It’s the little things

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve written because, to be honest, I forgot I had a blog! 😂

But since my last update, I finished my first semester semester of teaching, took an amazing trip to Bali with my best friend, and started my second semester of teaching. The first semester was an altogether awkward trial that went amazingly well. However, this second semester has been a bit more challenging because classes keep getting cancelled for random reasons. I can’t help but feel like I’m failing my kids simply because I haven’t been able to teach them regularly. But I’m learning to roll with the punches and deal with the boredom that coincides with sitting at a desk and not teaching. Plus, my classes have started to get cancelled less this past week and I’m hoping this trend continues!

Sunset in Bali

December was awesome! My school was participating in sports week (mix of field day with track and field) on the 25th so I didn’t get a Christmas this year… which was very strange. Thankfully though, that didn’t bother me too much because the next day my family arrived in Thailand! I waited, not so patiently, at the airport where every time someone exited I got more anxious. When it was finally my family I did, what I told my friend I definietly wouldn’t do… I cried, in the middle of the airport making a scene like a fool but I don’t even care!

At the blue temple in Chiang Rai

We then had the most surreal 5 days together. It felt as if the past year apart hadn’t happened and certainly didn’t feel like it would be another year until we were reunited again. We saw the sites, walked with elephants and talked about everything! I even got them as obsessed with 7-eleven as I am (those of you in America won’t understand unless you’ve been to an Asian 7-eleven, they’re just better). Though, the pinnacle moment for me was introducing them to my host family. My worlds collided and they all got along so well, despite not being able to communicate very well. It was a fantastic trip that filled me with so much happiness!

A look of fear mixed with incredible excitement

January rolled around and my co-hort and I had officially been here for 1 year. With that corresponds the infamous “one year slump” in Peace Corps. Oh boy do I hate to admit that I fit a norm, but I can’t deny that it has been a slump. I think mine was caused from saying goodbye to my family for another year, as well as not feeling successful in my teaching, plus just an altogether loneliness I feel living in a community where I can’t fully communicate with anyone.

My village’s celebration for our local temple

But I’ve made the decision to stop looking big picture when I start to feel these emotions because they’re just too overwhelming. Instead, I’m going to start appreciating the little things. Such as a class that went successfully, a moment of bonding with my host family, a student answering a question outside of class, being greeted with a thousand “good morning Teacher!” everyday and the phone calls with my friends and family. I’m going to soak in these moments no matter how small they may seem and hope they build up to slowly pull me out of this slump! And after a great trip to Krabi (the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen in my life) with my friend plus a Sunday filled with phone calls, I feel myself getting better already.

From our island hopping tour in Krabi

Don’t get me wrong though, I am so happy that I’m getting this experience no matter how hard it gets. I’ve grown a lot, learned an insane amount and met some of the most amazing people that will be in my life forever! I didn’t sign up for Peace Corps thinking it’d be easy so I’m well prepared to grin and bear the hard aspects. As I approach my half way point this month, I can look back on my service thus far and think of some of the best times in my life, some true lows and every emotion in between!

Some amazing PCVs I celebrated the Lantern Festival with

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Hello beautiful people! I suppose one shouldn’t write a sorrowful post and then wait a few months to update… WHOOPS!

I am doing infinitely better now that I am teaching and have settled into a routine. In the mornings, I walk to school with one of my adorable first graders and any other students whose parents’ drop them off as they pass. After school, my walk home is joined by a group of at least six students from first to fourth grade. In between my escorted walks, I get to teach these incredibly bright, eager to learn students (first through sixth graders). They’re the reason I’m here and they’re my favorite part of my site. They put a smile on my face everyday, either in class or simply walking around the school and being bombarded with “Hello teacher!” That’s not to say there aren’t bad classes and sometimes even bad days; but they’re now few and far between thanks to these incredible students.

My deaf second grade student greeting me as I arrive at school in the morning.

Additionally, I have grown to love the teachers at my school. They love practicing their English with me or giggling at my Thai. We took a school trip together to the gorgeous northern providence of Nan. Since that trip, I have had a bond of friendship with these teachers! Plus, we’re sharing a lot culturally which is one of the main goals of Peace Corps. They help me see the Thai perspective on things while I love to tell them how different things are in America.

