Category Archives: 2012 Thailand Learning Abroad Blog

Using What I Learned from Thailand by Ginny Anderson

I can’t believe a week ago today we were in Thailand and I felt too hot. Right about now I am missing not only that heat but also the memories we were making. My first full day back in the states took a bit of adjusting to. I started my first day at a full time job, and I was extremely jet lagged. That morning I drove back to Duluth, and I found myself in shock that the roads were so clear. Traffic was nothing compared to what we had seen in the last three weeks. When I got to work, I found out that day that I wouldn’t get to unpack my suit cases for long; I had to leave town for work the next morning at 7:30 for the rest of the week. Being exhausted and overwhelmed, I was not too enthused to be staying in a hotel for another week. I just wanted to get settled back into my life in the states and then let things take off. As the week has passed though, I have reminded myself of the things I learned in Thailand. From the Thai culture I have learned to be happy with where you are and what you have. Even though I am tired, I need to remind myself to keep a positive attitude and just SMILE. I could not be more happy with the position I accepted, and I am very fortunate to finally be working in my chosen career. In all reality, I have nothing to be complaining about, and Thailand has showed me that. I am so very blessed that I was able to experience Thailand and all of the adventures that our group embarked on together. Now that I am back in the states, I am on to my next adventure in auditing. I just want to thank you all for making my Thailand experience what it was, AMAZING!! I will never forget any of you! 🙂

Reverse Culture Shock and Jet Lag, but yet a Learning Experience

After being home for a couple of days, I am still adjusting in all areas. First off, I am so jet lagged. I cannot seem to get back on my normal sleep schedule. Now with school started and deadlines and due dates already approaching, being sleep deprived is affecting my productivity. In addition to school starting, as soon as I got back up to Duluth, I had to get out my planner and plan out my week and make a to do list. This is completely opposite from “Thai time” where I was simply just living in the moment. If I had a choice I would much rather live the Thai way, but I know with my busy schedule I would loose my mind.

Aside from school starting and being tired, I find myself having a little bit of reverse culture shock. Although three weeks isn’t a huge amount of time to be away, it was enough time to change my perspective and feel comfortable in a different culture. I am used to seeing many Thai people and having them look at me because I was the minority, and when I did see other Caucasian people it was almost automatic to want to ask them where they were from, because often times they were from the states or Europe. This was exciting as a foreigner. Now back home I see Caucasians and people may think I am crazy if I asked where they are from. And even though Thailand was busy, especially Bangkok, there was no attitude involved with the busyness. For example, in traffic there is road rage here that people in Thailand don’t have. It is going to take some time to adjust.

Most importantly, this was such a great learning experience in all areas. It simply became clearer to me that I love learning, and being a prospective teacher that is probably a good thing. I love learning about myself, what and who I value, what I believe, and what really makes me happy. Apart from growing within myself, I also love learning academically. I want to be a well-rounded person with knowledge in many areas. This trip was a great eye opener on my perspectives about life and who I am and want to be. I am grateful for the professors, new friends, and sister I got to spend this life-changing trip with. Thank you!


Although it is my wish for everyone to go on this trip and make memories and experiences of their own, I would like to share a little advice to make the trip just a little bit better than mine, but I am not sure if that is possible. 🙂

First and foremost, be open-minded and willing to learn and grow! This in my opinion is crucial. You will be pushed outside of your comfort zone to do, see, smell, taste, and feel things you have never done before. Be open to immerse yourself into the culture and take in the many things that Thailand has to offer. You can form and opinion of something after you have tried it and it can be either good or bad, but please try it first. When you are being pushed outside your levels, this is when the most learning and growing occurs. It will scary at first, but remember you may never be able to do something like this again so make the most of it while you are there. I am a true believer in that you get out of it what you put into it and this held true for my trip to Thailand. I was truly open and ready to learn and grow and that is why I believe I had such an amazing experience. Being open to step outside the box will make your time in Thailand even better and your experiences much more memorable.

