Pessi Lansirinne

Thailand

Hometown: Alpharetta, Georgia
School: Chattahoochee
Sponsor District : District 6900
Sponsor Club: North Fulton, Georgia
Host District: 3350
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Nongkhae


My Bio


Hello, My name is Pessi Lansirinne and I am sixteen years old. I'm originally from Finland but my family decided to move to Atlanta couple of years ago. This made me to realize how big the world is. Now I would like to learn more and experience new cultures and places. I live with my parents and my little brother in Alpharetta, Georgia. I go to Chattahoochee High School and I'm now a sophomore (10th grader). I like my school's safe, friendly, and international environment. I like to keep myself busy. My hobbies are swimming, under water rugby, skiing, playing piano and guitar, and making origami. I also belong to my High School's Technology Student Association. After graduating from a university, I hope to become a physicist and maybe some day I will start my own science company. My life is busy right now. I don't have much free time due to daily swimming and schoolwork; when I do have spare time, I like to relax or hang out with my friends. Meeting new interesting people is important to me. As a Rotary outbound candidate, I hope to achieve a life changing experience in another country. I hope to become fluent in a new language, to meet people, and to get life-long friendships. I have positive attitude to learn and experience totally new cultures and to reach better understanding of the whole world.

	 Meeting The President of Saraburi

Meeting The President of Saraburi

Nan Province

Nan Province

Thai Moviestar

Thai Moviestar

Tarzan

Tarzan

View from Temple

View from Temple

Temple

Temple

Asian Day at School

Asian Day at School

Navy Base Field Trip

Navy Base Field Trip

Sport day at school

Sport day at school

Me as a monk.

Me as a monk.

My host brother and sunflowers

My host brother and sunflowers

Islands close to Pattaya

Islands close to Pattaya

RYLA camp

RYLA camp

My friends participated in beauty contest.

My friends participated in beauty contest.

Riding bikes in activity park.

Riding bikes in activity park.

Riding elephants 1st of January 2018.

Riding elephants 1st of January 2018.

Scuba diving at Koh Lipe

Scuba diving at Koh Lipe

Fruit picking close to my house in Saraburi

Fruit picking close to my house in Saraburi

Most beautiful temple in Thailand, Chiang Rai

Most beautiful temple in Thailand, Chiang Rai

Southern Thailand islands with my Japanese friend Nanaka

Southern Thailand islands with my Japanese friend Nanaka

Speaking at farewell party

Speaking at farewell party

Picking rice

Picking rice

Monkeys in Lopburi

Monkeys in Lopburi

Making pottery at Nonthaburi

Making pottery at Nonthaburi

Camping in Northern Thailand

Camping in Northern Thailand

Koh Lipe boat festival

Koh Lipe boat festival

Unseen Thailand islands close to Malaysian border

Unseen Thailand islands close to Malaysian border

On the roof of our hotel!

On the roof of our hotel!

Chiang Mai waterfall

Chiang Mai waterfall

Sukothai, the first kingdom of Thailand

Sukothai, the first kingdom of Thailand

Harry Potter day at school

Harry Potter day at school

Thai new year, Songkran Day

Thai new year, Songkran Day

Journals: Pessi-Thailand Blog 2017-18

  • Pessi, Outbound to Thailand

    Sawaddii Krab,

    It has been a while since the last time I wrote here. I have been busy with traveling and other things here in Thailand. During the past few months I have fallen in love with Thailand even more than before. I have traveled to almost every part of the country and I have seen things that I couldn’t even dream of: Ancient Hindu temples in the east (Buriram), beautiful islands, beaches and scuba diving in the south (Koh LIpe, Phi Phi Islands, Phuket, Krabi, Pattaya etc.), waterfalls and railway bridges in the west (Kanchanaburi), and beautiful sceneries, mountains, elephants, ziplines, and markets in the North (Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Sukothai). I have also traveled to nature parks, ancient cities, rivers etc. close to my home here in central Thailand. Even though the most famous parts in Thailand are far away from my house, one of my favorite trips was to a rice field not far away. I was wearing a traditional Thai farmer outfit and picked rice all day. I felt like I was a Thai person and my mind was at peace. However, this was only one of the hundreds of places I went to. There are simply too many trips to write about! I am very thankful to my host family for taking me to all these places.