Us on our trip stopping at a waterfall, despite not actually hiking to see the waterfall…

During the week, my host mom and sisters live in the city where my host sisters receive their education. Meaning, I mostly live with my host grandma (Yai) and grandpa (Dtaa). These two are so cute and love to send me off to school everyday with enough bananas to feed a 300 pound gorilla (we have many fruit trees at my house, including banana trees). I love sitting and eating dinner with my Yai every night because she’s one of the few people at site that actually tries to communicate with me in Thai (instead of looking at me like a 3 headed monster as some do when they don’t realize I’m speaking Thai, not English, to them). I remember once, my Yai told me that when I leave in two years she’s going to be very sad so I should stay here forever instead. That instance was when I truly realized her love for me, helping me feel more at home here!

Me with my Yai and Dtaa

The best part about serving for the Peace Corps in Thailand the ability to travel to so many beautiful places. I have been on many trips since my last post; some were long weekends off from school, others were to celebrate birthdays and one was a two week Peace Corps training. I’ve traveled to Bangkok (again and again), Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Kanchanaburi and Phuket. I absolutely love exploring this country with my fellow PCVs and meeting new friends from across the world! Phuket and Hua Hin are both beach towns meaning that, after 6 LONG months, I finally got to swim in the ocean again. Which of course meant that I spent full days submerged in the water (turning into a prune); how could I possibly sit on a beach with the ocean in front of me!? I cannot wait to explore more of the south including the beautiful islands there that I have not yet made it to. Coming back to site after these adventures can be hard but I always have my next adventure to look forward to. For instance, my friend and I have a big trip planned to Bali for our semester break in October!!

The people that keep me sane, my Posy

A Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from The Gambia, named Lacy, came to visit my site. We biked around my town and she met some of my students. My host family adored her and even told her to come live with us! She was lucky enough to come the weekend before my birthday where we celebrated with a northern Thai traditional meal called Mu Ga Tot (Pork Pan). It was fun to share my site with another farang (foreigner) and it showed me even more how lucky I am!

My family and Lacy eating Mu Ga Tot

I’m definitely riding the roller-coaster that is Peace Corps service still, but as of right now it’s on an upward trend that I’m enjoying! Nothing about being a Peace Corps volunteer is easy or normal, but it’s been an incredible seven months of learning: learning about a new culture, learning a new language, learning how to acclimate to always being sweaty and even learning a lot about myself.

Celebrated turning 23 in Phuket with fellow PCVs

*P.S. for those that don’t know, my community went through a tragedy when 12 boys and their soccer coach were trapped in a cave for weeks. I wrote an article on what that was like for our Peace Corps Thailand Sticky Rice Magazine that you can read here:

Someone should probablly teach me how to sugar coat this!

Ok to be honest, this post has taken me awhile to write because I haven’t really known how to or even wanted to try. But now that (what we were told is) the hardest month of our service is over, I’ve decided to give it a go.

First off, I’ve had plenty of both good and bad days since coming to site. Peace Corps likes to call it a roller coaster ride of emotions, and I’d definietly say that’s accurate! My host family is usually the root of my good days here. They’re incredibly kind and treat me well! They’ve shown me all over their lovely home here in Mae Sai and, wow, there’s plenty of beautiful things all around me! That being said, it is a smaller town so we saw most things within the first week. Meaning, for the next three weeks, I mostly just sat in the car while they ran errands around town. Which was cool at first because I got to see what their lives are like and important parts of the town. Then, things got really boring.

(just a few of the lovely women that makeup my host family. The background of this photo is Myanmar and Laos, the Golden Triangle)

Those of you that know me, know I’m a high energy individual that likes to be constantly entertained. So, for me, sitting around the house or in a car for long periods of time got real boring real fast. This all accumulated when my host family took a 16 hour road trip “to the beach”.

(highlight of the trip for me was finding this beautiful lake only about 2 hours from home)

There were 7 of us in a 7 seater car plus Thai people don’t care about personal space; so it was real tight. On the way there, I convinced myself it’d be worth it to finally be reunited with the ocean. We got there though and it was projected to pour rain all weekend. So instead of staying, we drove back and took an incredibly long time to do so. I was so very bored, had serious neck pain that lead to a migraine and was just altogether miserable. I’m sad to admit that this trip emotionally broke me for about the next week or two. Thankfully though, I bounced back.

