Category Archives: 2017 Thailand Learning Abroad Blog

Blog Post #2 – Buddha’s Wisdom

Bangkok, the City of Angels, was the very first city I have seen since arriving to Thailand. I was unsure of how I felt at the time, because I was very excited that it was my first time traveling abroad. However, as the first day passed by in Bangkok, I was pretty bummed. I wanted Thailand to be more. It seemed like the landscape  and architecture was just another part of United States. Of course, the differences between Americans and Bangkok were there. The advertisement boards were full of the Thai language and the weather was really hot. Later on, after witnessing Chiang Mai, I felt way better. I was enthused by the beauty and nature that Chiang Mai offered. For my first time studying abroad,  I have experienced a tremendous amount learning. In this blog, I would like to explain more in detail about the chat with the monk session and how it related to my personal life.

Pra K K was the monk who facilitated our question and answer panel. Learning from Pra K K was truly an unforgettable experience. Pra K K responded to our questions about the monk experience and the ways of Buddhism. I really appreciated learning about what Pra K K had to share. Everything seemed relatable and easy to understand for me. It was like a fresh reminder for me to be loving and to detach from materialistic wants.

In the session, a question was asked on how to practice compassion and kindness. Pra K K’s response was that there was three steps. First, one must accept and forgive oneself. Then, it will be accepting and forgiving your family. Lastly, it is accepting and forgiving others. This resonates with me so much, because when I was younger I used to love listening to a song by Michael Jackson called, “Man In The Mirror.” This was when I began to work on myself and love myself. The song mainly explains that in order to make a change in the world, we must begin with ourselves, the man in the mirror. It seemed like this was the message that Pra K K was giving us. This reminded me to once again continue working on myself before helping others work on theirselves.

Another takeaway that related to my personal from this session was that monks choose a very challenging path. The reason why I say this is because a monk’s life is supposed to be simple. They must detach themselves from desires and temptations. Monks do not worry about their wardrobe, because they only wear one outfit and it is the same color every day. Monks wake up early to chant and immerse in Buddha’s teaching, then the meditate, then they go around for food and share food. After that, they take care of cleaning duties within the temple. Then they go to school, and then go back to meditate. It seems like simple, but monks make the most sacrifices out of all people. They are away from their families, and removes materialistic wants from their life. This may be the hardest thing for many and myself, to detach ourselves from our wants and desires. However, this is a way to really find true happiness. This kind of happiness does not rely on other people or things to make them happy. It is from within yourself. Realizing this made me understand why sometimes people find themselves disappointed or sad. There was a saying that my friend shared with me, “Wanting is suffering.” After the question and answer session, I believe that Buddhism teaches detachment so that the followers of Buddhism can find inner peace and enlightenment.

Overall, talking with Pra K K was amazing. He brought back many of the things that I used to hold very close to me like changing myself first and detaching myself from desires. The power of happiness may exist if you decide to live life simply and love yourself.

Blog #2 Balance of the Mind and the Body

Thailand is a Buddhist country, and I see the beautiful temple and why people love it so much especially tourist. It is truly beautiful, I had always thought that Buddha is a religion, but after the monk chat, I know that it is not. There was no creation of Buddha which was very amazing.

I really like how calm the monks are especially during the monk chat, I got to see how calm Pra K K is, when I learned about how the monks typical day and how they were able to reach enlightenment. By practicing meditation it will help  us balance our mind and body and let us find our inner peace. When the Pra K K  explain that he did not think about the future, and he let go of his past, he only focus on the present, I was amazed because I know that I always think about the future and he was right that I am stressing myself out.

I would like to do more meditation because I want to release some stress and I want to be able to balance my body and my mind. I really like the way how the monks live a very simple and normal life. Although there are rules they have to follow, to have peace within is all that matter.

I feel so rushed all the time as a college student, and I rarely have time to myself to reflect on things. After the monk chat, I feel that I have to find time to myself for me to meditate. I want to find the balance between my body and mind and focus on the present, let go of the past and, don’t think about the future. I think about the future all the time and it not what I should do and I stress myself even more.

I need to let go of the past because no matter what it is in the past and I will not be able to change it. and the future is the unknown, we never know what will happen and it is not predictable. often we ask people about their future and what they want to do, and many people already have it planned out, but sometimes everything will not go as plan. I feel that if we focus on the present, we will focus on the time we have and live each day and make the most out of it. 