    In addition to all this, Rotary has organized multiple activities for us here in 3350. In the beginning of the year, we had a English camp where we taught English to little kids. We also had two bustrips, one to the North and one to the South, with all the inbounds and outbounds. Finally, we have had massage and meditation camps in Bankgkok.

    On the bus trips, I got to spend time with all my friends and we learned a lot about each other. The first trip was to the South. We visited some of the most beautiful islands and beaches on the planet. We swam in hot springs and had a great time at the hotel swimming pool.

    The second trip to northern Thailand was a little longer and very different from the South trip. In the north we visited the highest point of Thailand, the most beautiful white temple in Thailand, the Golden Triangle (where Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos meet) , the remains of the last kingdom in Thailand and much more. But the best thing was not visiting all these places. The best thing was to spend time with some of the most amazing people which I can now call my third family.

    The meditation camp in Bangkok, organized by Rotary, was also an experience I will always remember. Together with my friends, I slept in a Wat Pho temple right next to the famous Grand Palace. Even though meditating with so many people around was much more difficult than in December when I ordained for a couple of weeks, I still learned a lot and had a good time with my friends. We all wore white uniforms and followed a monk around Bangkok. We visited multiple temples and even took a boat around the canals. In every place we visited, we practiced meditation.

    In May my friends and I asked Rotary if it was possible to organize a massage camp to learn traditional Thai massage. Fortunately, Rotary said yes, and the next week we all spent more time in Bangkok together. I slept in the house of my Japanese friend Takumi. His family was really nice to us and I really appreciate their hospitality. Every day after the lessons ended, we traveled to Bangkok in a big group. We went to markets, restaurants etc.

    District 3350 , together with the south district, had a district conference in Pattaya. At the conference, inbounds and outbounds had a dance performance. Every weekend before the conference we practiced and we were finally able to perform a 20-minute-long show built from many different parts and songs. Personally, I was impressed at how well our teachers were able to teach us, people with absolutely no background in performing. As I am one of the few exchange students who can speak Thai, I was asked to speak for all the exchange students in the district conference. However, my mom had booked a trip to the nearby island and I had to leave before the speech. Fortunately, my friend Henry was able to help out.

    Last year, Rotary told the exchange students that we could start a charity project if we wanted to. In February, I started selling pizza to raise money and food for children from low income families. At first I only had a microwave size oven. After working all day and still getting nothing done, I figured that I need to build a bigger oven. I found some bricks and pieces of metal outside my house and I built a real Italian pizza oven. I followed Italian recipes and in four days I was able to make more than 50 pizzas by myself. I sold them for 200 baht (6.50 dollars) each and I was able to raise a lot of money. In addition, I sold bags of fried banana chips at the district conference. The day before the conference, I worked from 9 am to 2 am with my family to finish the snacks. Finally, we had about 450 bags of fried banana. At the district conference, almost every Rotarian bought a bag or two and I was able to sell all the bananas. The final amount of money I raised was 16,327.00 baht (520 dollars), and together with Rotary Club of Nongkhae, I will donate the money to Wad Kum Hak School here in my hometown Nongkhae.

    My city is very small and there are not many Rotary families where I live. I only had one family over the whole year. This did not bother me at all because I was lucky and got the best family ever! However, I spent the first week of May in another family in Saraburi to get familiar with the lifestyle of multiple families in Thailand.

    In Thailand, seasons don’t really exist. Here we only have the rainy season, hot season, and really hot season. Therefore, “summer holiday” also doesn’t exist. In Thailand the long two and a half month break from school is from the beginning of March to the middle of May. About three weeks ago school had started again. I enjoy school even more than before because my Thai language skills have improved during the break. Now I am able to communicate with my friends even better than before. In school I only get grades for classes that are easy for me. These classes are math, chemistry, music, English, PE, and individual studies; basically everything that does not require me to read books in Thai. Now I can read Thai, but back when I signed up for classes I couldn’t. Therefore, I have a lot of free time at school. I try to spend my time wisely. I have read books about things that I am interested in, I have learned a lot of Thai, started my own affiliate marketing business online, and studied for standardized tests for the coming year in high school. I have had time to do things that I like and that I am interested in, instead of studying what teacher tells me to study like back in the USA. I can say that in one year in Thailand I have gained much more useful knowledge than I ever gained in the USA or Finland.

