My first weeks in Thailand have been full of new experiences and lot of learning. I will be studying abroad at Mahidol University International College (MUIC), which is about 40 minutes away from Bangkok, for one trimester.
This is a list of notable things that I’ve learned or have happened in these past few days:
- English is not very wide spoken here. I came thinking it would be pretty easy to communicate with the locals, but the truth is that it is not. Which has been a great experience because I’d never felt so unable to communicate with people. I’ve been lost in Bangkok, taken the wrong public bus and told to get off a couple of times, taxi drivers have no idea where I want to go… But somehow, I’ve survived. It has forced me to learn a few useful phrases and get creative in the way I communicate.
- Thai street food is everywhere! This is a great place for me because I am always hungry, and there is food anywhere you go. Also it’s super cheap, about 1 dollar for a meal. Pad Thai is my favorite, and I still have a lot of things I want to try. Something I didn’t expect is that there are plenty of street vendors that sell crepes. I didn’t know that was a thing here… Found that pretty interesting (and delicious). Also, eating a scorpion is on my bucket list.
- Thailand is one of very few countries that require students to use a uniform at university level. It is a very respected outfit, which entails educational responsibility and appropriate behavior. Hence I have to use a uniform! I used to wear one when I was in school, so it has been weird to use one again. Not a fan though. But I guess it’s a part of the experience.
- Thai massages….hurt, in a good way (?). But when you go to Thailand, you have to get a Thai massage. They’re pretty cheap (about 7 dollars for one hour). However, I would NOT recommend getting a Thai massage if you are sore from exercise, because it hurts so much!! But I actually liked it, I felt very relaxed afterwards. Definitely something you have to experience if you come, but be prepared.
- Talking about being sore from exercise…I live in an International house, with 30 other girls. One of them brought a “Brazilian Bum Bum Workout” video, and since we’re planning on going to beaches and stuff, we decided to do it. Every afternoon we play the video and there’s about 15 girls looking pretty funny and trying to imitate our Bum Bum instructor. Definitely great bonding experience, but wow it’s hard.
- About studying (what I “came for”)…Well, the University is really pretty, and it has a lot of resources for international students. My classes are mostly taught by foreigners, and they are really interesting so far. But they last 2 hours, which is too long for my attention span, but I hope I’ll get used to it! Compared to UNC, MUIC is smaller, has a cafeteria that kind of reminds me of my school in Bogotá, and the classes have no more than 20 students, which is nice, but different.