Blog 2: Welcome to Thailand

The first few days were miserable as we made our way to Bangkok. The long plane ride was unbearable since I was squished in the middle with the constant need to use the toilet. Right after the awful 13+ hours flight from Dallas to Bangkok, I was ready to sleep on a proper bed. The next day started off with a bang as we participated in a Child Safe workshop. This workshop discussed many things about children and human trafficking. I’m glad that this was the first session that we attended since arriving in Thailand. I’ve learn many things that was intriguing and eye-opening to me. The message was to not give money to begging children, but to report to the Child Safe hotline in order to help the child. This will help break the cycle of poverty. The Child Safe organization will provide opportunities to help the children gain sustainable resources for themselves and their families. I came to Thailand with a mindset that the children needs help in this third-world country. So if I saw a begging child on the streets, I would not hesitate to give them money. I didn’t realize how close I was to contributing to endless cycle of poverty. I’m sure many tourist gives money with good intentions, but they’re not realizing that they’re doing more harm than good. Child Safe is doing their best to raise awareness of child in poverty and trafficking.

Also, as a tourist, don’t go visit a orphanage because they’re not a tourist attraction! After learning that orphanages is actually considered an attraction, I am appalled. If I was planning a vacation, I would want to visit famous sites, the beach, etc. The orphanage would not be on my list of things to do. I was also not aware that children in the orphanage were actually not orphans but had at least one living parent. These children don’t belong in the orphanages. However, due to the demand in children entertain, children trafficking continues to exist. Sometimes, children are exchanged for a bag of rice or given up because their families can no longer support them. There’s still a long way to go with this situation, but I’m proud to say that I’ve been certified to identify children in these cases.

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The rest of the week was filled with many activities and we got to interact with many of the local people. From visiting the local market to riding  wooden go-karts, the first week in Thailand has been amazing and I look forward to many more adventures in Thailand. I’m thankful to have this moment to reflect on my time here in Thailand. It’s a lot to take-in and I will try my best to be in the present.


Blog Post #2

Before my fist week in Thailand, I thought the weather would be perfect, the cities would look modernized, and everyone would get along since they’re all asian. I was definitely wrong.

It was super humid in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. I thought the rain would help. Instead, it made the humidity worse. I felt sticky every time I stepped outside. Also, the weather can be bipolar sometimes. One moment the sun would be up, and the next moment clouds would cover the sky and start pouring.

Bangkok had a lot of abandon buildings and deteriorated houses that seem to have people living in there. The homes and living conditions didn’t look comfortable. There are a lot of people and the houses densely compacted together. Thailand seems to be a country where everyone makes a living off from selling products. Literally, there are food, clothes, massage, accessory, and many other shops every where. What seems to make Bangkok and Chiang Mai humid is due to too many cars creating pollution and a lot of vendors are constantly cooking.

When we went to the Hmong village, I learned that some Thai people discriminated the minority groups. I was surprised because I wanted to know the reason why they discriminated other asians when they have so many things in common. The chief villager told us about how they tried to pursue in a career they desire, but the Thai people would try their best to make them fail and put them down no matter how hard they tried. This is one of the reasons why many of the minority students stop going to school after high school and go back to their villages to help their parents with farming.

I’ve learned so many things just by living in Thailand for a week. I hope to discover more about Thailand for the next 2 weeks that we have left.






Blog Post 1

Hi everyone, my name is Pakakun Srimaneekulroj, but you can just call me Ernie. I am a senior at the U, majoring in Biology, Society, and Environment and minoring in Chemistry.  An interesting fact about me is that I have duel citizenship in Thailand and the US.

I was born in Thailand and continued to live there until 2nd grade, when I moved to the US. Originally, since I moved at such a young age, I had forgotten Thai. It was only until my cousin came to live with me in 6th grade that I was finally able to speak it again. I still cannot read or write, but that is definitely a goal of mine someday. Now that I am a lot older and I can travel alone, I visit Thailand pretty often. When I do visit though, it is mostly to see family and we primarily stay in Bangkok, so this trip will be pretty exciting. I want to see different parts of Thailand and experience it in a way I  never have before.

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Blog Post 1


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Well, to start out this narrative, my name is Alexandra V.  Romfoe. Some people call me Alexandra, some call me Alex, and some even call me Al. (which can make my heart happy although I’d never asked to be called “Al”) I am 21 years old which means my quarter life crisis is looming.