    I think now it is a good time for a little advertisement. I have bought a lot of elephant pants that I am planning to bring back home (to USA) for my family and friends. I am asking for 10 dollars per pair for the expenses and transportation. Let me know if you are interested! I will add pictures of the pants down below.

    Now my exchange is coming to an end. I only have a month left until I return home on the 1st of July. It feels like it was only yesterday when I stepped out of the airplane. I already know that I will miss this place and the Thai people. However, I am very grateful for the opportunity and all the amazing memories that I got. I would like to thank the following people for everything:

    Thank you to my biggest sponsor, my own family, for letting me do this.

    Thank you to my host family Tulyanon for being so supportive and kind to me during the whole year.

    Thank you to Michael Parks and everyone else for fighting for the program in Georgia district 6900. Without you none of us could have the best year of our lives!

    Thank you to Rotary Club of North Fulton for sponsoring me.

    Thank you to my host district 3350 for having me here and organizing all the events for us.

    I have changed a lot as a person and experienced a completely different culture than the one that I am used to. I have made lifelong relationships with the Thai people. Yesterday I gave my final speech to the district and all the exchange students. I spoke about my charity project, my memories that I have from Thailand, and said goodbye to all my friends and families. Some of my friends have gone home already. It is time to say goodbye to all the people going home already, however, I still have a month or so left of my exchange. I will spend the last month like I have spent every month so far: taking every opportunity out of every day. I will travel to Phuket and western Thailand once more. I will have a field trip with my school to a beach. I will shop for things to bring back home for my family and friends. I have also promised to take my host family for a dinner to an expensive rooftop restaurant in Bankgkok to thank them for everything they have done for me.

    I can now call Thailand my third home and I will for sure come back in the years to come.

    I love you Thailand!

    Sawaddiikrab, Khobkun Krab.

    For the district here in Thailand I have to write a report on a given topic every month. Here are the reports from February to June:
    February essay:
    I am now halfway done with my exchange. So far everything has been great. I am enjoying every bit of my life here. I have an amazing host family, I could have never even imagined having a better one. They take me to travel a lot and help me with everything I need. Yesterday I counted how many provinces I have visited in Thailand and the final count was over 30!
    Experiencing Thai school has been a great experience. Even though I still do not understand everything, I have been able to make many friends and learn about another education system. Also the school lunch is very delicious and cheap in my school.
    I already speak Thai conversationally. It’s helpful when I need to plan things with my family or school. It also helps to make new friends and to communicate with them. To be honest the language is difficult but not impossible to learn. I still struggle with some vocabulary, reading, and writing yet I study every day.
    Overall, I am enjoying Thai culture, and everything in Thailand. The 5 months have passed very quickly. Right now, I am looking forward to the bus trips and travelling to Chiang Mai with my host family.

    March Essay
    How have I adjusted to my new host family?
    My second host is very busy with her restaurant startup, and therefore I have not been able to change families yet. I get along with my first host and I am fine with the situation. Nongkhae, the town that I live in, is very small, and there are not many host families available. In this host family, I have an amazing host brother, Ice, and we travel a lot. Every weekend, and sometimes during the week too, we travel to new and amazing places. The Tulyanon family has been better than I ever imagined my host family being. My host parents and Ice are very kind, flexible and understanding.
    I also try to do my part in the family activities; I clean the floor every day after dinner and I talk and participate as much as I can. I help my family learn English while they teach me Thai. I feel that for everything they have done for me, this is the least that I can do for them.
    I do hope to change families before the end of my exchange just because I wish to see life in another family. The ways of this family might not be how things are done in other Thai families and by changing families I wish to understand the Thai culture and “ordinary Thai family life” better than before. However, I have got time left before going back to the USA and at the moment the situation is perfectly fine with me.

    April essay:
    I had a great time on the bus trip to southern Thailand. I really loved every second of it. I have never seen such beautiful beaches and islands before. I have enjoyed swimming and snorkeling since I was very little and I was amazed how clear the water was. I also got some great pictures with my Go Pro. Spending five days with my exchange friends strengthened our friendships and I also made many friends from the outbound group. Together with some of the other inbounds I taught the outbounds about the European and American culture. The waterfall and springs that we traveled to see were also really beautiful. In Phuket I enjoyed the Show and food at Fantasea and the walking street at night. Overall, the trip exceeded my expectations and I just wish it did not go by so fast.

