Blog #1 – Liz Schroeder

Hello! My name is Liz Schroeder and I am a senior majoring in Sociology with an emphasis on Health Care and Careers and a minor in Public Health. I am looking forward to  experiencing the Thai culture! I have previously been to Costa Rica and Ghana, West Africa, but this is my first trip to Asia and I think it will be a really new environment for me.

During this trip I really want to learn more about the public health issues that the Thai people experience. I hope to grow in my ability to be empathetic towards the people I meet and to also be more understanding of the challenges that they are facing. I am very curious about the human trafficking problems that Thailand has and I want to be able to see first hand how it impacts the lives of those that are affected by the industry. My Christian faith is also really important to me so I am curious to learn about Buddhism. I am really looking forward to seeing the monks and the temples that are so important in the Buddhist culture. I am focused on approaching the situation with an open mind and I am really hoping to learn a lot about Buddhist’s beliefs and practices.

Pre-Departure Thoughts

To introduce myself, my name is Marissa Paananen and I just graduated from the University of Minnesota with a double major in Family Social Science, Sociology of Law, Criminology, and Deviance, and a minor in Spanish. It’s a mouthful, I know. Some of my hobbies are swimming, watching movies, hanging out with friends and, you guessed it, traveling!

As I am minutes away from going to the airport, my nerves are beginning to kick in. Will I make it to my flight on time? Am I forgetting something? How will I communicate with people when I get there? I have been to other Spanish speaking countries before where I am able to ask questions, but I have never been somewhere entirely foreign to me. While this is somewhat nerve-racking, I think it is also exhilarating!

I envision so many new experiences, environments, and interactions and I just cannot wait! I wonder if it will actually be as hot as they say or if the beaches will be as beautiful as the pictures. Well.. I guess you’ll just have to wait and see how my journey and first impressions go in my next blog! Sorry to leave you at a cliff-hanger 🙂


Blog #1 – Anna Borromeo

Hi there! My name is Anna Borromeo, and I am a rising senior. I am studying economics with a minor in global studies, focusing on human rights and justice and East Asia. I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, but my family originates from the Philippines. In Asia, I have traveled to both the Philippines and Taiwan, but this will be my first time in Thailand, and I am beyond excited! 

The two most important aspects of my life are faith and family, and I am eager to evaluate my life in comparison to the Thai lifestyles. As my identity revolves around Christianity, I would like to learn more about the centrality of Buddhism in Thailand. Also, as family is very important to me, I am curious to know about the role and importance of family in Thailand. A learning goal that I have for this trip would be to better understand the social justice issues in Thailand and how non-governmental organizations and community members address these issues. I plan to fully immerse myself in the Thai culture with an open mind and eyes of curiosity in order to better understand the various influences on Thailand. I hope to learn more about myself, the ways of life in Thailand, and comprehensively, the beauty and complexity of the world.

Below is a picture of me (left) with my sister (right)!

Blog #1: Introduction – Deeh Chah

Hello! My name is Deeh — it means watermelon or cucumber in Hmong. I am the second oldest child of six, and I am the first to attend a four-year college. I am a third year studying Elementary Education Foundation. I was born in a refugee camp in Thailand; my family came to Saint Paul, Minnesota in2004. I miss the camp I was born in very much! It was a temple and still is a temple today.

I hope to teach in Hmong villages after college. Therefore, I am excited to learn about the education system in Thailand – especially in the Hmong villages that we will visit. I hope to learn how the teachers teach, how the students learn, how the families are connected with the school and their children’s learning, and more! Ultimately, I hope to make connections and build networks so that my goal of teaching in Thailand after college is achievable.

Blog #1 Mai Chia Lee

Hello, My name is Mai Chia Lee and I am a senior at the University of Minnesota Twin-Cities and I am an Elementary Education Major. As a Hmong woman living in the United State, I see myself as a Hmong American. I merge two culture together and meet both in the middle so that I will not lose my native culture but at the same time able to emerge myself in a different culture.

