I didn’t buy an internet stick for my laptop because it can share a network with my phone. So convenient! It will be nice to be back to only having one phone! In Ne w Zealand I always had to make sure I had to have my Iphone (to take pictures and wifi) and my NZ phone J

We dined at a yummy Thai restaurant then said our goodbyes. Pi Sangwan met up with us at the hotel later that evening. It was so nice to have Pi Loong and Pi Sangwan together in the same room again!
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This was a pretty long blog. I plan to keep the upcoming ones shorter. NOT full day experiences anymore. Too time consuming trying to stay current on my blog and journal!

Thanks for reading
xox Amanda Sumalee

PS. The 3G internet is great when it is working. Unfortunately for me it is pretty sporadic. Just decides when it wants to work! Luckily there are a lot of free wifi areas close to the apartment and most bus stops have TRUE wifi host spots which is my service provider.

PPS. Remember you can click on ANY of the pictures to make them bigger and clearer 🙂

Why Thailand If You Miss Your Family?

The other day my 10 year old asked the question, “Do you miss your family?”

Instantly I answered, “Yes all the time – I love them. But I also love being here with you and living in New Zealand too.”

His eyebrows furrowed when he asked, “Then why are you going to Thailand?”
I was now confused…did he mean MY FAMILY the only family I have ever known? Or the two people who are biologically related to me; who chose to give me up for adoption?

His innocent question is what finally compelled the completion of this post. I have been meaning to post more on the topic of family for quite some time. I have so many partially typed notes that it’s time to sort through them and start posting. I am not getting any younger 🙂

He has cousins that are adopted so he has a great grasp of the concept of adoption. When I first moved in with his family; I had explained that I had lived in an orphanage in Thailand until the age around 2.5. My parents (the only 2 people I have ever seen as the definition of my parents) then adopted me. Shortly after my adoption we moved to Canada where I have lived virtually my whole life. With a little help from his Mom, I explained I have always called my parents, “Dad” and “Mom” because THEY ARE my parents. I was just a baby when I went to the orphanage and know no different. I do not believe I could be ANY CLOSER to my brothers, had they been biological or not. I grew up feeling very close to both of them and feel blessed to have such a great bond with both of them.

After clarification, I understood he wanted to know why I was travelling to Thailand if my parents and brothers lived in Canada. I had to remind him that yes my parents and brothers do live in Canada, but I am an adult and haven’t lived in the same house as my family for years. Yes OF COURSE I miss seeing my family and friends but I have wanted to go to Thailand for a long time. Just like I had traveled to New Zealand, I would continue on travelling before flying back to Canada.

Canada is where I have grown up, but Thailand is where I was born. I am a Thai-Canadian who only feels Canadian. I am not able to relate to my Thai roots. My dream has always been to live in Thailand to learn more about MY culture. My dream vision for myself would be to instantly be able to assimilate myself to all things Thai. I know that is not realistic but it’s what I want. I want to no longer feel like an outsider. I am sick of feeling like a tourist. I look the part, now I just have to feel it. I realize I am putting a LOT of pressure on myself with this upcoming trip. I am trying to lower my expectations but it is so hard when I have dreamed of this moment for so long!

Thanks for reading – Buddha Blessings,
xox Amanda Sumalee

First picture with my new haircut :)

First picture with my new haircut 🙂

26 Places I Have Been in the World

I can’t believe I am turning TWENTY SEVEN in under a week! This blows my mind that I am almost thirty. In honor of my impending birthday, my next few posts will be lists with 26 bullets.

I feel so fortunate to have already traveled to so many different places in the world. It is depressing how poor my memory is and how many places I have to be reminded of having been to. I have always had a horrible memory and mixed with my lack of geography knowledge and awareness it took WAY more time than it needed to for such a short list.I know I have left A LOT of places out but here are the 26 places that I remember going to.

