Category Archives: 2017 Thailand Learning Abroad Blog

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.

Blog Post #1 | Kia Lee

Hello, all!

My name is Kia Lee. I am a third-year studying Graphic Design. I come from a family of eight: my parents, grandma, four siblings, and me. I am the middle child out of my siblings. A few of my interests and hobbies are fashion, design (duh), traveling, and event planning.

One of the things that I do outside of school and homework (I’m always working on tons of graphic design projects) is intern at the University YMCA (no, it’s not a gym). The University YMCA is a YMCA branch at the U of M that has many programs and opportunities focused on leadership development for college students and youth development. I have created several pieces of work for the UY, such as a 2017 calendar and a few fliers.

I am also involved in a cultural student group, the Hmong Minnesota Student Association (HMSA). HMSA is the first community on campus that I got involved with and I cherish it deeply. I was on board as the Co-Activities chair during my second-year of school and am excited to serve as the Co-Education chair next year!

Visiting Thailand will be my second time traveling abroad and my first time in Asia. I am excited to learn about the Thailand culture and customs. I cannot wait to visit the temples, night markets, and schools. Another part of this trip that I am excited about is seeing the differences and commonalities between the Hmong-Thai and Hmong-American cultures.

Blog post – Sia Thao

Hello, my name is Sia Thao. I am a sophomore majoring in Computer Science. While my major is Computer Science, I also have an interest in teaching as well. One of my life goal is to go back to the rural areas of Thailand and teach my people(the Hmong) so they can have  more opportunities.  Thus, one of my goals for this trip will be to assess and compare Thailand’s educational system against the United States in order to find out what I need to prepare when I go back to Thailand and teach my people.

Another goal of mine is to go back and re-live some of my childhood memories in Thailand. I was born in Thailand and immigrated here in 2004. Since then I have never had the chance to return to my birthplace. However, with this study abroad opportunity I will be able to go back and re-live some of my memories from my childhood. I will also be able to meet some family members that I have been missing for 13 years now.

I am excited for this trip and the experiences that it will give. See you Thailand!

Blog post #1

Hey everyone!

My name is Rachel Diers and I am a graduating senior, majoring in marketing. This study abroad trip is my last requirement for my degree and to celebrate I will be staying for two weeks after our program is over in Thailand and traveling with my three older sisters and mom who will be meeting me in Thailand!

                                           These are my sisters, my mom, myself and my nephews.

I love traveling, music festivals/concerts, spending time with my family, hanging out with my amazing nephews and most anything dealing with the outdoors.

I’m very excited about a number of things we have lined up for our Thailand trip, the itinerary and course outline seem very well rounded and I really feel like we will be fully immersed into the culture.  A big goal I have for myself, which was stimulated by our second orientation as a class, is to try to fully understand the differences between my culture and Thailand’s culture with an open mind.  Acharn Cathy made a point during our orientation that really stuck with me, instead of looking at the garbage on the streets of Thailand and thinking it’s dirty and that people should be cleaner, we should try to understand why we’re responding that way. We should also try to open our minds and understand that it’s not just as simple as throwing trash in a garbage, you need the infrastructure to support the garbage system and everything that goes behind that. So overall a big goal I have for myself in this program is to try to have as open of a mind as possible and to appreciate why our cultures are different, why we handle things differently and to understand that that’s not a bad thing.

Can’t wait to experience Thailand together!

Blog Post 1- Pre-Departure Samantha Zomok

Hi everyone! My name is Sam, I have just finished my junior year at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. I am a major in Family Social Science with a triple minor in Psychology, Leadership and Family Violence Prevention. It sounds like a lot, but I love it. Every class I take makes me want to learn more, experience more, and challenge myself even more. It’s constantly keeping me on my toes for what to do when I graduate.

I am really looking forward to this trip to Thailand. It was never a place I really saw myself going, which is exactly why I want to go. It is something new and out of my comfort zone. Thailand is also going to let me utilize and see all of the things I have learned about in the last semester. Seeing a new culture and being apart of it even for a little while is more than I could ever hope.

Here’s to a fantastic trip!

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.