As I pulled into the driveway at the Wat Temple in Elk River, I was filled with mixed emotions. I was excited to be one step closer to leaving for Thailand and to experience a different culture on that beautiful Saturday, but quite honestly I was nervous. I was nervous I would offend someone while I was there. I was nervous I would do or say the “wrong” thing.
I slipped off my shoes before entering the door and I felt welcome as soon I entered the temple. The inside was cozy and everyone smiled at me as I walked up the stairs. The abbot monk was sitting on a raised platform, crossed legged with a slight smile. I sat on the floor on a cushion, took a deep breath, and allowed myself to soak in the new experiences of the day.
The day came and went very fast. I left the Wat Temple slightly overwhelmed, but in the best way possible. The itinerary for our trip was perfect, the food they so graciously fed us was amazing, and I got a little taste of Thai culture. I left the temple feeling more prepared for trip to Thailand that is very quickly approaching. I now understood how to properly greet someone in Thailand and I (sort of!) learned how to introduce myself in the Thai language. I couldn’t help but smile as I got in my car because I knew how amazing my three weeks in Thailand would be.
I have many learning goals for this study abroad experience, but my main goal is to go into this trip with few expectations and absorb as much information as I can. Of course everyone, including myself, has certain ideas or visions when they think of Thailand and what it’s like to travel there. However, my goal is to rid myself of those expectations in order to truly immerse myself in the culture. In other words, I guess I want to lose a sense of myself while in Thailand so I can allow my experiences to shape me into more of a global citizen. This is hard to do, but I believe it is absolutely vital if I want to get the most out of this experience.