Comfort Zones?

“Is this even a Hotel? How much was this place?!”

I was in my last week of my TESOL ( Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). After a 13 hour bus/van from the pristine beaches of Sihanoukville….

I had arrived to this:


Please note, the mismatched, worn looking being, the “Pool Area” type of carpet(?) and the pleather couch that should have died in the last porno it was used in.


I was a little less than thrilled.

The foundation of this trip is about the experience, about keeping an open mind, about different perspectives, but 13 hours spent on a bus and then in a van, all I wanted was a clean bed with AC, and I didn’t exactly have either, I was out of my comfort zone, and the TESOL coordinator was going to hear about it. So there I was, angrily typing away at midnight complaining about our accommodation.

“Comfort Zones” theres an odd thought.

I wasn’t always like this.

Was I always like this?
Lets back up and talk about bugs.
I’m not a complainer, and I wouldn’t describe myself as “High Maintenance”
As a child that grew up in the ‘burbs, I’ve come across my fare share of insets. We used to have wolf spiders and cave crickets in our basement, all of whom I would squash after my mother instructed me how “Grab something and do it quick and fast!” One time, I nailed one spot on with a basketball a few feet away after a rather large wolf spider stopped me dead in my tracks when I went down to the basement’s fridge to get something (it was probably a hot pocket).

From here on, I was “the brave one” of my friends, killing the tiniest of insects and laughing at their screams. Bug crusher, lobster boiler, toad catcher, thats me.

Fast forward, 2013:

I moved to New York City with my best friend and her girlfriend. We were all broke; most of our paychecks going to rent and student loans. Shortly after moving, we heard our mutual friend getting beg bugs in her Brooklyn apartment. Bed bugs were a real problem in New York City at the time. We heard of the time, money spent and aggravation with building management, regarding eradicating the little blood suckers.
I was living paycheck to paycheck at the time, and if an enormous speed beep like this hit me, there was no way I would be able to get rid of them on my own. Anxiety and fear set in from then on coming into contact with these vermin.

Living in NYC, I got accustomed to seeing cockroaches here and there, calling (most of the time more than once) the super and having them arrange for an exterminator.
Knowledgable on all things cockroaches, when I got to Thailand, I grew accustomed to seeing a water bug here and there. It wasn’t that the places I was staying in was dirty, its just that South East Asia is a breeding ground for them; hot, moist/muggy, its the ideal place if you’re a cockroach.

“Hello my name is Cockroach!”

When researching my trip, I read about people getting bedbugs on the road. I researched everything I could, on identifying bedbugs and how to deal with them.

All I could imagine was me being bitten 200-300 times on a beautiful island in South East Asia, unable to communicate the problem to the locals, frustrated, in pain, in tears (and probably with a sad, Ed Sheerhan song playing in the background).

Ok, you’re being a lil’ dramatic, Jenna!

All these thoughts came to me as I looked at that “bed” and pulled out my laptop to email the coordinator.

“It will get better, its only for a week” my friend who was also in the program with me said.

“Keep an open mind Jenna, its all about the experience”, I said to myself.
But that night, I just wasn’t listening.

I went to bed (in that bed).

I awoke the next day unscathed. The programer coordinator did indeed offer to put us in another place, if I found one for the same price. I decided to stay put, it was the last week of the program, I could survive there for 5 days.

Better days ahead.

As the hallmark/facebook icon saying goes;


I finished the TESOL program, and received my degree. I got a job that following weekend (more on that later).


Officially Teachas!

Better days ahead.

The school I work for provides free accommodation for their foreign teachers. Being in South East Asia for 6 weeks and “Free Accommodation”, I reminded myself to “Keep an open mind”.

When they showed me my room; with its dusty floor, empty soda bottles on the desk, dingy but comfortable mattress (no bed bugs, I checked!) shoes and articles of clothing left from the previous tenant, I didn’t even flinch.


“This is great, Kop khun kah (Thank you)”.

Better days ahead.
Being here has tried and tested me, but in the process, has broaden my comfort zone to a bigger radius.
Yes, there have been bad days, but many many more good days, and I know many more to come.
I still haven’t look at flights home, which to me, is a very good sign, right?

Better days ahead.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Buck says:

    What does’t kill you makes you stronger. Go kick some butt


  2. Dale Stewart says:

    The way we look at it when traveling all experiences good or bad at texture to the journey. Enjoy the journey!

    Aunt Dale & Uncle Jimmy


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