Do you believe in College campus romances?
I mean it’s the time when skinny jeans is not yet the fad and girls don’t shape their eyebrows. Not yet. College campus days are days where you began to dream about your future, exploring your own defenses and suddenly you met the love of your life.Like a modern fairy tale where you actually end up with each other,sharing a journey together, and realizing that you are living out a dream, like serendipity… An answered prayer.
This is the story of Rann, a Pinay Expat in Thailand. Her exciting story being one Expat Mama is our next feature for our Expat Mamas around the World series. This modern fairy tale story and journey to Motherhood is set in the Land of Smiles in Asia, Thailand. Known for its exotic beautiful beaches and rich culture, It’s no surprise that my friend from Campus days, Rann, moves her marriage and lives there for almost a decade now with her husband, Pin, (who is a Thai-Filipino) and their two adorable sons, Elijah (7 ) and Luke (1).Together they search for family- friendly getaways, indulging in kaleidoscope of Buddist temples and shrines, chasing white elephants and eating too much Chia seeds.
Here’s my Interview story with Rann , her own Expat Mama story :
A Pinay’s journey to Motherhood in the land of Smiles
Rann is a lover of books, a Bibliophile all year round. A certified book shop-hopper as well as fashionable baby-wearer. A Preschool teacher and a super Mom 24/7.
Born & raised in the Philippines, she developed her love for Diversity when she married her campus sweetheart, Pin, while both studying in the University of the Philippines. They got married in 2006 and eventually hop on the Expat life & move her marriage to Thailand. Rann is a coffee drinker and has a habit of ‘Procaffeinating‘, or a.k.a not starting anything unless she had her coffee.
A glimpse of Thailand from an Expat eyes
While being on a steady dating for years, Rann already had a hindsight that moving to Thailand is no surprise anymore. Either for marriage or Work, Thailand is a great destination for Filipino Teachers which has very good command in English. It is a famous travel destination for tourists and a magnet for Expats from all over the world. The Buddhist culture of this country is a prominent identity . At the heart of everything, there are shrines, temples, and monasteries known as ‘wats’. Buddhism is an essential part of the Thai culture.
On Bangkok as a very hectic capital
Our home is in a province 100 kms away from Bangkok. We love that we are not too close but not too far from the capital city (and the airport!). Bangkok is a totally diverse place mixed in with the religious landmarks and is one of the world’s most hectic capitals. The traffic is crazier than Manila. Bangkok is a strobe-like city, where motorways have 12 lanes, markets have upward of 15,000 stalls, and restaurants are so concentrated, you’ll never be more than 50 metres away from one. Talking about living in a cosmopolitan who never sleeps at night.
Although we are not in the big city, we have everything we need here. There are places to bring the children to, good schools to go to, hospitals with superb service, it is safe and clean. I do not at all miss the pollution from the big city.
On having Quiet times and date nights as couple
Being married for almost a decade now is a milestone. Ten years are not just a number, it’s a lot of hard work, making each day a spur on our marriage. With Pin’s demanding job in the medical field, I have learned to protect our marriage. As an Expat, I have seen examples of living abroad without their spouses & children. I am grateful that we are together as a family here in Thailand. Having a preschooler & and an active toddler didn’t hinder us from having Quiet times together and having same ‘Rock foundation’ that keep us close.
On Thai’s way of greeting others
I’ve learned how to greet with the head bowed over clasped hands (wai), and not to use body language so much as most Thai people keep their heads, shoulders and arms very still.You also wai to say Thank you. Almost same as in my home culture, showing proper respect is a huge aspect of Thai culture.
On being a working Mother of a child with special needs
It becomes my number one priority to be the Teacher for my sons. I believe that it shouldn’t matter how slowly a child learns as long as we, as parents, and first Teacher to them, are encouraging them not to stop. This is not just a chore for me nor comes with a paycheck. What I teach in school came from theoretical study approach but with your own child, it’s totally hands-on,by mother’s instinct, a pure labor of love.
Since I am a preschool teacher by profession, with a degree from the University of the Philippines on Child Development and graduate courses on Early Childhood Education. I have been teaching pre-kindergarten in an international school for the past 10 years. Prior to that, I was a preschool teacher for three years in the Philippines. I got paid for teaching young kids,shaping them in their early years. But the time I’ve got to squeeze time to be a wife and mother with my sons, it’s priceless.
I am a mom of two boys, 7 years and 1 year old. My older son (E) is a gifted, loving boy with social and language challenges while the younger boy (L) is showing a strong personality but is equally sweet like his brother. No, I am not planning on having more kids. I have two hands, so I will have two kids. My husband, being in the medical field, is not always home so I am often on my own with the kids. So 2 is just perfect.
Share something about the current country you are living in and notable aspects of life.