(one of the detours we took on the way back; famous for a thai soap opera that’s filmed there)

I made it my initiative to not be miserable but I had to figure out how to do this. For me, the solution was my family and friends. I set a daily reminder on my phone to call someone, anyone. This way I could escape my semi-lonely life for a bit each day and remind myself of all the people out there that I love.

(calling these crazy fools always makes me feel better)

(I also decorated my room with photos from home and heart warming notes from my fellows TESS PCVs)

I also was fortunate enough to take two trips with friends in this past month: one to Bangkok and one to Chiang Mai. Both immensely helped my spirits and allowed me to be a “stupid farang” (foreigner) for a weekend. So thank you to my lovely PCVs that I got to see and all the people I have called and those that are on my list to call (yes, I actually made a list 😂)! I also will take calls from anyone, so please don’t be afraid to reach out!

(6 of us in a tiny tuk-tuk in Bangkok)

School has now started so I feel like I have a purpose in my life again; seeing the children truly brightens my day! I have also discovered some great biking near me that allows me to escape to the beautifully lush mountains. So I’m doing what I can to enjoy my front row seat on this roller coaster ride that is my Peace Corps service!

(my school’s morning assembly that is held everyday featuring the mountains I escape to by bike)

On the Road Again 🎶

I’m starting to sense a theme with my posts; the need to start with “I’m sorry it’s been so long since I last wrote” 😳. This time I was telling myself it was because I was busy and tired, but after talking to my friend, Clark, I realized it’s become a daunting task to express my life here to people back home. It’s just so incredibly draining to have to try and keep people updated on our lives when everything we’re doing/everything that effects us requires a back story (either on culture or context). I’m sorry I let that effect me in a manner that led me to “living in the dark” as far as social media is aware, but now I will try my best to sum up the past few weeks (maybe a month?) since I last posted!

First off, we wrapped up our pre-service training (PST) with some last technical and language sessions, a language exam, an individual review to deem us fit for service and a trip to the Peace Corps office in Bangkok. The trip to Bangkok was a great release that helped us feel like adults again (during PST we basically became middle schoolers: unable to drive and a curfew of sundown). Coming back after the trip, was actually the hardest part of my service thus far. It was something we had looked forward to for 8 weeks and once it was over I felt rather purposeless for a week. Don’t worry, I bounced back! (some of my amazing friends and I on our way to get the most expensive Mexican food we’ve ever had. But it was our only option and we needed it after having Tijuana Flats withdrawals for 2 months!)

Week 10 of PST was where the real magic happened. We finally found out where we’d be living for the next 2 years! Although my site itself was exciting, I was devastated because a lot of my closest friends here were placed as far away as possible (about a 30 hour drive). So we spent that last week all sorts of sentimental and touchy feely; which for those of you that know me, know that is entirely out of character for me! 😂

(my “posy” that was placed far far away from me)

We then began our last few days together which were jammed pack of things to do, people to see and too many emotions to have! First, I had to say goodbye to my host family of two months which was incredibly difficult. These lovely women opened up their home for me and made me feel like family, I am so incredibly grateful for them! Unfortunately, on my way out the dog I had lived with there (and mislead me to believe we were friends) thought I was hurting my host grandmother as I said goodbye and bit me. Thus leading to my goodbye being shortened and going straight to the hospital to get a rabies shot (and again a few days later). I was most upset by this because it meant I couldn’t swim laps in the hotel which I had been looking forward to :/ (warning nasty picture below, not for the faint of heart) (my host mom and I on our last night together wearing the shirts she got us)

After we left our homes in Don Chedi, we spent 3 days in the same hotel in Suphanburi we started in at the beginning of PST. This is where we were sworn in as official Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) and met our counterparts for the next two years! (ask us how we feel about being official volunteers)

Although we were all excited to meet our future co-workers, we were most concerned with saying goodbye to the 67 amazing friends we had made the past 10 weeks. I spent all my nights there staying up until midnight or later just talking and bonding with these incredible friends one last time (this is major because I had become a grandma that went to bed at 9pm during training). Then it was finally the time to say goodbye. We spent an emotional 20 minutes standing in a hallway getting in a goodbye with 67 people; I don’t think I’ve ever felt so many emotions in such a little time!

