noah's Travel Journals


What is the most interesting thing you learned in another culture?

we instead of me

  • 27 years old
  • From Florida, United States
  • Currently in Cusco, Peru

Fall Semester in Thailand with CISabroad

My fall semester studying abroad at Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand.

One Week In!

Thailand Bangkok, Thailand  |  Sep 19, 2011
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 Overall, my first week in Thailand was amazing, and I hope it’s a sign of what’s to come. 

One week over, so many more to go!  It’s been a whirlwind of a first week, arrival, settling in, orientation at the university, and an excursion into Bangkok!  I arrived in Bangkok at about midnight on Monday night with the super helpful CIS staff member, Win, waiting for me.  I also met two other students who are studying at Mahidol University this semester, Allison and Miyuki.  After leaving the airport we were able to drive through Bangkok and admire the city’s lights shining through the night.  After crossing Bangkok’s main river, the Chao Phraya, we arrived in our neighborhood, Salaya which houses our apartments.  All the Mahidol international students stay in three different apartments, Green Park, Chaiyapruek, and Baan Suan.  I am staying in the beautiful Baan Suan housing.  Anyways, we all finally arrived at our apartments by about 3 in the morning that night. 

The next day, Tuesday, I woke up and found out that our apartment has an awesome restaurant situated inside the complex!  So I promptly got ready, and went down to have my official first Thai meal, which consisted of an egg and pork omelet with rice and chili sauce.  But the best part about food in Thailand, besides possessing some of the most delicious tastes and plates in the world, is its price!  Even at the restaurant outside our apartment, most dishes are 30 to 40 Thai Baht, which is about $1.00 to $1.50!   Deliciousness and affordability, two things any student loves hearing, no matter what country they are in.  After breakfast I met some of the other students staying at Baan Suan with me and we set of to the local mall to grab some household supplies for our apartments.  Suprisingly the mall was super clean and westernized, however I haven’t been back there since I found out about the open air market a block down from my apartment.

On Thursday Mahidol held orientation for all the students and basically just went through all the information we need to know concerning visas, academics, etc…   However it provided an opportunity to buy something that I’ve never used before at school, UNIFORMS!  They aren’t really that bad, it just consists of a white button up shirt, a Mahidol Belt, and black pants and shoes.  It’s actually kind of cool to wear a uniform to school, makes you feel a little professional, and nobody has to worry about being cool and whatnot with their clothes.

Then Friday, Mahidol took us on an excursion to the Rose Gardens.  We were able to walk around, look at the gardens, enjoy a delicious lunch (as always), watch an elephant show, and a ‘cultural’ show.  The cultural show was a little disappointing because it was plain to see that it was made for tourists.  They started out by saying that each musician had played their instruments since childhood and had memorized each song they play.  The first song they played: When the Saints Come Marching Home.  Not the most Thai song ever.  They proceeded to show what a wedding is like, muay thai boxing, a novice becoming a Buddha, etc…  However, after discussing it with other international students and a Thai student that came along, we concluded that we would rather see a true Thai performance with traditional dances, and a show that doesn’t end with the musicians playing It’s a Small World and waving American flags around.  But overall the excursion was great and the positives greatly outweighed the negatives. Also, I would like to research more about how elephants are treated here.

On Saturday, it was time for a CIS excursion to the Grand Palace and the awesome Reclining Buddha!  I met up with Win and Bank (another CISer) at Baan Suan and made our way into Bangkok where they showed me around this awesome market that pretty much sat on top of the river and you had to walk on mounds of rice sacks to get around.  We had a lunch of squid curry and thai milk tea then were off to the Grand Palace.  Even though it was sweltering outside, I had to wear jeans because of the dress code which is enforced at the Grand Palace, allowing visitors inside only if they are dressed properly with jeans or pants for men and a proper skirt for women.  Another cool aspect is that entry into any temple and palace is free for Thai people and University students, so if I were to wear my Mahidol uniform to the palace it would have been free for me to enter.  However, as it was, I did not wear the uniform and foreigners have to pay.  The Grand Palace is indescribable.  Beautiful towers and temples dot the site with beautiful paintings showing the Thai Grand Epic along the walls.  Win was able to teach me about Thai history and the background behind Buddhism.  The Thai view on Buddhism and the central aspect of inner peace really appeals to me and I would love to learn more about it.   Also, I am determined to visit as many Thai temples as I can now in order to educate myself more. Finally, I think Buddhist temples are some of the most beautiful parts of Thailand.

Overall, my first week in Thailand was amazing, and I hope it’s a sign of what’s to come, I’m pretty sure it is though.  This week is the first week of classes and I’m super excited to see what they are like!  I have Exploring Global Realities, Microeconomics, Intro to International Organizations, and Introduction to Archaeology.  See you in a week!

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