In the Fall I will begin what I ever so lovingly call my “victory half lap” (I’m taking an extra semester due to utter cluelessness as a freshman). I am majoring in Biology, Society, and Environment, and minoring in Public Health and Geography, although I’m considering turning the victory half lap into a full lap to bump up my geography minor in to a major (although that may just be the onset of my quarter life crisis talking). Nevertheless, after I get my undergraduate degree(s) settled, I plan to go to Mysore, India to volunteer at the NGO Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement and then begin graduate school to get my Master’s in Public Health focusing on Global Health or Community Health Promotion. Some day I would like to work abroad at NGOs. (Thailand and India are the biggest contenders so far)

As far as interesting facts about myself go, I have one default: I can jump rope and pogo stick at the same time. But I guess I could fill you in on a few more logistics. I am originally from Cudahy, WI ( a suburb of Milwaukee), I have 2 younger sisters, and my family owns 2 King Charles Spaniels named Oliver and Lola. I have an affinity for weight lifting and knitting (a strange combination I know), and I am the vice president of my sorority Kappa Alpha Theta. I also have an insatiable need to travel. Just in the past year I’ve been to Thailand, Singapore, India, France, and Ireland.

While in Thailand there are numerous things I hope to learn. From my first trip I got to learn what everyday life looked like in an upper middle class family in Bangkok, I got good exposure to Thai culture, and way of life. In a few short days when I return, I hope to learn more of the Thai language and continue to learn more about the culture and life in general in Thailand so I can better decide if I would like my future career to take place in Thailand or India.

During our trip, my dear friend Ernie and I will also be collecting information for our senior project about human trafficking. Although it is a heavy topic, I am excited to look at what measures are in place to reduce/halt the practice. I hope that I will learn a lot that can be translatable into whatever public health career I end up in one day.

Until next time,

Alexandra V. Romfoe


Blog #1

My name is Ellie and I am going to be a senior social work student at UMD. I am so excited to experience and learn from a culture and atmosphere so different from what I am used to! I am also very  interested in culture and people and I look forward to experienceing the Thai culture and learning about the communities in Thailand.

1st Blog – Wennicha

Hello Everyone!

My name is Wennicha. I recently graduated from the University of MN with my B.S. in Family Social Science. Someday, I would love to be a professional trauma counselor. I enjoy healing people through simple acts of listening, validating experiences, and making sure people feel valued and loved. Right now, I am exploring the realm in being a spiritual healer – in which I hope to master in the future.

One interesting hobby of mine is photography! I discovered photography during my 2nd year of college because I was immensley stressed and needed an outlet. For one, I like to express my thoughts and feelings through the art of photography. You can check out some of my work on my Facebook Page: WY.WENNICHA. My photography focuses on the elements of LOVE, LIGHT, and POWER. When I capture people’s humanely expressions and experiences, it brings me happiness and peace.

I did not bring my camera to Thailand though, because my goal for this trip is on connection – to be spiritually, mentally, and physically “IN.” Nonetheless, I am challenging myself to take bold pictures with my iPhone 5s to bring back memories for a lifetime. As a photographer, I’ve learned that you don’t always need a big camera to take great pictures  I am excited to see what I can direct and capture.

I am extremely excited to be on this trip to SEE Thailand. I have been dreaming about this journey since I was a young girl. My father would tell me stories of Thailand – how beautiful he remembered the jungles, and how delicious the fruits were there in comparison America’s fruits. As a Hmong American, they say that going “back” here to connect with other Hmong people and my roots grounds me even more as a human being – and that I find a piece of myself that I cannot find in America. I am excited to discover what that piece may be, and what depth it’ll add to my life

I am excited to connect and learn more about the NGOs that we will be visiting as a group to learn more about sex trafficking and drugs. I’ve always wanted to visit these organizations. I want to know about their impact, their struggles, and how I can contribute to building a safer world for women and children.

Overall, I feel very fortunate to go on this trip with my peers. I am a Hmong American, student, daughter, sister, partner, friend, and healer – and I am excited to see how this will impact my experience in Thailand. This is my last study abroad trip as a student, and I plan to make it meaningful. Thank you for reading. <3

Much Love,


Blog Post #1

My name is George Vang. I’m a sophomore at the University of Minnesota and I still haven’t decide my major. I have a total of eleven siblings, five brothers and six sisters. One interesting fact about me is that I like to experience new things, such as bungee jumping, sky diving, zip lining and cliff jumping.

One learning goal I have for this study abroad trip is to learn and experience the Lao and Thai cultures. I have always wanted to travel to Laos and Thailand because my family and friends would always talk about their experiences and what they loved about it.


Blog #1

Sawatdee, Ka! My name is Molina and I recently finished my second year of college. I’m majoring in Journalism-Strategic Communications with a minor in Asian Language and Literature.
One learning goal I have for myself is to learn about the overall culture of Thailand: food, language, religion, traditional customs, etc. This country had no foreign influences and it’d be interesting to see how Thailand had developed on their own. This would be my very first time traveling out of the country and I look forward to all the new things I’ll be experiencing and learning.