(Peace Corps Thailand group 130 as official PCVs! 🙌)

I then embarked on a 13 hour road trip to get to my site, thankfully I was accompanied by 2 other volunteers to make the transition easier! We went our separate ways shortly after passing through the city of Chiang Rai, and I officially became the only American on this journey of mine 😱

(the 2 other volunteers that are placed in my region that I road tripped with)

I have since moved in with my new, incredibly kind host family here in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Thailand! In Thailand the schools are on their equivalent of summer break so I don’t start work until May. Right now my sole purpose is to integrate into the community. My host family is helping me with that by taking me all over the community (there’s so many tourist destinations here to see). (we hiked up at least 300 stairs to get to a cave with Buddha statues in it that we prayed at while simultaneously avoiding a massive amount of monkeys)

They also brought me to the one Wat (temple) in my village and, without warning, had me introduce myself to all those in attendance… in Thai after just being introduced by a monk who said all that I could about myself!

(me stumbling through my speech)(my host mom and I, yes we are matching, plus some community leaders and a monk. I think we had to kneel because we are women and there’s a lot of rules with monks that I am still learning.)

But I’m incredibly happy here and looking forward to living in Mae Sai these next 2 years. So come visit!!

(part of my new host family plus my Paw Aw (school director, in purple) and co-teacher (in pink))

PSA check out facebook for more photos!

Is this the real life? Is it just fantasy?

Sometimes I just randomly have the realization that “oh yeah, I’m living in Thailand”! It’s always a cool feeling but it still is an incredibly hard idea for me to grasp sometimes. I feel very lucky to be here and having these experiences everyday even though I’m missing my family and friends back home (Happy belated birthday, mom)!

These past few weeks have been full of sooo many experiences and I’m sorry for waiting so long to share them but I’m busy living my life here! 😝

I finally was allowed to teach a class these past two weeks and I learned so much about myself as well as my teaching capabilities. The first 2 days were so incredibly hard; they were draining, and made me doubt myself some. The class I was given for this practicum was 1st and 2nd graders who do not really know any English yet. This proved difficult when I tried to get them to play games because I couldn’t get them to understand the directions. Which is what got me down because all I could do with these kids the first 2 days was have them repeat what I say (the parrot phase of English). But eventually I just started to make them do these activities and although it was incredibly rough around the edges, I could tell with more time and the Thai counterpart(s) I’ll have at site, I would be able to do it successfully. Thankfully, it did get better every day I was there and I’m so incredibly thankful to have had the lowest level of kids to prepare me for anything I will see at site!

(group hug on our last day)(my class alongside my peace corps co-teacher Monique and the class teacher whose son is a famous pop star here)(I was lucky enough to have 26 valentines this year!)

Although practicum was an INCREDIBLY rewarding experience, I am very thankful for it to be over. It was an exhausting 2 weeks, but now I have a chance to go back to the drawing board before I actually begin teaching at site in a month.

The two Saturday activities we have had since my last post have been my favorite ones yet! Last Saturday (February 10), we had Thai day. In which our Aajaan’s (professors) showed us a lot about Thai culture in terms of song, dance and food mostly. They wrote us this INCREDIBLE song that brought most of us to tears it was so touching (I can’t post videos here but I’ll upload a video of this on facebook when I post this link). We also just ended up in a giant dance party in the end which was super fun and a great bonding experience as always!

(this is traditional Thai dress for the central region we are in)

After Thai day concluded, a group of us were walking around and got pulled into a celebration for a man becoming a monk the next day. This celebration consisted of dancing around the monument in our town several times (don’t ask me why because I have no clue, it’s just what you do). I also attended a party for a man becoming a monk later on (it looked more like a carnival).

(as you can tell from the cameras on us, we’re still a site to see here)

Yesterday (February 17), we had Thai-American sports day. Which as you all know I love sports, hence why I have swam all my life! We started off with a cheer section in which my team tweaked one of our old Bolles cheers (All the dogs in the house? HOO HOO HOO). Then we learned 2 new Thai sports: 1). Was kind of like hacky-sack but with a group of people in a circle and a miniature soccer ball of sorts. 2). The other was called chair ball and was similar to basketball but the hoop was someone standing on a chair holding a basket in the air. We also got to teach our Aajaan’s an American sport and we choose Kickball. I think they enjoyed despite being incredibly confused! My team wasn’t the most athletic, but we had so much fun and ended up tied for 3rd (out of 6) after the incredibly strange relay at the end (it had an eating component where one person was fed by a blindfolded team mate, a 3 leg race, digging for a coin in a pile of corn starch with your face, chopstick passing of a ping pong, and beating a box blindfolded).