~*~CANADA~*~

1. Victoria (British Columbia)
2. Nanaimo (British Columbia)
3. Port Alberni (Ana’s homeland!!!) (British Columbia)

Tofino with my CFCS lovers xo

4. Tofino (British Columbia)
5. Vancouver (British Columbia)
6.  Calgary (Alberta)
7. Edmonton (Alberta)
8. Sarnia (Ontario)
9. Toronto (Ontario)
10. Ottawa (Ontario)

~*~UNITED STATES OF AMERICA~*~

11. Florida
12. New Orleans
13. New York
14. Las Vegas

Seattle’s Beerfest!

15. Seattle

~*~MEXICO~*~

16. Ixtapa
17. Mazatlan

Mazatlan, Mexico

18. Cozumel

~*~EUROPE~*~

19.  Madrid
20. Barcelona,
21. Seville                 

             

~*~AFRICA~*~

22 Morocco
23. Chad

~*~ASIA~*~

24. Nepal

Chitwan, Nepal

Bangkok, Thailand      

25. Thailand

~*~NEW ZEALAND~*~

26. Auckland

Piha, New Zealand

***Adding the pictures to this POST was BEYOND frustrating. It probably took me at least 4x the time it should have to get all the pictures added. Some were deleted in the process and the original format of this post has gone bonkers! I will try to add the pictures that got deleted sometime…WISH this format was exactly like Microsoft Publisher where you could just drag and drop your pictures in

New Zealand Observations

I meant to turn my “Observations” into a post over a month ago but never got around to it. I can and can’t believe I have been living here for 2 months. Time is going by fast now but when I first arrived the days would DRAG ON.

Going barefoot is a Kiwi thing and I LOVE IT. The children frequently go to school with no footwear. Adults are often seen wearing jandals (they are not called sandals here…jandals. I JUST started using the word, took me forever to remember and say the word correctly). I don’t go barefoot when I am out shopping but if I am with the kids, at the beach or site seeing with Emzie I have embraced the bare feet!

Pluralization of words: Emma and I keep noticing that construction signs and advertising often (unnecessarily) make words plural. Naturally Em and I used to yell out every time we saw a sign. It is just so grammatically incorrect.  They appear everywhere so we are pretty accustomed to them at this point.

Lifts – In Canada I grew up calling them elevators. Here they are called lifts and they go sooo slowly. It is usually faster to take the stairs!

Roundabouts – They appear everywhere. In Victoria they are pretty sparse but not here.

U-turns -They are not illegal and people LOVE to do them.

Shoulder checking – everyone uses their signals if they need to switch lanes but NOBODY shoulder checks. It is just not done here. Emma and I were horrified when we first made this discovery! They just rely on their mirrors.

Gas stations are known as petrol -If you need to fill up your tank you need petrol. Pharmacies are called chemists and small shops or convenient stores are called dairies. They have ON THE RUN here which makes me want to run in and get a slushie or Tim Ho steep tea double double…but sadly neither are an option. You have to go in and pay at the counter. You can pay before or after but there are no key-fob options or credit/debit slots.

Driving the speed limit/car conditions -You really don’t see a lot of people speeding. Even on the highways people usually go the speed limit or below. I think a huge factor for this is HOW MANY opportunities people have to park their car on the road. So many streets feel so narrow to drive because there are cars parked. You quite often see car mirrors cracked because someone has side swiped them. It is also not uncommon to see peoples bumpers all scratched up. There are LOTS of accidents here. Emma told me that you do NOT have to have car insurance here so people choose to drive without it. If they have an accident they don’t bother paying the expenses of fixing their cars. (Out of the 3 homes I have lived at in NZ, at least one of each of their vehicles has noticeable damages from previous car accidents). Also there are electronic road signs that show you your speed as well as signs that warn you to slow down. They have “hidden” permanent radar guns that photograph your license and send you a speeding ticket in the mail if you are going to fast. I think most people know where they are and Emma and I rely on our GPS’s to warn us. I am pretty sure you can receive a ticket if you are more than 5 clicks over the speed limit.

Ethnic restaurants – I was just shocked to see how many different restaurants there were to choose from! Walking down Queen Street day after day had me seeing so many different food choices. It was just so unexpected.

Company names – A lot of products are called by the company name. Instead of what the item actually is. Some examples: Handy Towels (instead of paper towel)..ok clearly I will need to think of more.

