Jake, outbound to Thailand

1 month left in Thailand… now that is something I can’t get my head around.

Well it is official, today marks one month left of my exchange life here in Thailand. The first thing that I want to say is that I can’t thank Rotary enough for this opportunity. This year has been the best year of my life and I wouldn’t change any part of it. All of the support the Rotarians in Florida and in Thailand have given me is amazing and I am forever thankful for that. Usually in the journals I talk about all amazing things I am doing in Thailand, all the trips I am taking and all of the fun I am having, but that isn’t really the case for this one. These past couple months have been both fun and hard.

To start things off was our very last Rotary trip. This was probably my favorite trip out of all 3. I have written about all of them in previous journals. The first one we hiked a mountain and stayed up there for about 5 days. We went on walks and saw beautiful waterfalls, scenery, etc. The second trip was a trip to the tropical south of Thailand. We went swimming, snorkeled on coral reefs, and even were doing flips off of the boat when visiting all of the different islands. The last trip we went on was to a province to the north of Bangkok called Kanchanaburi, and we finished the trip in Bangkok. In Kanchanaburi we did some fun things like a ropes course.

The resort we stayed at had a hot spring and at night all of the exchange students went to the hot spring and just relaxed in there. The coolest part about it was about 10 minutes after we got there all of the lights turned out and we were sitting there in the dark. Then someone shouted “OH MY GOD, LOOK UP!” which we all did and the sky was full of stars. Sitting under the stars in a hot spring with my best friends from around the world, now that was one of my favorite memories of being here so far.

We all had to give goodbye speeches at the resort as well. This proved to be one of the saddest things. While I still had a long time left in Thailand, I probably wasn’t going to see most of the exchange students again before I left. The day after the goodbye speeches we went to Bangkok. That night we had an international buffet on a really big boat going around the city. The food was so good!! All of the exchange students were in heaven. My favorite was probably the Japanese food. The day after that we all had to say goodbye for real, and trust me there were a lot of tears. We all headed off in our own directions, going back to our cities knowing that there was a chance we wouldn’t see our best friends again for a very long time, if not our entire lives.

Other than the trip I haven’t gone on any major vacations. School started again, seeing my friends again has been really nice. I’ve been going to temples some mornings with my family; we actually just went to one yesterday. What really sucks the most though is saying goodbye to more exchange students. I live in a small town called Chum Phae. About an hour away is a city called Khon Kaen. 4 exchange students live there. So the other exchange student in Chum Phae and I go there often to see them and hang out with them. The 6 of us have really gotten to be some of the best friends I have ever had in my life. I love them all so much. As it stands now, 3 of them have already left to go back to their countries.

For a person’s last day, all of us come together and agree that we will do whatever the person wants to do. So for each of them we all let them do whatever they wanted on their last day in Thailand. I won’t really have that considering I am the last one to leave, but I don’t really mind. Spending the last day with all of these people and having to say goodbye to them is one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. We all have been there for each other this past year, any problem one of them had we all helped with. They have been my best friends. Every time we had to say goodbye to them, everyone was crying. Tomorrow, the other exchange student in my town and I will go to Khon Kaen to spend the day with Rodrigo. It isn’t his last, but it is one of his last days before he will return home to Mexico. Then they will all be gone.

As you can see, this past month really has been pretty hard. Not with language struggles or homesickness, but with saying goodbye to people you have really grown to love the past year. This is something that I expected, but wasn’t expecting to be as hard as it was. Rotary in the orientations prepared us for the language struggles, problems with your host family, etc. Although it has been hard, it has also been really fun. The other exchange students and I have been spending a lot of time together and doing really fun things. It has been a really bittersweet time.

I come home July 1, then my exchange will be over. Any future outbound or anyone who is thinking about being an exchange student, feel free to contact me if you have questions about anything. This will probably be my last journal, considering I leave in a month. I want to end this journal the same way I started it, by thanking Rotary.

The year I have had here has been the best year in my life. All of the struggles I’ve have gone through and living in another country has really made me a better person, and I have learned a lot about myself. Without Rotary this wouldn’t have been possible and I feel my time here wouldn’t have gone the same. I am forever thankful.