    The north trip was also great. My favorite part was Song Kran day(Thai new year), of course. I have never seen anything like it! Thousands of people on the streets having a waterfight. I walked with my friends around Chiang Mai and we had a lot of fun together. I even swam in the river because I was already so wet!

    I also liked all the temples and waterfalls we went to. It was amazing to visit the highest point of Thailand, the Golden triangle (the point where Thailand, Malaysia, and Laos meet) , Loi Ithanon, and the white temple. At the hotel I enjoyed being with inbounds and outbounds. I made a lot of new friends and I was able to help the outbounds with some questions about exchange

    May essay:
    How have I prepared for departure?
    I am going home July 1st so I still have over a month left in Thailand. Even though the scary date is coming closer and closer, I still have not really thought about it. So far I have asked my parents in USA to send me a list of things that I need to bring back home. On the 26th of May I am going to Jajujak market to buy a lot of things. It is better to shop here than back home because Thailand is much cheaper than America. I also got a suit made in Bangkok for the same reason. I will need a new suit next year for high school graduation, prom, and other things, so I figured it would be better to get it from Thailand. Before I go home I am also planning to visit the temple where I ordained in December in Wangnamkiau province. To thank my host family for everything that they have done for me, I have promised to take them out to eat on a rooftop restaurant in Bangkok. Other than the things I mentioned, everything is still pretty normal. I travel with my host family a lot and sometimes I go to Saraburi to see my friends. My Italian friends in Saraburi (from AFS) are leaving next week and some of my Rotary friends have already gone home for school things. It is a little sad to say goodbye to everyone but I am sure that we will meet sometime in future.

    June essay:
    May was a busy month for me. Even though my exchange is coming to an end, I still travel a lot with my host family. I started the month at Eduardo’s house. I spent a week with him to get familiar with the life of families other than my host. After the week was finished my parents picked me up to go to Khao Jai nature park. We went to a waterfall and paddled on a lake. The next week, Rotary organized a meditation camp in Bangkok. I had a great time, even though meditating with lot of friends around was really difficult. When the camp ended I visited Grand Palace with my friends.
    My family took me fruit picking. We picked mangos, jack fruits, and small orange fruits (I don’t remember the name). It was fun and I got some good pictures. Then, after a couple of days at school, we went to Kanchanaburi in western Thailand. The first day we visited one of the most beautiful temples that I have ever been to, a railway bridge, a massive tree, and finally we spent the night on a lake in a floating house. The next day I went to see seven beautiful waterfalls in a forest. The water was clean and I was even allowed to swim and jump.
    Now, it was time to wrap up my pizza project. I fixed my old oven in the front of my house and spent one day making pizza. The final amount to be donated to a school in Nongkhae became 16,327.00 baht!
    Henry and some of the inbounds, including myself, were interested in learning Thai massage. Fortunately, Rotary was able to organize a massage camp in Bangkok. During the camp I slept in Takumi’s house with Henry. It was great to spend little more time with my friends before our departure and learn an extremely useful skill. The final day of the camp I met my host family at Asiatique. My mom had booked an amazing dinner on a boat. The food was great and it was really beautiful to see Bankgkok, the river, and Grand Palace at night!
    My family bought two puppies. I play with them every day when I return from school. After the break I have enjoyed school more than normal as I can now communicate more with my Thai friends.

    Click HERE to read more about Pessi and all his blogs

  • Pessi, Outbound to Thailand

    Essay 1: How did I Adjust to My First Host Family in Thailand?

    Contrary to the ordinary experiences of other exchange students (things I have heard and read from them so far), my arrival to the “land of smiles” was very smooth. I have enjoyed every moment since I stepped off the airplane approximately three weeks ago. Initially, I experienced a very small amount of culture shock, but it was a positive experience. I had read about Thailand before my exchange year began, making adjusting to the culture not too difficult; in fact, I enjoy finding and learning about cultural differences and seeing new things. However, sometimes I get comments about the Thai etiquette. For an example, when I turned the fan on with my foot my host father told me to always do it with my hand.