After yesterday’s events concluded, I went with a group of volunteers to a pool. It may have been a 40 minute bike ride each way and costed 80 baht (~$2.50) but it was worth it! As you all know I was basically born in the water, so not seeing any this past month was incredibly strange but soooo relieving to finally find a pool!

(another time we were asked to have our photo taken by Thai people)

Also I helped a friend (Alexis Baker) of mine make a blog about our feelings here via the form of popular songs. So take a look!

Farang gin farang!

*disclaimer the title means “foreigner eats guava” and my host mom loves saying it as a joke to everyone*

Where to even start!? Since my last post A LOT has happened!

We met our Don Chedi host families in this beautiful ceremony, in which they gave us a traditional Thai welcome involving them tying strings around our wrists while saying warm greetings to us (that we didn’t understand). Then began the awkward part where we all went our separate ways and had to move into a stranger’s home. Thankfully, my “meh” (host mom) is an English school teacher in the area so we were able to get to know each other quicker than most!

(Monique and I meeting our mehs and sitting to take part in the ceremony)(Phil’s meh was my meh’s primary school teacher back in the day. A lot of this city is connected in some way!)

My host family for the next 2 months consists of my host meh, yi (grandma) and 2 dogs. The first few days were full of awkwardness involving figuring out how this family functions and what I can/can’t do in their home. Now, I feel like I know my place and like I’m a part of the family (the black sheep of the family, but still family)! My meh is super sassy, so we get along great and my yi doesn’t say much but always smiles and laughs at me when I try to speak Thai! My meh also knows EVERYONE in this city. Anywhere we go she’s talking to her friends, cousins or students and getting us things for free or into places others can’t.

I’m VERY thankful to these two for opening up their home to me, and helping me to integrate into the culture!

(my meh gave me these our first night together)

(my gorgeous and huge home for the next 2 months)

My first Saturday in Don Chedi, my meh took me with her to her volunteer work. She teaches on Saturdays at a different school than her own because they don’t have an English teacher. I was very proud to learn that she does this and had a great time going with her and helping teach my first English class! (every school I’ve seen here has a garden)

In this time, I have also been further advancing my Thai skills to the point I can now say hello, talk about food, sports, family, places, numbers and say I only speak a little Thai (key part of my vocabulary).

I’ve also greatly enjoyed being “Thai napped” (aka forced to go to some place unknown by a Thai person) by my mom and usually ending up at another volunteers house. This has now happened about 4 times, and I’ve been so great full that my mom does this for me. I also have been treated so nicely by all of the host families I’ve met that it really makes me feel confident that no matter where I’m placed in 2 months, it’ll be with a great family! (tonight I ended up at Tatiana’s (far right) house where Maisy was also brought to….along with the whole neighborhood)

The whole time we’ve been living in Don Chedi there’s been a festival going on that draws people in from all over central Thailand. It’s a 2 week long festival to celebrate Thailand defeating the king of Myanmar here in the 1500s. There’s this 2 hour long play that I saw that probablly informed me all about the situation; buuuut it was in Thai and the only words I could make out were numbers and older brother. But it’s been a great place to buy Thai clothing and food so we often find ourselves hanging out there!

(the end of the show, I think the fireworks mean Thailand won)

This past week was super fun because we visited the schools/classrooms where we’ll be doing our teaching practicum! I’ll be teaching a combined class of 1st and 2nd graders English at Wat Ban Rosbatrumbarung (try saying that 10 times fast, or at all). When I went to visit, the 2nd graders were super well behaved and their teacher showed me some of their English projects and I could tell they’ve learned a lot. Then I visited the 1st graders who don’t really have their own teacher right now (they’re getting one in a month), and they were seriously chaotic and knew very little English. So it’ll definietly be a challenge to have these two classes combined, but I look forward to figuring it out! (me going over a book with animals in it with the adorable 1st graders. Can anyone tell which animal I’m trying to teach them?)

