Coming Home; The Biggest Culture Shock of them All

I’m now back home after what was an amazing, life changing experience in Thailand. I know that the people I met will be friends when I come back to San Diego for school and the life lessons I learned will stick with me forever.

After starting the program in Chiang Mai, we spent the remainder the last 5-6 days in Bangkok. Bangkok is, as my former JMS teacher would say, is an “entirely different animal.” Bangkok is much more populated than Chiang Mai and a lot more busy.

Every night the city streets would be bustling with street vendors and tuk tuks and taxi drivers.

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New Experiences in Thailand

To say I was under-prepared for this journey would be an understatement. I wasn’t under-prepared in the sense that I didn’t know how to navigate airports by myself or travel in another country alone. As cheesy as it sounds, I was under prepared for the amount joy and pure fun that would happen on this program.

My first impression of Thailand was that it is more industrial than I imagined. A lot of the movies and pictures you see of Thailand are of the gorgeous beaches and thick jungles. Which is true — there are many beautiful beaches and being in the jungle here feels like you’re either on a movie set or on another planet.

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Finding Identity in the Tribe

We began this journey to Thailand as a group of very different individuals; while we were all under the same cultural umbrella of SDSU, each of us came from a separate walk of life that was unique from the rest of the group. The beauty of study abroad is that it unites people who are unlikely to make an effort to hang out with one another outside of the trip, and pushes them to get to know each other.

And it is for this reason that we developed such a tight bond.

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A New Playground

Imagine that you are 6 years old. Every Thursday, your mother traditionally takes you to your favorite park down the street to play. This place feels like home, and not only do you always see all your friends there, but you get to slide down the bright red fireman’s pole, like a real fireman.

However, today is special – because your mom is taking you to a new playground.

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A Gilman Scholar in Phuket, Thailand!

Apologies for my late continuation of my last blog! Midterms were happening here at Nanyang Technological University and I had to work on them.

First and foremost I want to thank the Gilman Scholarship for helping me fund my Study Abroad adventure. They have also invited me to events here in Singapore. One of them was in the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Singapore. I was invited to a dinner and was able to chat with other Gilman scholars and government workers.

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Student by Day, Tourist by Night

Before I arrived in Bangkok, I had a very clear idea of what my role here would be. I was going to be a student. I don’t mean to flaunt, but with a whole life of experience and a passion for learning, I think I’m pretty good at being a student. This confidence made me feel as though I had a leg up on the competition. It made me feel like taking the leap and spending six weeks in Thailand would be easy. I was both right and wrong.

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