    My first host family is absolutely amazing. I have a brother, about the same age as me: Ice. He has become my best friend and source of support. My family loves to travel and almost every day I have been lucky to see new and extraordinary things. So far, I have been to Bangkok, Saraburi, Lopburi, Nan (in north), Hat Nang Lam beach, a Navy base, Korad, many markets, malls, temples, waterfalls, sport facilities, swimming pools, and even a river that I rafted down in a rubber boat. At home, I haven’t really had any problems. If I had to name one, it would be the toilet but that is slowly becoming part of my everyday life. Thai food is delicious and I am now able to eat spicy foods. However, it gives me stomach pain. At school, everyone has been very nice to me. Teachers teach me the Thai language and help me do things I like on the campus. Among the students, I am famous due to my blond hair and white skin. I was excited to finally meet all the other exchange students at the orientation. I am especially close to Kalyn (Mali) and Eduardo (Inci). Together we even went to meet the president of Saraburi which was an unforgettable experience. In conclusion, please don’t worry about me: I am doing great!

    Essay 2: How have I adjusted to Thai school?

    My first school day was just two days after I arrived to Thailand. I walked in during the morning ceremony. When the students first saw me in my brand-new school uniform, they began clapping and yelling. I guess my blond hair is something that they do not see every day. Making friends has been very easy. During the first couple of days it took me hours to go to the bathroom and back because everyone wanted to take a picture with me. One of the English teachers has been my “counselor”. She helps me with everything and tells me where to go. Since the first day we have met and talked almost every day. I have no schedule but I do have classmates that I normally follow during the school day. However, during classes that require advanced language skills, I usually go play Thai music instruments or table tennis. I have also done many sports including fencing, Thai traditional dancing, and martial arts. I hang out with the teachers a lot too. They teach me Thai language and give me free food. The first week of school I had to speak in front of the whole school three times in Thai! Also during the Asian day, some of the teachers made me dance in front of everyone. That was way out from my comfort zone but I soon learned that students here are very open minded and do not care if one looks funny or does something stupid. Overall, I like my school a lot. Everyone has been kind to me and I am super popular. Right now, we have a midterm break so I won’t go to school for another month.

    Essay 3: November

    Between the middle of September and the beginning of November I had long break from school. During this time, I spent a lot of time with my host brother, Ice, at the Rangsit University. Ice did not have a break so I attended classes with him. The campus also had a big swimming pool and a gym, so sometimes I did exercise instead of going to class. My birthday was on the 16th of September, the first days of the school break. For my birthday I went to Hua Hin with my family. On our way we stopped at water market. Hua Hin was amazing; the first day we spent at the resort swimming in a pool eating delicious seafood. We went to the beach on the second day.

    Every Saturday during the break all the exchange students had a Thai language class in Bangkok. It was fun to get together with all my friends, even though I didn’t learn much in the classes. I study Thai myself every day and I already knew everything they taught us. After the class we usually went to the Terminal 21 shopping mall to eat and hang out little longer. The days when I did not have anything to do, I usually went to a gym. I got a bicycle fixed for me so I can now move around on my own in my small hometown.

    During the king’s funeral, I was giving out water and food to people at a big festival on a football field close to my house in Nongkhae. The day was very hot and I enjoyed seeing people smile as I handed out drinks. On two occasions, my host family took me to a Kao Jai nature park in the mountains. I really loved walking in the woods and paddling and swimming in a lake. The cool weather in the park reminded me of Finland, and it was very welcoming after spending two months in extremely hot tropical Thai weather. Overall, my break from school was full of fun experiences and I enjoyed every bit of it.

    December Essay: My 2nd Semester in School.

    I really haven’t had any problems at school since the beginning of my exchange. Everyone has been nice to me and I’m still very popular among the students. Student and teachers understand the language barrier so they do not expect as much from me as from other students. However, during the second semester I have begun to comprehend Thai much more. I hope to get a grade report in February and a teacher told me that to get it I need to take the tests. Math, English, and Chemistry are very easy for me and I often help my friends with homework. Other subjects are harder because I miss a lot of Thai vocabulary. Two weeks ago, my school had a sport day. What a great experience! I participated in running and shot-put and won both. Unfortunately, last week I couldn’t go to school. I had a big ACT test in Bangkok and I spent the week in my house studying for it. Now that the test is over, I am looking forward returning to the school tomorrow. I am planning to spend my Christmas break as a monk in a temple close to Kao Jai nature park. I am very excited for that too!

