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!
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.
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.
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,
Amanda Sumalee Dowput MacWilliam
My Thailand adventures are (hopefully) just around the corner. While I was filling out my resume for http://www.jobtopgun.com (one of Thailand’s biggest employment websites) I got my resume analyzed. I loved reading the results and thought I would share them with you all:
Year of Birth : According to your year of birth, you have very strong characteristics. With your level-headedness and tenacity, you will try your best to overcome any obstacle and accomplish the job at hand. Your good friends are persons born during the year of Rat (1984,1996,…), Snake (1977,1989,…) and Rooster (1981,1993,…).
Your music, sports and hobbies also reflect yourself. You always have modern ideas and seem to be sophisticated. You are optimistic, humble and peaceful. You are able to work individually. You are able to work in team and capable of beating an opponent. You enjoy competition. You are good at heart. You have good interpersonal skills.
Your hidden competencies are as follows :
Flexible / Adaptable [A]
Enthusiastic / Self-motivated [A]
Initiative / Creative [A]
Good interpersonal skills [A]
Skillful at planning [A]
High self-improvement [A]
Principled (thinker) [A]
Enjoy taking challenges [A]
Never give up [A]
Love to explore [A]
Willing to take on new challenges [A]
Organized / Systematic [B]
Get things done [B]
Ambitious / Achievement-oriented [B]
Winning Attitude [B]
Pleasant personality [B]
Skillful at applying knowledge [B]
Hard-working / Diligent [B]
Sociable / Extroverted [B]
Good presentation skills [C]
Adventurous / Risk taker [C]
Role conscious [C]
Trouble shooter / Resourceful [C]
Fast learner [C]
Team builder [C]
Good sense of color [C]
Enjoy working under pressure [C]
Positive (thinker) / Optimistic [C]
Having connection / Networking [C]
Good at heart [C]
Moreover, your strengths are as follows :
Ambitious / Achievement-oriented
Trustworthy / Reliable
Enthusiastic / Self-motivated
Positive (thinker) / Optimistic
It was really interesting for me to read these results. One section of the resume entailed picking out 5 attributes to describe yourself out of a list of 50 or so. You then had to list them by level of importance. Compared to this analysis, I was shocked at how similar our results were!!! Out of all those options the computer generated answers were very close.
I don’t really consider myself to be: patient, calm or decisive…BUT I do know I work very well under pressure. Ana, Emzie and Alfie know that from all of CFCS’s group work and endless assigments! I am also never ashamed to admit to my competitive nature 🙂
I have yet to book my flight or finalize my work plans in Thailand. Truthfully I have been struggling with MANY sleepless nights as I try to plan out my future. ALL I know is…at this point in my life–> I would prefer to book a flight to Thailand than Canada. I have considered writing a blog about: visas, work permits and employment in Thailand but I fear it could stress me out even more. Through my research I am slowly learning that visiting a country and wanting to live there TWO TOTALLY different things! It is nice that Dom and I are able to empathize with each others struggles. She is planning to move to New York City for a few months around the same time as my Thailand plans. It has been great to be able to vent with someone who is discovering the same issues. A strong support system during this difficult planning stage.
Thanks for all the positive vibes and words of encouragement from family and friends….especially to all my Thai friends who have proven to be such a strong network of women for me to bounce ideas off of!
Trying to feel blessed and see all the positives!
xox Amanda Sumalee
Today I made the big leap by purchasing the domain name: amansuma.com
Translation: typing in amansuma.wordpress.com or amansuma.com will bring you to this website. I also lifted the search engine block I had on this blog. So now if people are searching things on the web, a link to this blog could show up! Oh tres fancy!
When I purchased my plane ticket to New Zealand back in 2012, I knew I wanted to create a blog or website. I wanted a creative outlet that would help me stay connected with others, through my writing and photography. The outpouring of encouragement made me nervous. I was fearful that my motivations towards the blog would decline as time went on. I remained hopeful but apprehensive. Before I left I had promised everyone I would do my best! It feels good to have kept that promise.
Since Sept 9, 2012 I have published 45 posts and attracted over 1,170 views! That is unbelievable. I never expected so many people to take an interest in my life. The origination of this blog was to share my travel experience with those I love. Knowing that they are still invested in my life feels amazing. I started off not wanting to make the blog too personal…just in case people beside those I knew read it. I have progressively made the blog more personal. I welcome others to read my blog! I do get nervous about my privacy and sometimes need to remind myself it is no longer just people I know reading it.
I try very hard to keep my Kiwi-family has anonymous as possible. I am conscious to not post close up pictures of their face or reveal any personal information. I also try to use my friends’ nicknames whenever publishing stories about them. I want the focus of this blog to remain around my thoughts and views. My updates should become more frequent and more personal as I prepare to head off to Thailand!
I hope my constant template changing doesn’t bother everyone. I am haven’t found one yet that I have fallen in love with. I am trying to find one that looks great and is also easy to navigate around when wanting to post pictures into my blogs. I am finding some templates far easier than others. With new ones coming out monthly I am always excited for the updates. By no means do I call myself a proficient blogger but I will keep trying to hone my craft!
I want to wrap this up by thanking everyone who reads the blogs. Every time I look at the view count I smile!
xo Amanda Sumalee
*For family and friends who love my photos, my Facebook is once again up to date!
An excerpt from an email I sent to brother Reece a few days ago:
“Life could be better. A lot. Don’t worry I’m wearing my big girl pants! I’d let you know if it was anything serious…I can honestly say I feel grown up. Life is BEING experienced!”
