Jasmin, Outbound to Thailand

I’m now a little more than 7 months into my exchange. Now, 7 months didn’t quite call for a huge celebration. However, hitting my 6 month mark did. When the time came I wasn’t celebrating the fact that I had survived this long. Although, I must admit that I didn’t think I’d last a whole month my first week here. Rather, when the time came I was celebrating the reality of my life and what I had realized in that moment. Back in December I went on my second Rotary trip. It was two weeks long and went through Christmas and New Year’s. I got to visit different parts of Northeastern Thailand and actually spent Christmas on a freezing cold mountain and New Year’s on a hot beach. We also had a new exchange student from South Africa that had just started his exchange which made things fun. In addition to traveling around Thailand on this trip we also got the chance to leave the country and visit Cambodia. I didn’t think much about the idea of going to Cambodia. To be completely honest, I thought it was going to be the exact same as Thailand. I didn’t think that anything could (or would) give me culture shock after having moved from the United States to Thailand. I was 100 percent, absolutely wrong though. I remember crossing the border into Cambodia and just feeling completely lost. In Cambodia they drive on the right side of the road like in the United States (in Thailand they drive on the left). A good portion of the people speak very good English unlike in Thailand. I couldn’t understand the native language, I couldn’t read the signs, the food was different, the money was different, and I don’t know how but the weather was actually hotter. It didn’t take me a long time to realize that I was actually going through culture shock again. We only spent 3 days in Cambodia but when we returned to Thailand I felt a huge sense of relief. After being in Thailand for 6 months I took the time to think and reflect about everything that had happened in my exchange so far. It was then that I realized how comfortable I actually am in Thailand now. I wouldn’t classify my self anywhere near fluent language wise but I know that I have improved a lot and can generally say what I want and need to. I’m able to use the public transportation here without any problems. I know majority of the rights and wrongs, the do’s and don’ts of the culture. I have been mistaken for a Thai person a few times. Reading and writing in Thai feels natural now. When I reached 6 months of living here I realized how much Thailand actually feels like home now and that was well worth a celebration. I’m now more than halfway through my exchange and am just living my normal day to day life. In other words, things are going great.

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