Stephanie, outbound to Thailand

Almost two weeks in Thailand! 

It's only been two weeks since my exchange adventures began. So much has happened already! I've seen so many new styles and people and experienced culture shock beyond my expectations. I first set foot in Thailand on August 11th. My host family is so sweet. They made a poster for me with my picture and my name on it. My exhaustion from traveling for 26 hours disappeared when I saw them! I hugged my host mom, and then we took a bunch of pictures together. The whole family was there to greet me. There is another exchange student living with my family from France, and she arrived the same day as I did. It was a 3 hour drive from the Bangkok airport to my home in Nakhonsawan. It was all a blur when we got home. I remember showering then going to sleep.

The first morning in a new place is always kind of awkward. I didn't know what to do, so I found my host mom and she took me to get breakfast. I was surprised when we hopped on a Vespa and drove 5 minutes up the street to get some rice and orange juice. My host family gave me a Thai name, Saruta Suesontaranon, and a nickname, Ohm. My first day, we ate Italian food for lunch and Chinese food for dinner. The "Italian" food was noodles, onion rings and pizza. For dinner, the whole family came. Cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents. We ate so much. All of the food was new to me. They encouraged me to try everything. The next morning, one of my host sisters, Earn, left to go to Colorado. It was very very sad. My whole host family cried. I wanted to cry even though I just met her 26 hours prior to her departure. That day we went to a huge outside market, and to the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

Amelie, the French exchange student, is here for one month on a short term exchange. My family wants to show her everything in her one month here. I am not starting school until she leaves so that we can see Thailand together. So far, we have seen a lookout in Nakhonsawan, a few temples, a crocodile show, two aquariums (one of which had a poster for the Everglades in Florida!), a waterfall, and many animals. My kun dah, grandpa, took us to feed monkeys the other day. We threw about 3 dozen bananas from the safety of our car.

My favorite part about Thailand so far, besides all of the smiling people, is my host dad’s resort. He owns this hue resort/museum that’s home to thousands of trees and a bunch of animals. My host family and I stayed there one for night. I was confused when we first got there, because we had a long day of watching Muay Thai, and it was late at night. When I woke up and looked outside, I realized I was in a very beautiful place. My host dad collects ancient artifacts from all over the world, such as Chinese porcelain and French silver. He has a bunch of old record players and juke boxes with American 80s music!

So far, other than being mildly confused at all times, I’m really happy in Thailand. Thank you Rotary for this awesome opportunity!