Kendra Curcio
2007-08 Outbound to Thailand

Hometown: DeLand, Florida
School: DeLand High School
Sponsor: DeLand Rotary Club, District 6970, Florida
Host: Tongkah Rotary Club
         District 3330, Thailand

Kendra's Bio

Hey! My name is Kendra Curcio. I am an 18 year old IB Senior at DeLand High. I live in Central Florida but will be spending next year in Thailand!

I live with my mom, dad, and younger brother Zachary who is 16. My interests are photography, tennis, and ballet.

I decided to be an exchange student because I love to travel but haven't had much of a chance having only been outside the country twice. That's all for now.

Kendra


October 4 Journal

 I have been in Thailand for almost three months now but it does not feel like nearly that long, most likely because there is still so much to get used to here. Thailand is different from America in most every way.

I left Florida on July 5th from Orlando. Luckily my parents and brother where also flying out to Detroit later that same day so they were able to take me all the way to my gate. I waited and was the last person to board the plane. I was on my first flight alone from Florida to Detroit but it was not that long of a flight only about 2 and 1/2 hours.

When I arrived Detroit I found my gate and sat reading while I waited for the other exchange students that I was told I would be met by in Detroit. After waiting for quite a while the boy who had been sitting behind me since I arrived at the gate walked over and asked if I was a Rotary exchange student. It turns out he was one of the exchange students I was waiting for, but he had not been wearing his jacket so I had not noticed him. After a while longer two other exchange students showed up. Liz and Sarah from New York. The four of us sat talking about our excitement for our year in Thailand until the plane started to board. Right before it was time for us to board I heard my name being called it was my cousin Heather who had also flown to Detroit that day for my grandfather’s funeral. I jumped up and hugged her and then saw her husband and my mother, father, and brother running over to say goodbye again. We had not expected to see each other at the airport because we thought my flight would have taken off before theirs had landed. This goodbye was not so bad I had already cried during the first flight and now I was with the other exchange students so I boarded the plane to Narita happy that I had gotten another chance to see my family!

The flight to Narita Japan was about 13 hours, but it wasn't as bad as I had expected it would be, since I hate flying. I had the other exchange students to talk to and to play cards with. I attempted to sleep but I think I got at most 3 hours of sleep over my 23 hours of flying. After we landed in Narita and found our next gate we only had about 10 minutes before we had to start boarding again so we went quickly to a little shop and each bought a matching pin, they are shaped like flags and have Japanese characters on them, and then got our pictures taken together.

The flight from Narita to Bangkok was about 6 hours long. We were all seated separately so I switched seats so I could sit next to Devin, the other exchange student from New York, but both Sarah and Liz decided to sit each by themselves.

When we landed in Bangkok we got through Customs very quickly (they let us pass through when they saw that we were exchange students) and went to pick up our bags. We then begin to look for Sarah and Liz's host families. Almost immediacy we saw a Rotary sign and signs with our names on them accompanied by a huge crowed of people. We were greeted by everyone and given flower necklaces and then many, many pictures were taken.

Sarah and Liz were taken home from the airport by their host families and Devin and I had to stay the night in Bangkok before flying out the next morning to get to the cities in which we would be living. I was brought to a hotel for the night and Devin stayed at one of the family’s houses. At the hotel I had only time to sleep for about 2 hours before I had to get up and get ready to leave for my last flight. The flight to Phuket was a very short one, only about 1 hour and I was alone again for this last flight. In Phuket, I was a little late getting out of the airport because one of my bags had been misplaced by the airlines, once it was found I headed for the exit and a man came running at me holding the front page of my Rotary application upside down in my face and yelling "You? You? You?" This turned out to be my host father. I was then introduced to my host mother one of my host sisters and my second host family which is the president of my host club, his wife and their daughter Gib 16 who had just returned from her exchange to Virginia.

My House: My 1st host house was two stories with a finished attic above where a Buddhist altar is located. The first floor has a kitchen, living room, office, two changing rooms (with two showers a small bathroom and a Jacuzzi tub inside), an entertainment room and a workout room, the second floor has 5 bedrooms each with a balcony and bathroom. We also have three cars, three car ports, a motorcycle, maid’s quarters, two guest houses and a pool. My host family who owns this house tells me that my third host family has the really big house!!

My Family: My first Thai family consisted of my Thai father kun paw (father in Thai), my Thai mother kun meh (mother in Thai), my Thai sisters nung Fah age 10 and nung Fai age 14, and my host mothers' sister. Fai and Fah are nicknames (most Thais go by a nickname). Fai was named for fire, Fah was named for the sky, and my family called me pii Fon. Pii means older sister and Fon means rain. (Nung means younger sister.)