On learning the Thai language
Thailand is a very interesting country. Some might think there won’t be much of a difference as it’s also a South East Asian country like mine — but there are huge differences. Arriving here 10 years ago, the language barrier was overwhelming for me. How can I ever learn this language when I can’t read it? Learning Tagalog is easy because if you know your ABC, then you can read it. Not with Thai. It is also a tonal language so there are words than can mean 5 different things, depending on the tone you use. As I’ve learned to speak the language, it has become better. It is still a challenge sometimes (like explaining what you’re feeling in the hospital, getting things done in the bank, requesting for information, etc.) but I am able to understand enough to get by each day. I am still hoping to formally learn the language but that has been on hold since kids started arriving.
On why Thai food is loved internationally
The food here is great! Well, I am speaking from an Asian point of view — I love my carbs (they eat rice, too — hooray!!). Authentic Thai food is one of the best. I needed sometime to get used to the smell of some food but overall, food here is the best. I do miss my Adobo and my Bangus every now and then but it helps that you can basically cook the same Filipino delicacies as most of the ingredients can be found locally. There are plenty of Asian shops where you can get the ingredients.
On importance of Education and learning comfortably
Growing up in the busy and populated Manila and spending many years in Manila’s business district, I am very happy that we are in a more laid-back city here in Thailand. I am happy that we are not raising the kids in a condo in a high rise building in Bangkok. My kids can run outside, play with neighbors, swim anytime, touch the grass, pick up stones nearby or enjoy the beach every now and then. We have international schools around and since I am teaching in one, my kids have the opportunity to study here for free. We can only be grateful. Sending them in a Thai school is something I will not do. I believe children learn best when they are in an environment they are comfortable in, a place where they feel they belong, a place that do not put too much pressure or expecting too much from them. The Thai system is very traditional. My son, being with special needs, cannot possibly thrive in a Thai school.
On Pregnancy, Maternity Fashion and Giving Birth
When I was pregnant with my first son, we were just new in Thailand. And since we are an hour away from Bangkok, I didn’t know where to get stuff (for baby and for pregnancy) in this side of Thailand. It helped that I was skinny then. I just got my clothes from the regular ladies’ section but got them a size bigger. Pregnant Thai women love to wear tent-like dresses. Not all, but most. Even in their first trimester, they are already wearing dresses that can accommodate 3 of my preschoolers. I knew from the start that I will never wear one of those! Six years after, while pregnant with my second son, I knew better. I brought maternity clothes from home and from the US. For many traditional Thai, they believe that you’re having a healthy pregnancy when you’re big. I was skinny until my 7th month. I remember my husband’s aunt saying “You might have a very small baby, you don’t look pregnant at all.” My son was born at 3.8 kgs and 51 cm long. Not small at all.
They have lovely hospitals here so I had a pleasant birthing experience. You do need to find a good doctor who speaks good English, not just some English. I was lucky to have my sister in both deliveries to help me with the baby while I was still sore.
On having a Hired help
Raising the kids away from my country is not easy. I guess it has its advantage as well — you get to do your thing — but predominantly, it’s a challenge. It is very hard to find help (nanny) that you can trust with your kids and your home in a country where you can’t speak, read or write their language. I’ve been lucky to have a lovely trustworthy lady from the Philippines as well but there’s always that anxious thought that one day, she will have to leave and move on with her life as well.
On Thais being clannish and living together as a Family
They have certain ways of raising kids here that are very Asian and some are uniquely Thai. For one, the children are so used to being fed even when they’re already 3, 4 or 5! Also, many children grow up with their parents, grandparents and a nanny at home. These children grow up not being independent and self-reliant. They are used to having people do things for themselves. This is somewhat same back home. It is a struggle to make sure even with help around, I want my kids to grow up not feeling entitled and not being able to care for themselves.
What is your opinion about raising your kid as a third culture kid? Are you happy that you are raising an Expat Kid?
I am happy that they will grow up being exposed to different cultures and languages. It is my hope that with this, they will grow up respecting these differences. At the same time, it is my hope that they will grow up being aware of their very own culture. It breaks my heart that my older son does not speak my native language (Tagalog) but I have to choose my battle. He didn’t speak until he was 3 so I am just grateful for the fact that he speaks a lot now, although just in English.
My husband being half-Thai, I consider my kids “third culture” but at the same time, not so “third-culture” kids. At the end of the day, whether third culture or not, I believe the values they need to learn does not change.
How do you make an impact as an Expat Mama in your country of residence?
To respect the culture they have but be secure of what I am and who I am, learn what I can learn from their culture but at the same time share what I can share from my own culture. I believe that as long as I can make an impact to my own children, then I am making an impact to the society we are in. In raising quality kids, I am contributing for a better generation in the future.
Thank you so much RA for sharing your wonderful Expat Mama story with me. Your life is beautiful because you are one beautiful soul inside & out. It is a pleasure to be in your circle.
P.S All photos are owned and courtesy of Rann. Should you wish to use it, please mention or inform her. You can follow more of her Expat Teaching stints in her Facebook and her Life as a Super Mom in her Instagram Page.
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Are you an Expat Mama and would like to share your own Expat Mama story with us? Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow other Expat Mama Stories around the World . Follow my Twitter page and my Instagram page for updates on my Expat Life in Bavaria .