    January Essay: Holidays in The Temple

    My Christmas and New Year were very unordinary. Not only because I am in Thailand, but because I spent the holidays as a Buddhist monk. Between December 18th and 31st I was ordained in a temple close to Kao Yai nature park. I won’t ever forget those two weeks. I decided to become a monk because I wanted to live a simple life without any belongings or stress. I think I was lucky to be born in a relatively wealthy family and country. Being a monk, I wanted to find happiness from other things. I wanted to learn about my mind and body and find peace. Of course, achieving this all would take much more than two weeks, but I did get to experience the journey to some extent.

    The monastery was close to the forest and two times during my stay I went to walk and meditate in the forest with some of the other monks, including my tutor from Germany, Tilo, and my good Malaysian friend, Lean. The forest was completely natural, wild and untouched by humans. I saw multiple birds, snakes, elephant footsteps, etc. Our walks were about 6 hours long and very peaceful.

    Every morning the bell rang at 3 am. From 3 to 5 I had morning chanting and meditation. It is hard to believe because I am in Thailand, but in the mornings, it was freezing cold at the temple. I only had my robe and a couple of blankets so it was difficult to stay warm, however, I got used to the cold after a while and I realized that it was nothing compared to Finland.

    From 5 am to 6 am I cleaned, usually swept the floor, emptied trashcans, or wiped dust. At 6 we quickly put our robes on and went to the nearby village for alms round. It was my favorite part of the day. We walked bare footed for approximately 4 kilometers as the sun was rising over the forest and mountains. People, who had woken up early, gave us rice and snacks. After we got back to the monastery we prepared for the only meal for the day. Before the meal I had 30 minutes of free time that I usually spent meditating or cleaning.

    Before the meal, there was half an hour of chanting and Dharma talk in Pali and Thai languages with the lay people in a big hall. During that time some people often gave goods to the temple. The chanting ended with the males taking the bowls from us; they helped the monks carry the bowls. The food was all vegetarian but still very delicious. By the time I was about to eat for the first time after 23 hours, I was starving. Every day, I ended up taking and eating way too much and almost throwing up.

    One of the reasons why I picked this monastery with my host family, was because of the head monk running the place. Lum Paa is one of the most powerful monks in the world. He has reached complete happiness and peace. I have never seen anyone so truly happy and honest. He also had some crazy psychic skills like reading my thoughts accurately or knowing what was happening on the other side of a wall. He was so well known that people all the way from USA and Japan came to see him for advice. Every monk at the temple appreciated him a lot and we all tried to make good karma by helping him and giving him things. My job, for example, was to wash his feet every night. He spent his days in the forest or hospitals taking care of animals and people. The monastery was also collecting money for a whole new hospital. One day I was awarded by Lum Paa to travel with him to Yamaha Motorcycle factory close to Bangkok. Yamaha donated money for the hospital and we went to receive it. The night before we went into the factory, we spent a night in another forest temple close by. This place was literally a jungle with trees, flowers, and plants everywhere. I slept on the floor like usual. Going inside a huge factory with thousands of workers was a dream for me. I, together with the other monks, did an alms round around the factory following with a ceremony for receiving the money for the hospital.

    Let’s get back to the monastery. After eating I prepared meals for Lum Paa and people visiting the temple. It took approximately until 12 o’clock . After that I was able to go back to my goodie (a small and simple house where the monks sleep) and take a nap until 3pm. From 3pm to 5pm I worked more and from 5pm to 6pm I took a cold shower and meditated. At 6 o’clock some of the monks went for the evening chanting but I usually washed Lum Paa’s feet and helped him give snacks and advice for the people visiting the temple. I learned a lot myself while I sat behind the great monk and listened what he had to say. During these two weeks I learned a lot about the universe, mind, happiness, and loving kindness. At 9 pm I went back to my goodie in the darkness not interrupted by any lights from human settlements. I looked at the stars which I had never imagined to be so many, so bright, and so beautiful.

    On Sunday December 31st, my parents picked me up from the temple. The two weeks had passed very quickly. I was very excited to see my host family but at the same time sad to leave the temple. But I was sure I would come back. After washing my clothes and the disrobing ceremony my family took me to a mountain park. We spent the new year camping on a mountain, watching fireworks and eating good food. The next day we went elephant riding.

    Click HERE to read more about Pessi and all his blogs

  • Pessi, Outbound to Thailand

    Sa wat dii kraph! I have been in Thailand for about three weeks and I am already in love with this country. Before my exchange, I had travelled to many western countries, but Thailand is something completely new for me. Every day, I learn new things and am surprised about many cultural differences, even though I had educated myself about this place before landing here. But let me start from the beginning!