Lollies – candies in general are called lollies: mints, suckers, gummy candies they are all called lollies by children.

When people are inquiring as to where Em and I are from they ask, “Where is your accent from? Instead of where are you from?” For some reason I find it far less invasive than:WHERE are you from? I also have people ask me what is your ethnicity? It’s a tricky question for me because I know people WANT me to say Thailand but I always answer with CANADA. And then they say oh really? Prodding me to answer born in Thailand but lived in Canada majority of my life. I am more forgiving of people in NZ asking me instead of Canada because none of my friends or family EVER got asked in Canada. Here Em always gets asked so I am not being singled out…for being brown.

The Sun – As I had been warned, the sun is very strong. At the children’s schools they have a rule that no child is allowed to play outside unless they are wearing a hat. When my kids go swimming they were wearing a shirt or a wetsuit to protect their skin from the sun. My legs get so brown so fast from just sitting outside reading or laying at the beach. I haven’t worn sunscreen yet but I am constantly putting lotion on my legs, feet and arms because they get SO dried out from the sun. Crossing my fingers that I don’t get any bad sunburns this summer. I have to drink a ton of water daily or I suffer from headaches.

Christmas FEVER – They start preparing for Christmas before Halloween is even over! Christmas decorations and carols galore. The newspaper is thicker then ever with all the flyers. I LOVE ITTTT!!!!!

I have not decided if I will add on to this post or post an observation 2. I know there are way  more things I could write about but I  really want to get back to my book 🙂

Sending you all happy vibes,
xoxo Amanda Sumalee

Being Blessed is Exhausting…

After 7 months of trying to decide where my future would take me –I have FINALLY arrived in New Zealand. I can and CAN’T believe I actually moved away from Canada. After all the stressful nights and mini melt-downs, I can lay back and breathe DEEPLY. Anxiety attacks did NOT hold me back and I thank all who showed me how strong their love for me really is! Telling people you are moving away REALLY let’s you know who truly does love you!!

Thank you so much to my parents, Dom and CC for my amazing sendoff! Around at the airport with plenty of time to get my: Timmy Ho fix, shared some poutine and got to indulge in a bathroom photo session! Even had enough time to look at all the magazine covers and hum and haw over throwing my money away. (For those curious; I resisted the urge and spent no money on a gossip mag).

The plane ride was pretty uneventful. I did score a window seat with nobody sitting directly beside me. The passenger sitting in the aisle seat next to the vacant seat was just as excited as I was that no one would be sandwiched in between us. It made my travelling experience that much better! I have yet to dislike flying. Take off was 30mins late – yet we still managed to land in Auckland 30 minutes ahead of schedule. When I landed it was pitch black out and raining. The whole team at Air New Zealand Flight 83 was magnificent!! Super friendly and professional the whole flight. The plane landed around 4:35am and I was able to get through: security, baggage claim and bio hazard screening and a bathroom break all before 5:40am 🙂

Those in my host family are so gracious and warm. I already feel a strong connection and know it will be hard to leave come May. It did not take long for both girls to feel comfortable around me. They LOVED their little tutus. The fit was amazing and I can’t wait to post a picture of them wearing them. When I left a few times to go to my room to try to unpack the little 4 year old would ask her parent, “Where is Amanda?” “Why is Amanda not here?” So many memories already shared today….maybe I should buy stocks in Kleenex now?!!

During the rainy ride home, I was second guessing myself for not packing more pants and hoodies. AS A HUGE hoodie lover I was questioning why I had boxed and left so many in storage? By the afternoon the sun was out and the warmth was felt through the kitchen and living room windows. A smiled set in and I realized I had made the right decision. I packed enough clothes and no matter what I packed I was going to have an amazing experience.

I have already indulged in homemade peanut butter cookies, homemade pizza (mine was vegetarian and beyond delish), and an amazing lentil and avocado salad. Tomorrow I get to munch on homemade carrot cake!!! Thank baby Buddha they have a treadmill 🙂

It’s 2:45am (BC time) and only 9:45pm (NZ time)and having not had a nap makes me EXHAUSTED!!!
xox Amanda