Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Where Did the Time Go?

A Life Changing, Eye Opening, and Culturally Amazing Experience: Looking Back on This Journey

The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step - Lao Tzu

After being away for about three and a half months, I can say that deciding to study abroad in Thailand has been one of the best academic decisions I have ever made! Alongside being an amazing academic experience, it has also been an extremely rewarding personal journey.
At the beginning of this journey abroad, I was terrified to be away from home because I haven't left home in such a long time. However, like Lao Tzu stated "the journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step" and some times that single step is in an application to go abroad and from there it follows its own path....

While studying in Thailand, I stayed at the Chaiyapruk International House and it was really nice, in a gated community with a great atmosphere, and the area is clean as well. The house keepers are Panee and Thongda. They are extremely sweet and always willing to help, they make the stay there a bit more cozy and it gives it the sense of a home. Their English is very minimal, but with a translator, hand motions, or assistance from the English speaking Thai students, communication becomes a very tiny barrier. Same goes with the three guards that rotate shifts at the house. Very kind individuals and always willing to help you in any way possible as well. 

Chicken Long Rice

Spam Musubi
Within the house, the other students and I started a weekly tradition where a set of students from different areas would cook dinner for the whole house. This weekly dinner occurred every Tuesday night and boy it is not easy cooking for 30+ people when you are in foreign country and all the ingredient are in Thai or non-existent in the area, but thankfully we found SPAM!! So what we made for dinner was: chicken long rice, spam musubi, rice, and a macadmia nut, with pineapple mango juice. It was a success!!

"Okay, 1,2,3 Shaka!" "What's a shaka?" 
Hawaii dinner made by yours truly: Team Hawaii 
The group of students living in the house were so amazing!!! At the end of the term, we were all so close, it was hard to leave. As you can tell from our family photos!

Chaiyapruk Village International House, Term 2, 2015-2016

MY GRANDMA! Who I've met for the first time <33

Another thing to add in the books of Thailand memories was meeting my grandmother for the first time! It was such an emotional day filled with so many tears. You really do not know when the best days of your life will occur, but when they do, you'll know because it will be a moment so great that no amount of words will be able to describe exactly how you felt in that moment. 
After 20 long years, I was finally able to meet my Thai grandmother for the FIRST time! It was so amazing! Her spirit is enlightening, her personality is great, and she is so loving and kind. There are no exact words to express how I felt, but the tears come close enough. Getting to know here and being able to see where my dad grew up was so special, because once you get to know your roots, you learn a bit more about yourself as well. Though, the time with her was short, I plan on visiting her again in 2 years.

Ayutthaya stop. I'm the ant in the center.

A little glance of the many adventure you can go on. The Ayutthaya adventure is definitely one to go on, there are nine different destination you can visit- so plan to dedicate at least half a day or a whole day to really explore the areas and intake as much information and culture that you can. Everything about it is AMAZING! From the sights to the history, every inch of the area is something new and worth analyzing. The boat tour was also great! You get to see the old city that is literally along or on the river and what the houses are like in that area. It is really an eye opening experience, because while at school you don't really see anything that has not really been reconstructed, so it was very refreshing to see what life is like away from the big malls and the busy streets.

Veronica (America), Patrick (Germany), Jonas (Germany), and I with our street food.

A day at Jatuchak (Chatuchak) weekend market at Mo Chit BTS station.

This market is a must-go-to destination. You can get all your souvenirs and locally made items here. The sell almost everything you would have in mind. Though it is hot during the day, there is also a night option called "JJ Green" and it is just a few blocks from this market.
At the end of this trip, I can wholeheartedly say that the experience abroad has been more than amazing and I have learned so much from the short amount of time I was away. The culture took some time to get used to, but with an open mind and a bit of curiosity, you will learn a lot in just a single conversation with anyone you meet! The fear that I had when I first arrived, was gone within a month and the experience that I've undergone will change me forever. They say that studying abroad is one of the best things you can do while in college and I can attest to that statement because the friends you make are from all over the world, what you learn takes place in many areas outside of the classroom, and your cultural awareness grows immensely. There are no words to really describe what this experience was like. It is one of those, you had to be there type of things. In simple terms, it was amazing and I would not regret it at all!  

I WILL BE BACK THAILAND! Till next time, kop khun ka for a great experience!

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