    The flights to Bankok from Atlanta were long. I tried to sleep as much as I could and not check the time during the first flight to Seoul, South Korea. Luckily, the guy sitting next to me in the airplane and I had many things in common and we could talk forever. During the last hours, I was trying to spot The Great Wall of China from the window. I think I saw it… maybe.

    In Seoul, I was supposed to have a relatively small gap between my two flights. The airport was big and I had to walk for a long time before I was able to reach and get through the security check and find my gate. Finally, after stressing and running, I found out that my flight would be delayed by 2 hours. I was relieved, but at the same time I was enthusiastic about getting to Thailand as soon as possible. However, every fifteen minutes, one hour was added to the delay. Finally, the plane took off about five and half hours late. I was tired and it was little frustrating to think that my new host family would have to wait in the Bangkok airport for hours.

    I was supposed to land at 9 pm on the 13th of August but because of the delay I arrived at 2 am on the 14th of August. I went to the immigration line and waited for my turn for about 20 minutes. The officer asked me, “What are you doing here? What is your address in Thailand? What school are you attending here?” I, half asleep, responded with something like “It should say it on the paper.” or “I cannot remember, sorry.” Luckily, he let me proceed to the baggage claim. I found my suitcase quickly and walked to exit number 14 to meet my family. They were waiting for me with big WELCOME sign that had my picture on it. Not only was my family there, but also other Rotarians. I hugged everyone and we took some pictures. I felt bad for keeping them waiting for over five hours for me. On the one and a half hour drive to my new home in Nongkhae, Saraburi, I tried to sleep. However, I was way too excited to do so. I unsuccessfully used my superhuman eyesigh t to spot things from the completely black night of Bangkok. For a long time, I had been thinking how it would feel to sleep for the first time in another country on the other side of the globe. However, I cannot remember anything about that because I fell asleep immediately after arriving at my new home.

    Every day since I have experienced unfamiliar places and customs. I never really got a culture shock, or if I did, it was all positive. So far, I have been lucky to visit tens of temples, markets, restaurants and cities. I have been to Bangkok three times and visited other big cities, like Lopburi, and Saraburi. I have made a trip to Nan (a province in Northern Thailand, next to Laos). My family has taken me to charity events, waterfalls, drafting, forests, malls, and so many other places. With my class from school, I made a fieldtrip to a navy base, beach, and music festival. Also, I have met the famous Thai singer Peck and some super famous movie star who built his own temple.

    I live with my host brother Ice, mom Suchada, who I call Me, and father Thiti, Pa. In another small house, right next to ours, there live the grandparents. Everyone is super nice to me and I couldn’t have been happier with my host family. The grandparents own a pig farm with hundreds and hundreds of pigs. The pigs can smell quite bad sometimes and make loud noises when they get hungry. Other than the pigs, the yard is full of exotic fruits and some other animals like cats, dogs, and geese.

    My first day at school was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. I walked in during the morning ceremony. More than 2000 students were sitting on the football field in lines, singing songs and praying. But when they saw me they started clapping, yelling, and some even stood up. It was a huge shock, but I soon understood that my blond hair and white skin caused it to happen. Ever since, I have got hundreds of friend requests on Facebook and everyone waves at me when I walk by. I would like to be normal and it is not right that they hold me as superior because of my genetic outlook. At school, I have lots of fun. I spend my days playing table tennis and Thai instruments, painting, studying the language, eating, and more. I cannot say that I really understand anything in the classes (other than math and science) but during those classes I often hang out in the teacher’s room, watch movies, or study my own things.

    For the free time after school, I bought a guitar and gym membership. I am a competitive swimmer but unfortunately the swimming opportunities here are not good. There is a bathing hot pool 30 minutes from where I live. My family has taken me there twice. Of course, I also hang out with my new friends after school.

    So far Thailand has been amazing and I am so happy that I was given a chance to study in this country. I enjoy experiencing new and weird things and I cannot imagine a better place for that than Thailand. Thai food is good and healthy. I am very used to saying “Aroi maak maak” (very delicious). In a week, it will be my birthday. I heard my host family has planned something special. I think we are going to a beach. But I will tell more about it in my next update. Sa wat dii kraph!

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