Annie, Outbound to Thailand

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It has been 3 months seen I've been in Thailand. A lot of things have happened and I'll try to touch on all of them. I've finally settled in my host family, school, and community. First I want to talk about school here and the differences.

School starts at 8:00 and ends around 4:00 on Monday-Wednesday and Friday. Thursday we don't have school because there is military training for the students who want to join after graduating. The day starts with everyone meeting in the courtyard for morning announcements and to sing the national anthem as the flag is risen. One of the differences between American high school and Thai high school is in Thailand you stay with the same students and just move to different classrooms. Everyday has a different schedule on which classes to go to. I follow my class to their different subjects but since I am the only exchange student in my school I also go to my own classes where I learn Thai language, traditional Thai dancing, Thai food, music, and Muay Thai.

We all wear uniforms, which can get very hot, especially when there is no air conditioning. However we survive by using fans and ventilated classrooms. What I did not expect was there are a fair amount of stray dogs that live on the school property. People feed them and give them names so the dogs are more like pets than anything else. There is one named ไข่หวาน which literally translates to 'sweet egg'!

My new friends from school are super energetic and helpful. They always teach me new words and will randomly quiz me on them. My friend Sharon, who knows the most English, always points at things and ask me what it means in Thai or what color it is. It's been really helping me learn. I do have some struggles and obstacles but I try to learn at least one word a day.

I've already grown so much since I've been here. I recently had a big turning point in my attitude and mind set. Since I'm the only exchange student in my whole school I get stared at a lot. People randomly shout hello at me and watch me pass by everywhere I go. In the beginning, I thought it was cute and had problem with it but after a point I began to see it more in a negative light. It was like it was a zoo and I was the attraction. I looked very different from everyone else and I weighed much more than all the other girls at my school. I started dreading going to school but one day I took a step back and realized somethings. People aren't staring at me to be mean or to judge me, they're just curious about America and Americans. They're not focusing on my weight, they're looking at my hair color or how my eyes are green. They're fascinated with the differences but not in a bad way. I'm becoming more comfortable with myself and the cultural differences here in Thailand.

My new friends and teachers from school really help me through each day. I am really enjoying learning the language and culture of my new home.