Secondly, journal everyday. This may be difficult because the days get long and busy and at the end of the day you may be exhausted, but sooner you do it you will be able to remember exactly what you were thinking and feeling and get it down on paper. You will also not only be able to look back at it five years later and realize how great your experiences were, but you will also be able to look back at it a week later and the memories will stay fresh. Just in general it may be helpful to document everything. Make a quote book of the crazy things people in your group say or quotes that you hear in a lecture that really inspire you. You will truly appreciate it later.

There are many pieces of advice that could be said, but being willing to grow is what will truly make this trip uniquely yours!

Advice for Future Thailand Travelers

After reading my traveling counterparts submissions, it is difficult to think of original responses, but I will do my best! First of all, every person will take something different away from this experience which may be either good or bad. From my Thailand experience, you MUST keep an open mind! You have to be ready for just about anything and everything. Second, go with the flow and live in the moment. If you have a difficult time changing destinations or plans on the fly, you will most likely get frustrated. This trip has taught me so many things that I would have never learned in school and despite its harsh price tag, it is worth every dollar. I not only gained a deeper and broader perspective on life, but I made some long-lasting relationships that I am greatly appreciative of.

Before you leave for Thailand, be sure to explore the many dimensions of their cuisine. It will make for a little smoother transition into the trip, but fear not, you will find western style food establishments in larger cities such as Bangkok if it doesn’t work out. All in all, it is very important to take a little time out of the day and the places you had been to reflect. Reflect, reflect, reflect. If you don’t, you may miss out on how ideas and experiences made you feel. By placing an emotion or feeling to something you did, it will help you establish a long-lasting memory.

Well, that’s all I have for the next travelers. I hope you take away as much, if not more, from Thailand than I did and that you truly let it change you for the better. Until next time…

My Lost Blog–Blog #4

I wrote this blog in Bangkok but it failed to post here on blogger. Let’s try this again!

The lecture we attended at Bumrungrad International Hospital was one that affected me the most. I hope to have a career as a hospital administrator one day, and the material presented created excitement for my future. The entire concept of this hospital was quite intriguing as well; the overall environment felt more like a hotel than a hospital. The facility was very modern and had basically all the amenities of a hospital especially the patients rooms that closely resembled an apartment. I was also astonished to know how less expensive their health care is compared to ours in the United States. Some surgeries can cost one-fourth or one-eighth the price we pay domestically. Even the financial reporting aspect of Bumrungrad was impressive. They are reporting at an impressive margin, partially due to the amount of patients they receive paying out of pocket (cash, essentially). I also was surprised that they do little advertising and marketing to countries around the world in which they rely on patients telling other people about their experiences at Bumrungrad. Simply amazing, I can barely wrap my head around it. All in all, I really learned a number of things that I can take back to the US in hopes to make a small difference in a rather large problem we are facing.

Advice from Dave for the next group going on the Thailand course

It’s hard for me to write this. Everyone’s experience will be unique to them. It is up to the individual to make their experience. I’d only suggest that whenever someone travel he or she try to be as open to new things as possible. If things were the same as before, or if you’re hoping for them to be, there isn’t really a point to traveling at all. I believe one ought to make an effort to push one’s self outside their comfort zone. So, expect nothing but be ready for anything.

That being said, there are some things that will inevitably be the same with our trips. The lectures were all really interesting. If you have the time, the more research you can do to get an understanding of the Thai culture and healthcare system before hand the more you’ll get out of the lectures. Don’t be afraid to go out and do what you want on your own or with a few people. It’s too hard to go everywhere with a big group so the group will have to split up at some point – and that’s okay. Don’t expect people to speak English – it’s probably best if you assume they don’t speak any English. Write in your journal. It will help you remember the trip but it will also help you understand it as you go along – thinking critically is the essential part. You’re going to be tired so push through it – you’ll thank yourself later for doing so. In the end nothing is neither good nor bad, as those are human concepts we ourselves apply to things relatively. Those that get to go on the next trip ought to be excited and ought to be ready to experience new things. I’m fully confident, even if the specifics of the trip are different, that the trip will be well worth it and will be a great experience.