I recently switched to my second Thai family. Now I live with my new host parents who don’t speak English and a 16 year old host sister named Gib who was on exchange to Virginal last year. I am still just getting to know this family but I think I will like them very much!

1st month: My first week here we spent a lot of time shopping. My host family wanted to show me all the markets in Phuket as well as all the malls. The most popular place to shop is Central Festival which is the biggest mall here. It is bigger than most of the malls I have seen in America. It has many of the same stores as American malls do plus others. It also has a movie theater and a grocery store. However the most interesting place to shop is the markets. At the markets they sell most everything from clothes, to live seafood, to pets and everything is very cheap compared to America, though I am told for Thailand it is very expensive!

Also in my first week my host mom took me to ride an elephant! It was the first time that she had ridden one too. I really enjoyed it as we rode through the mountains where you could see the ocean below us. It was very pretty. My host mom however did not enjoy it because riding an elephant is very bumpy.

Most of the rest of the month I went wherever my parents went for business and when they had free time between stops they would show me interesting places around Phuket such as Buddhist and Chinese temples.

Near the end of the month I started school at Satree Phuket which means woman’s school. It is no longer an all girl school however. Though the majority of the school is still girls, 3000 girls and only 200 boys! I am in M5 which is equivalent to 11th grade. I am in a class with 17 other students. My first day in school the students in my class did not know I was coming so they were very surprised. They got together and planned an introduction for me! They are all very nice students and I get along with them great. This semester which just ended I followed my class to most of their classes which are Thai For the Thai student, Chinese, English Reading and Writing, Core English, Graphic Design, Social Studies, Hand Ball, Math, Business, Physics, Advice, Test Taking Skills for the English Exam, and Music Theory. I also take a cooking class 2 hours a week and an art class 1 hour a week with an M4 class. Next semester (which starts in about a month) my classes will change so I will no longer have to take Chinese or English classes. Instead I will take more cooking and art as well as Thai music, Thai Dance and Thai language.

We go to school from 7:30 until 4:15 Monday through Friday though my classes only last from 8:30 until 3:30. Every morning we have assembly. For assembly every student in the school comes out to the front of the school and lines up with their class. We then sing the national anthem and then there is a Buddhist prayer. Then we all sit on the ground while announcements are made.

My school is very strict. Last week at the M5 meeting we had a sock check. Every student in M5 was required to come to the meeting. After the teacher had finished speaking, she told us that there had been too many people wearing the wrong type of socks to school and that she was going to do a sock check. She had us leave the auditorium 5 at a time so that she could look at our socks as we left. Those who were caught with any color on their sock had to stay late for punishment. It took so long for all of us to walk out in groups of 5 that I was over an hour late for pick up!

2nd month: In my second month here I had my first Rotary orientation. There are twenty inbounds in my district: 6 Americans, 5 Brazilians, 1 Canadian, 2 Mexicans, 1 Japanese, 2 Taiwanese, 1 Finish and 2 Germans. We all became friends very fast. Our first day at orientation we were taken to the caves. The caves were really fun and scary because at the end we had to lie down flat in our boats and go through a part of the caves where the top was so low it was only inches from out faces. One rock hit my face and my friend on the other side of the boat almost got stuck on rock that pushed against her side

The second day of orientation was mostly meeting where we went over things such as rules, and language advice. In the evening we did cultural presentations where students presented anything they wanted to about any culture either by themselves or in a group. I was in a group with Sarah from America, Heli from Finland, and Ana from Brasil. We did our presentation on greetings and demonstrated how people greet in each of the country that the students where from plus Thailand.

That evening me and a few of the other students watched a meteor shower by the pool - it was exciting for me because I had never even seen a shooting start before.

The last day we had speeches to listen to, then we all had to say goodbye. In October all of the students are coming out to Phuket for about four days so we can see the Vegetarian Festival, and In the middle of November we have our first trip. It is to Northeast Thailand and into Laos!!

3rd Month: I switch families and houses this month so a lot of time was spent packing, unpacking and getting used to a new family. Yesterday I attended a Buddhist event at my school. It was similar to vacation bible school in the US. Monks lead the class. Most of the time there was a few hundred of us from M5 lined up by our classes sitting on the floor of the auditorium while the Monks talked and had us do different movements and prayers. The Monks made the class fun - they were making everyone laugh the whole time and teasing many of the students. They had us play Simon says except instead of saying “Simon says” he said "Nakrian" which means student. We also watched music videos, had snacks, and watched some videos that I still don’t understand why we were watching. The first videos were clips from America's Funniest Home Videos and the others were videos of people eating live mice and lizards and slaughtering animals. The class lasted about 8-9 hours. And it was very interesting to be a part of, though I could not understand most of what was said.