I was nervous before we went to the Wat Temple last month. I remember I left over an hour early because I was scared I would get lost or be late and I wanted to make the best impression possible. I also didn’t know what was appropriate to wear and the last thing I wanted to do was offend anyone. Sometimes I forget that everyone else probably has the same thing going through their minds. To be honest I was a little uncomfortable when I got there. I didn’t really know how I should sit or how I needed to address the abbot monk at the front of the room. Thankfully Acharn Cathy showed us how to introduce ourselves by putting our hands together in front of our mouths and noses and bowing our heads slightly. We learned later from the abbot monk how the placement of the hands is very important. The lower the placement, the less formal the greeting. I found it fascinating that just the placement of my hands signals respect for a person. It’s something so simple and subtle, but its things like this that help me understand the Thai culture. I also learned how to properly sit in a temple. I remember after we were told to sit with both legs to one side staggered I immediately switched to that instead of being cross-legged. I also found it interesting that a woman can’t sit close to the abbot monk. I’m interested to see how gender might impact certain things in Thailand. I have a tendency to forget that not every culture treats genders the same way.
One goal I have for myself while abroad is to try everything at least once. I’m a picky eater and I have to say being in a culture with very different food than I’m used to makes me nervous. I really want to stick with the mantra “don’t knock it till you try it” because it would be a shame to miss out on any experience while I’m in Thailand. I think food is a big part of this. In my mind, food is an important part of any culture. I’ve had Thai food here in the U.S. but I’m smart enough to know that the Americanized version is probably very different than authentic Thai food in Thailand. I think this goal can go beyond food as well. We are going to be doing a lot of different activities that involve doing a lot of different things. I just want to go in with an open, positive state of mind. No one in my family has ever been to Asia and this is a learning opportunity that I can share with them.
Here are pictures of me with my dog Sydney and with my brother Jacob.