We’re safe – an update from the professors in Thailand

I know many parents and friends have been concerned since reading the email message issuing a safety alert for U.S. citizens from our embassy here in Thailand.  Upon receiving it, we contacted students and requested that they avoid the more touristy areas last night,  We were able to meet with most of them and discuss the situation last night.  We learned this morning that someone had been arrested.  We’ve not received any further warnings (it is now 5:30 p.m. Saturday)

We will continue to stay alert and monitor things carefully.  But for now, we believe things have been resolved.  If we can get Internet at the airport (3:30 a.m. Sunday morning here), I will post something then.  However, please know that it’s not always reliable so I may be unable to do so.  Your best bet is to monitor the flight at 

Please know we take student safety abroad very seriously.  Thank you for supporting their participation in this amazing learning experience… they are awesome individuals with unique strengths and gifts that have combined to create a great group!!!  It’s been a privilege to facilitate their learning here in Thailand.  Sawatdee, Ka!

Post by Ginny Anderson

Today is our last full day in Thailand. I have many bitter sweet feelings as we pack to leave this place; I feel like we just got here. In our time here, we have done so much and I have come to LOVE this country more than I would have ever expected. It is so different from anything that I have ever experienced, and I know it will be difficult to explain to those who have not traveled here before. If I could give any advice to future students traveling to Thailand though, I would stress three main things. Before coming, I think that it is important to get a feel for the Thai culture. Try Thai food, learn about religion and the health care system, and buy travel books. The second thing I would recommend is that you fully immerse yourself in your time here and distance yourself from your life in the United States. Although three weeks seems like enough to fully experience what you want, it goes by quick and it would be a shame to waste it wrapped up in things back in the states. Finally, I would recommend that students be open to new experiences. I feel as though I learned so much, because I opened up and tried things that I have never tried before. I am very happy that I chose to embark on this journey, and I know that I will carry the memories I have made here forever.

Letting our wishes fly-Chaing Rai

This was a day I had been anticipating for a while. We were going to be spending the entire day with students at the university. I had heard great things about his day in the past and couldn’t wait to meet the students. When we arrived they seems as eager as us, and i presume nervous like us as well. For them today was a day they would have to utilize their English speaking skills a lot due to all of us having around a 5 word vocabulary of Thai words. The students were great, friendly, talkative and very welcoming. When we loaded onto the bus we each took a seat and they were instructed to take a seat next to an American student. My new friends name was Nan, we chatted the whole tour and laughed about our humorous tour guide Gio(her fellow classmate/friend). Gio was a wonderful guide with lots of jokes and spoke fabulous English. We late had a tour around campus on the students motorbikes, I was so amused by the site a group of 20 bikes crusing campus. I laughed and thought to myself how I felt like I was in a biker gang.
As we toured the campus and walked around I recall the students saying they were tired, however to us it sounded like thied so we corrected them and they all laughed and said words like that would be easier with a native English speaker. Through out the day when they were working on their English they asked questions, they loved the help, and we didn’t mind. It was a great learning experience we were learning from each other.
As the day continued with our new friends, we all were laughing making jokes, taking pictures making strong new friendships. I loved the connection that was going on, and could feel that we had a different kind of relationship with our new friends. Coming from different cultures and speaking different languages but yet we were connecting with them and getting close.
The sun began to set, and the dinner and festivites that they had planned for us were being set up. It looked gorgeous, they were providing us with a native Thai dinner. There was so much food, and they gave us everything, and the students stood behind us making sure we tried it all. Candles were lit around us, we sat on the carpet outside beneath the moon and stars and enjoyed food which most of us had never tried. We sat talking with our friends, and they laughed as Casey C and I tried the food and they saw our facial expression reacting to the spice. The settingof the dinner was gorgeous, music was played, dances were performed and we later got to dance. They had us come ontothe stage stand in a circle as they showed us traditional dances, it was very humorous to them as we tried to adapt to the style of dance.
After dancing the lanterns were brought on stage. The lanterns are lit on fire, and you let them go into the night sky relieving you of stress and carrying your wish toward the night sky. As I looked around everyone looked so happy, and slowly the lanterns filled with smoke. Nan was my partner and we lit our lantern together, let it fill and we then made out wishes stood up to let it go and away it floated into the starry night sky. The scene was remarkable slowly the lanterns filled the sky and everyone watched as their wishes were carried away. I thought to myself how lucky I was to be here in this place, with all the wonderful people. Everyone was so kind, caring, fun; new friendships were made. The feeling I felt is unexplainable, I wish I could go back to that night, the feeling of tranquility and serenity and knowing that I was right where I was meant to be. I enjoyed that moment so very much, and thought about the amazing day I had, it was unbelievable. I was so happy to be in Chiang Rai and with the students, in fact I wish we had been there longer. I will never forget that night, and just like their professor said to us when he closed the ceremony “I hope you all have made new friendships, stay in touch and will never forget this night and think back on it through out your life”. That is exactly how I felt, and what I want to happen, I will never forget that night.