Often time many people don’t know what Hmong is and where they come from. Many times people mistook me as another ethnicity for example Chinese. But when I told them I am Hmong they looked confused. I have to explain in short of who Hmong people are and where they came from, to learn someone it takes time so I only give them a brief introduction of who Hmong is.

I moved from Thailand to the United States in 2004, and it was when I have to learn who I am and who I want to be as I grow older clash between two culture. But as I grow older I see the beauty in my own culture, how the shaman would guide the spirit home when someone is unwell. How the language I did not pay much attention to can be so beautiful like a poem. I listen to my parent’s story of their life and I found myself captivate more and more to my own culture that I didn’t pay much attention to when I was younger.

In this Journey, I want to experience more culture and look deeper to find more about myself. I am looking forward to learning more about other cultures and ready to merge as one with every culture. But most of all I want to find myself and learn more about myself.

blog post # 1

Hello there, everyone! My name is Bridget Glass and yesterday I graduated from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in the College of Education and Human Development. I majored in Family Social Science and am hoping to pursue an advanced degree in graduate school out west for Couple, Marriage, and Family Therapy within the next couple of years.

While in school for the past three years, I have worked at Fraser, a nonprofit organization based in the Twin Cities that provides various mental health and developmental disability services to children and adults with special needs. I am especially interested in interpersonal relationships, and truly love learning about other humans and cultures. Some of my strengths include woo, communication, empathy, adaptability and positivity.

One learning goal I have for myself in regards to this Learning Abroad seminar is centered around personal growth; I have found that I learn most about myself when I am put in unfamiliar situations because it forces me to maximize my strengths and whatever resources are readily available to accomplish or overcome anything that comes my way. I am more capable than I sometimes give myself credit for, so I am excited for the opportunity to grow with and as a result of the people and environment around me. 

Blog 1- Pre-departure Callie Sher

My name is Callie Sher and I am very excited to study abroad in Thailand in a couple of days from now! I am a senior at the U of M, majoring in Family Social Science. I wanted to study abroad in Thailand so that I could learn about a completely different culture from my own, and experience other parts of the world. Culture and religion are something very near and dear to my heart, so I am so excited to see how the Thai culture and Buddhism impact the lives of people in Thailand. I have been out of the country before, but only to places more familiar to me such as Israel. I am looking forward to be completely immersed into a culture so different than mine.  Featured below is a picture of me!

Blog Post #1- Toua Xiong

My name is Toua Xiong and I am a junior going to be a senior next year.  I’m majoring in Information Technology Infrastructure (ITI) and minoring in Computer Science.   One fun fact about me is that I was born in Thailand and moved here in 2004 like some of the students in this program.  I’m very excited to go back and experience all the things that I didn’t have the chance to experience as a kid.  One of my goal in this study abroad program is to learn more about the Thai culture and their language.

Blog Post #1 – Matthew Fuller

My name is Matthew Fuller and I am just finishing up my junior year. I am studying Biology while also minoring in Management. I love the outdoors and as of now my favorite place on Earth is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota. I am the youngest of 4 and have 3 older brothers. I owe them a lot of credit for shaping me into the person I am today. One learning goal I have for this program is to become more immersed in the Buddhism religion. I find religion fascinating and find myself wanting to learn more about something that I have little knowledge about. I am very excited to have conversations with the monks and to learn more about their way of life. Overall, I can’t wait for this trip and truly feel like it will be a trip of a lifetime!

This picture was taken last summer near Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, I was hiking San Pedro volcano!

Blog Post #1 – Ready for adventures!

My name is Molleysa. My name was given to me by my oldest sister. She created this name for me by taking a part of my mom’s, my dad’s and my grandma’s name. It is very special to me and it’s a completely unique name. I am a freshmen majoring in Biology. I hope to someday enter medical school and become a doctor. One of my learning goals for this Learning Abroad seminar is to learn about the cultural differences between Thailand and America. I have never studied abroad before, so I am really excited to dive in and experience a whole new world.