Advice to Future Students
Being back in Minnesota for a month has really given me time to reflect on my time in Thailand. Almost every day since being home I think about the trip in some way. Time flew by unbelievably fast while I was there. I would advise future students to do your best to keep a journal to really remember your time there. However, I also think that there is a fine balance between documenting the trip and enjoying yourself in the moment while in Thailand. Take a chance to interact with other people in the group that you normally wouldn’t. You will find that being in a foreign country allows people to let their guard down, making meeting new people a lot easier.
I took every chance that was offered to participate in the optional activities, and never regretted it. Although there was a lot of moving around from event to event, the excitement of it all kept me going and left me with a unique experience each and every time.
You won’t need a lot of spending money while in Thailand unless you plan on making large purchases. I spent around $500 USD while in country, that includes food, optional activity costs and a few small souvenirs. You will see a lot of the same items at many of the stands in the night markets, try to find the cheapest option. Negotiate prices, but don’t over do it. Many items are already priced significantly cheaper than you could ever find in the U.S. and trying to get items for pennies on the dollar is unnecessary. Don’t buy more than you can fit in your suitcase, many small items are easier to pack away than a few large ones.
Street food is cheap and the majority of stands serve tasty and sanitary meals, don’t be scared off by the basic look of the stands. Locals will assume that you cannot handle any level of spice in your food, but I found a lot of the spicy food very good. Don’t be afraid to try new things, you may have a few strange experiences but they make for good memories of the trip.
Pack light. Nobody will judge you for wearing the same shirt or pants multiple times on the trip. Bring bug spray and some anti-itch cream. Bring lightweight pants and one good jacket. Be prepared to wash your clothes in your sink/shower at least once during the trip. I used a tablet while in Thailand and found that it worked very well for what I needed to do on the trip. A laptop would work as well but the smaller the better, you will not need a lot of computing power.
This trip completely changed my perspective of Southeast Asia and the rest of the world as a whole. We as people are so much more alike than we are different, regardless of the language we speak or where on the earth we live. I have a newfound love for travel and aspire to visit new places all over the world.