Demi, Outbound to Thailand

On August 7th, I got off plane in Bangkok after a long 24 hours of trasnsit. I lugged my bags through the airport after going to baggage claim (it was actually a little difficult), and I was warmly welcomed by my host families, club president, YEO, and other important Rotary people in Kanchanaburi. I said phrases like “nice to meet you” in Thai, and then we headed back to our houses. The first week was mostly getting accustomed to the time change; I was so jet-lagged! I did a decent amount of settling in during this time. In terms of culture shock, I am not used to all the attention I’ve been getting. People call me beautiful and stare at me, which actually makes me a bit uncomfortable, but I’m trying to get used to it. I can’t help but think they’re only complimenting me because I’m a white foreigner (the beauty standards in Thailand center around a lot of European features). Within a week of arriving, I was put in a traditional Thai dress for Mother’s Day (August 12th in Thailand), and the Queen’s birthday. I have also gone to a few cool places so far — Wat Tham Sua, Wat Phra Pathom Chedi, The Grand Palace, Chinatown, a few festivals, markets, and some malls! In my opinion, the food here is SO much better than in America. I’ve experienced being dressed up in school two times, one for a recycle dress contest and the other for sport’s day (which is going on today). At school I speak Thai, and quite frankly sometimes I really have no idea what is being said. Usually I can at least understand some words being said, but if I don’t and need assistance, I use this Thai-English translator app (I love it because it shows you the word in Thai script, shows the tones, and there’s even an option to search words through transliteration). I learn some stuff through that, which is good. I do have a problem with everyone always trying to speak English with me no matter how many times I say I don’t want them to. They either approach me speaking English or they resort to using English when I’m not understanding them, but I’ve made it a habit to keep responding in Thai and sometimes reminding people (nicely, of course) that I don’t want to speak English. If I wanted to speak English, I would’ve gone to Thailand years later as an English teacher, which is obviously not the case. My language skills are progressing more and more, and with normal conversational Thai, I can understand a large amount of it. I think I’m doing alright with making friends, as the attention is always on me. It seems mostly like they’re more school friends than anything else, since nobody hangs out with me out of school. I would like to have people talk to me outside of just school. I do have some issues with feeling sad, alone, being moody, etc. sometimes because of missing a few people and pets back home, and because I can’t really connect with people on a deep level with my current language skills. I know I will continue to progress, and hopefully will adjust more and more with time. I’m loving the country itself, and it’s absolutely gorgeous! Here’s to one month in the “Land of Smiles.”

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