I cannot begin to try and count the number of times I have told people to study abroad if they can at all swing it in their college career. And I’ve been home from Thailand about ten days. I was extremely apprehensive going into my study abroad experience in Thailand. To the point where I almost decided not to commit to it in the months leading up to it. I knew no one going or even applying, it is half way across the world and a place I never dreamed of traveling to. However, after a little soul searching, a couple long talks with my parents and a realization of the possible benefits, I decided to go. I will never regret my decision to go. It was by far one of the best experiences of my life. I made fifteen new friends, had experiences that changed me as a person and made memories that will never be forgotten.
Instead of me lecturing away for pages, here is a list of advice for studying abroad in Thailand:
1. Forget your comfort zone, forget your shyness, forget everything holding you back and GO!
2. Pack light. Laundry facilities are easily accessible and sickeningly cheap. ($3 max to wash, dry and fold a large pile of clothes)
3. You will have to wash your own underwear. This is not enjoyable or extremely sanitary so bring as many pair as possible or good laundry soap.
3. Bring snacks. Plane food is gross and a protein bar hits the spot better than chips.
4. Remember everyone in the group is in the same position so get to know them as soon as possible. You will be spending a great deal of time with them through the next weeks.
5. Keep an open mind. At some point you will become home sick and it will be difficult to be accepting of culture. I challenge you to try harder during these times.
6. It isn’t one big honey moon. Remember everything is part of the experience so find joy in it all.
7. You will feel uncomfortable at times. You will be crabby at times. Odds are others will feel the same way but don’t let these emotions get the best of you.
8. Chang and Singha are good. Too much Chang the night before a full day of lecture is not good.
9. Read the materials prior to going. It gives great insight and the stories are relevant.
10. Go and do. Experience the culture. Dance. Laugh. Buy. Look. Listen. Feel. Learn.
11. The food is wonderful. You will like it, but you will get sick of it at some point. American food is relatively easy to find.
12. Learn a few word a of Thai. Language is a bit of an issue but if you can say ten Thai words before going, you will be ahead of the curve.
13. Always carry cash and very few valuables.
14. Have a good camera, not just your phone. Don’t sacrifice taking in the sights for getting a good picture. You can easily miss what is right in front of your eyes.
15. Adjusting to life back home is much more difficult than adjusting in Thailand.
16. Accept that friends and family will not fully understand the stories and scenery you portray to them.
17. Enjoy the amazing experience you are lucky enough to have. Soak it all up.