Every word was the truth. There was a little sigh of relief in letting big brother know that my trip wasn’t ALL AMAZING and not everything I was doing these days could be chalked up to fun. It was Thanksgiving weekend and I was in now in Dannemora (about 45mins from Central Auckland) and I had not shared with any family members that my life got was getting a bit more adventurous. The timing of my situation coincided with Canadian Thanksgiving making me want to reach out a little bit to family. Not enough to worry them but just enough to keep them someone what in the loop! (Reece, Tyler, Lisa, and Helle thanks for emailing me about your Thanksgivings! I ABSOLUTELY love emails and hearing about the day to day stuff! xox)
So how did I leave Mt. Roskill and move to Dannemora? What happened and why I am no longer in Dannemora right now is what this blog will be about.
Pretty much as soon as I arrived in New Zealand I knew I should look for a new family. My spirits were shrinking as the days went on. I’m a fighter and I hate giving up, so for me to recognize that enough was enough was a huge step! I knew that I could “put up” with the family I was living with but I wanted BETTER for myself. I didn’t want to “give up” on this family but I also did not want the next 9 months leaving me bitter and depressed. With encouragement from friends I concluded that I really had to step up my search for a new position. I posted an ad online and kept a watchful eye out for anyone needing an Au pair I received a response from a lady seeking an Au pair to help her in her daycare. She lived in Dannemora which meant it would be a further distance for Emzie and I to commute. That said, I thought working in a daycare would be great experience and would look awesome on a resume. The accommodations sounded lovely as the lady had just moved into a 6 bedroom house. Laundry, queen bed, HEAT, TV lounge area, internet and access to an automatic car were all included. We emailed back and forth a few times and the lady said no interview was required. There was a 1 week trial period to see how I got on with the children. The only thing not included was food! It may not sound like a big issue but FOOD is SUPER expensive here so that and the location were too factors that I had to consider. Emma was heading to Australia (meaning no weekend relief) and I really wanted to get out of the living situation I was currently in. I agreed to give this new job a shot! At first the lady invited me to meet her at her house, but quickly made arrangements for her to pick me up as Mt. Roskill was quite a ways off from where she resided.
Having never met my new “boss” I was quite anxious but ecstatic to be leaving and heading to a daycare environment. The lady was over 30 minutes late picking me up so I was extremely on edge as to whether or not she would be a no show. Having had previous interviews cancelled and job offers filled I had put all my eggs into this one basket. She pulled up in an old mini-van and I instantly knew it was her. She was 60 years old lady driving a minivan that had definitely done many days of carpooling. The inside had not seen a vacuum in years. All this excited energy was running through my body as we drove away. To my surprise she informed me that we were making a stop at the ferries to pick up a young man from Ireland. He too would be moving in and working as an Au Pair. Was she hiring 2 people for 1 position? Was she getting more kids in the daycare? He was only staying 3 months where as I was staying for 6 months so maybe she just wanted the overlap? Questions were running through my mind as she was explaining her expectations as she drove us both home. She explained that she had over 100years of experience working with kids: she was a teacher, owned a daycare, helped employ Au pairs in Auckland. Recently she had sold her Daycare center and was working on growing her home based daycare. She was licensed to look after 6 children and she currently had 3 and would have a 4th child by the end of the month. Not only did she hire Au pairs but she also boarded international students and couples and taught English and tutored from her home. She was always busy and was working on trying to retire in 5 years. She told us she just moved into a bigger house 3 weeks ago so there was lots of room for everyone. She has a lot of experience with Au Pairs and nannies as she has employed over 100 but at least 70 have only lasted a week. Hence the one week trial, if she likes you, you sign a three month contract and have to have a criminal record check conducted by the Ministry of Children and Families.
Long story short –even though she had a brand new huge house to live in we did not agree with how she ran the daycare. This was fine as she let us know she did not like either of us either. She had a 6 bedroom house with a huge front yard and backyard yet she was running the daycare from her garage! The kids and the Au pairs spent their time in the garage all day while at home. The only reasons we were to go inside the house were to get running water (dishes, and drinks) or to use the bath room. It was just so weird. We were meant to believe we had access to the car but soon realized when we weren’t working the car was off limits. We walked to the nearby grocery store and unhappily bought our groceries. We both commented on how we felt we were both in college again living off cheap noodles and bread.
After the first few hours of living there both the Irish man and I were looking for other work. The car had 2 seat belts that were broken and the car seats looked ancient and very unsafe. The seat belt that was strapping the kids into the seats were twisted and not nearly tight enough. The daycare itself had so many safety hazards from no childproof cupboards to tools lying around to sharp edges.. It was completely NOT at all what we had expected. The ad was so FAR in left field from what we were dealing with. After the first night of looking after the children the Irish guy was told he wasn’t what she was looking for. As soon as he told me I knew there was no way I was living out here alone with her. So I spoke with her and asked if we had been “applying for the same job” and if so, he could have my position as I was looking for an Au pair job closer to the North Shore. She told me even if I left she still wasn’t going to be hiring him. Then the very next afternoon she told me she was through with me too and didn’t need me. It’s a shame because the 3 kids were so much easier to look after than the previous 2 I had. I preferred tag teaming them with the Irish lad but when he left it was still manageable to look after the 3 on my own. So that was my three day experience in Dannemora.
This blog became WAY longer than what I was planning on typing. So I will do another blog about where I am at now… mentally and physically! Thanks for reading!
After months of talking about the blog I finally created brown eyed girl. I chose this name because.. though I have lots of unanswered questions in life > ONE certainty remains …I am a brown eyed girl 🙂 (And who doesn’t … Continue reading →