Henry, Outbound to Thailand

Hello! I am writing this with about 2 months remaining in my exchange and in between my 2 large Rotary hosted trips around my host country. School has ended for me and I’ve been on break for about 2 months now. Currently I’m still with my second host family and looks to be like that for the remainder of my exchange. But despite having all the free time in the world I have been constantly busy for the summer. In fact my summer has been busier than anytime before.

School ended for me around the end of February and at the time I was uncertain what I would be able to do for the remainder of my exchange. It started out very slow, only interrupted by trips with friends and activities with my host family or visiting work with my host mom. I’ve spent a lot of time playing sports with my friends or playing with my new dog or going into the city to hang out at the malls as well as numerous Rotary excursions like vaccine drives and fundraisers. One of the things I was worried about was losing some language after not being able to go to school but thanks to my wonderful host family I've been engaged all summer.

I’ve also gone on many fun Rotary trips. The first was to the beaches of Phuket Island on the west coast of Thailand. The drive there was around 16 hours which I was not expecting. It was still fun because on the bus you can talk to the other exchange students and play music! For the first few days we stayed at Phi Phi Island and went snorkeling and swimming a lot. The hotels we stayed at a large hotel in Phuket city. Our room was on the 4th floor and had a great view of the ocean and the surrounding city. Many great restaurants were also withing walking distance of our hotel so we could quickly go out and get food. Next we moved to the main Island of Phuket and stayed there for the remaining 2 days. We got to go to many fun areas in Phuket city and eat some amazing sea food.

Tomorrow I’ll be going to Chiang Mai for the Thai new year called Songkran. Chiang Mai is a large city in the northern part of Thailand famous for its elephants and wonderful festivals. Songkran is a holiday with a huge water party. Squirt guns and water is thrown everywhere in the celebration. I’m so excited to be able to go. After I get back I’ll be entering into a Buddhist monastery for a few weeks. Ever since I came I’ve been somewhat interested in Buddhism and I figured the best way to learn about it would be to experience the life of a monk first hand.

My exchange is 80% done and its been hard to really come to terms with that. When I first arrived it felt like I would be there forever but the longer I’ve been here the faster time seems to go. It already feels like I'm going home tomorrow. I think that's been the hardest part of my exchange for me as of now. I plan to do as much as I can until then.

I’m happy I got the opportunity to go to Thailand for my exchange. Even with all of its ups and downs living here has been absolutely life changing for me. I’m so grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been granted by everyone. I’m very happy to be living in Thailand today.

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