Cold world…. Poem and Reflection by Kiarra McCain

Cold world
Holding on to my blanket, I sit in the middle of the floor, hoping.
Hoping and waiting, praying that my fate looks better then my family
Praying with words that I can barely comprehend
I am 10 with 20 years of experience with pain
I was born with pain both internal and external
They told me my mom was a strong woman, and that my dad once was a hard worker
That if I’d had the chance to meet them, I would have loved them
They loved me
My father, a man of many talents and shooting opium being one of them, was said to be a strong and fearless man…it’s said that he was so discreet, so private that not even my mom knew he was an addict until she was forced to see
Between his addiction and her dependency on medications to save her life, I never had a chance
My dad got AIDS from shooting up with a dirty needle and my mom got AIDS from loving an addict, and I got AIDS from the unbreakable bond that takes place when a man and a woman love or pretend to love each other.
Cold world huh
Holding my blanket, I sit in the middle of the floor, hoping.
Hoping and waiting, praying that my fate looks better then my family but realizing that it’s only a matter of time before I finally meet my parents.


I wrote this poem after visiting the Opium Museum. I’d never heard of the hold that the drug had on so many people in Asia and how it affected so many lives. At the Museum, there were stories of kids whose lives were affected because of the drug and in my own words, I retold it. This particular story didn’t give such details but this is what I felt when I read it. The exhibit showed a young Thai boy holding a blanket and the writing said he was 10 years old and an orphan. His mom and dad had died because of AIDS and the mother got it from the dad’s addiction and he’d got it from shooting up opium with a dirty needle. While I understand that drugs affect many people in different ways, my soft spot has always been for kids. Here is a young boy with a future that doesn’t look so bright. No matter how hard he studies or how good he is at sports, his life will be shorter and less fulfilling than most boys his age and he never did the drug.

The Museum itself was set up really nice. There was some reading and a lot of storytelling and the walk through the Museum was done in a specific order. What I especially enjoyed was the reflection room that waits for every visitor at the end of the exhibit. It’s a bright space with beams that hold different sayings, but I really liked the design of the room. I’m sure this isn’t done on purpose, but the room wasn’t finished. If I could, I would tell the founder of the Museum to leave it that way. Before you walk out, the floors are undone and there are beams without sayings and for me that was especially powerful. It says that there is no clear answer and even after guided thought, everyone has to struggle with the hardship of drugs in their own way. Its shows the complexity of taking on such a topic. Had the path to the door been glossy and fancy, it wouldn’t have been real because reflections on such topics are never glossy or fancy, but messy and unfinished. This was one of my favorite days and one of the most inspiring writing moments.