Yesterday (Saturday 27th), with our 4 person language groups we biked to see each other’s houses and got to meet each other’s host families. This was super cool, because not only are we all pretty spread out were also in very different homes. My home is off a main road and is surrounded by farmland. Where as everyone else is far off the main road, 1 lives on a fish farm and another lives in a cement factory. All of the families were very sweet and showed us “Namjai” (literal translation is “water from the heart” but is Thailand’s version of southern hospitality)! (My language group and our amazing teacher, Aajaan Pisut)

There are sooo many other places I’ve seen, people I’ve met (shot out to the amazing current volunteers who have come to help train us), and fun experiences I’ve had! But to sum it all up, these past few days have made me realize that it’s not always going to be sunshine and rainbows. But I have learned that though there are hard, awkward moments, Thailand is called “the Land of the Smiles” for a reason. The people of Thailand make sure we feel welcomed: everyone I meet smiles, nods and then gasps when I say hi in Thai (Sawadii-ka). They love us farangs (foreigners and guava), and they’ll help me integrate and succeed the best they can!

(lovely ~5ft long, carnivorous neighbor I met tonight)

(met my meh’s sister while having dinner with my another host fam)

(cute cafe with pets my meh took me to)

some additional pictures from bike day:(this is a Wat (Buddhist temple))(one of the volunteers in my group has 5 sweet cats and I’m super jealous)

Oh, here it goes!


So I know I’m a little late to the game with this first post, but I have 27 months to get better at this! I left my home the morning of January 4th for Los Angeles to meet up with 72 other peace corps Thailand volunteers. When I arrived at LAX, I had to change in the airport bathroom into business casual clothing because I was one of the later ones to arrive. However, this is where I met my first fellow PCV who was also changing in the bathroom! 🤗  We shared a ride to the hotel where we {awkwardly} walked into a group of about 20 volunteers sitting in the lobby. Of the course of the rest of the day we had staging which consisted of mentally prepping us for certain things as well as ice breakers to get to know each other. I could tell early on that this was an incredible group of people who were going to make this transition so much easier!!

The morning of January 5th we were on our way to Thailand together! This consisted of about 30 hours of traveling that drained us all, but it was totally worth to step off the plane and be greeted with lays and warm welcomes! We got into our hotel in Suphanburi at 6am and began training later that day at 1pm; and haven’t stopped since. Needless to say, those first few days were rough because of the jet lag. Thankfully the second day though they gave us a welcome karaoke party where I found out 50% of the people here have AMAZING musical talent. I have since heard a bunch of them play guitar beautifully and others display other talents with their writings and various other forms of expression.

Over the course of these 10 days of training and living with my fellow volunteers in a hotel, I have learned a lot of valuable skills to help me with the next two years (including a good amount of Thai) and made 72 new friends! I have also eaten a bunch of Thai food (shocking, I know) from both resturants and street vendors for incredibly cheap prices! A meal here on average is anywhere from $1 to $5, although their portions are much smaller than in the US it’s still an amazing deal.

The past few days have been particularly eventful. On Sunday (Jan 14), we went to the city of Don Chedi and got trained on the bikes they gave us! Then today we had the honor of meeting with the Vice Governor of the Providence were currently in, and had to introduce ourselves in Thai (my name is Ali, my last name is Talwar, and I come from the city of Jacksonville, the state of Florida and the country of America)!

Tomorrow (Jan 17), we move in with our host families (in Don Chedi) who we’ll be staying with for the remaining two and a half months of Pre-Service Training (PST). I am both really excited and a little nervous to meet my host family at the same time! But I am quite confident that people willing to host us will be genuinely kind individuals.

Overall, Thai people have greeted us with warm smiles and hellos while also staring at us for being very obviously not from here! Which was really interesting to me because in America we’re so used to people of different ethnic backgrounds that we wouldn’t even be able to tell the foreigners apart but here we stick out like sore thumbs. Which is why as a PCV they say we’re on 24/7 and living in a fishbowl (constantly being watched). It’s actually quite a cool experience because you feel like a celebrity and they’re always shocked when we speak Thai to them and tend to even applaud it!

So far I’m loving this experience and am ready for what’s next! I miss all my family and friends back home and can’t wait till y’all come to visit! ❤️