For the past three weeks, this experience of studying abroad in Thailand has been life changing. As a first-time traveler abroad, I really didn’t know what to expect except to keep an open mind as much as possible. From riding in a plane for 16 hours to reconnecting with my roots and being educated on Buddhism, the amount of knowledge and wisdom I have learned and gained has impacted me immensely. Every day has taught me something new and has opened up my eyes to really see the world. I still think of how lucky I am to be able to have gotten the chance to study abroad and experience what life is like outside of my own. The friendships I have made and amazing peers I have met throughout this experience has really made this trip worthwhile aside from being immersed into the beautiful culture of Thailand. I hope that in many years down the road from now we will all be able to look back on this opportunity and smile with joy from the unforgettable memories we have made.
While this experience has been life changing, as a foreign student studying abroad in Thailand, there have been many realizations I have struggled with. Like I said, since I have never traveled abroad before, I didn’t really know what to expect at all. I grew up living a comfortable life, one that I was used to; however, this experience in a foreign country has really made me step outside of my comfort zone and challenge me. It has also allowed me to be vulnerable without feeling weak and brittle – a different kind of vulnerability. From realizing that in Thailand not all children have access to a good, quality education, how not everyone has access to clean water, the lack of resources for the poor and uneducated, how human trafficking is a real issue this country faces, and the amount of pollution there is from the poor sewage system has all played a major role and affected the culture shock I experienced here. All these realizations have made me come to see the amount of privilege I have as an American, and that too, is something I most struggle with as well. From observing how hard the people of Thailand work to earn a living to learning how little they earn in a day has made me be more appreciative as a foreigner. This experience has taught me to be humble and learn to put aside my privilege, especially during all those times while squatting in the bathroom.