I’ve now been in Thailand for one week! We’ve been very busy throughout orientation, but I’ve appreciated it because I’ve learned so much. After getting into Chiang Mai late Thursday night, our first day of orientation started Friday morning and it goes until tomorrow, Friday 6/9. For orientation all of the students on fall programs with ISDSI (our host institution) have been staying in the Thunderbird hostel – our program moves into dorms at Payap University tomorrow. Anyways, the weekend orientation was lots of fun. We had some presentations and discussions on expectations and rules and met the staff at ISDSI, but we mainly got to explore the city. We got to visit several temples, check out a few markets, and learn how to use transportation in the city. For some of these outings, we got to spend time with Thai university students- it was really cool learning from and talking with them!
Starting on Monday, we began Thai classes! There are eight students from Kalamazoo College in our program, but to have more one-on-one instruction time, we have two different classes with 4 people. On the first day, we met our Ajaan (professor/teacher) and started into learning material right away. I really enjoy Thai class so far. It’s been tricky but learning it and then using it out of class is really rewarding. We’ve had Thai class in the morning throughout the week and then we have a long break for lunch. We’ve gone to a near by market and gotten Thai food from local vendors- all the food is delicious! In the afternoon, we’ve had more orientation-like sessions. We’ve focused a lot on acting cross-culturally and cultural adjustments. Once class is over, we’ve had mostly free evenings, so I’ve also enjoyed exploring places on our own. We’ve arrived towards the end of rainy season, so it rains pretty often, but it’s still very hot.
I’m having trouble deciding on my highlights because this week was great. However, upon reflection, one of the best parts to this week has been getting to know the people I’m here with. Before departing the US, I was nervous that I didn’t really know anyone, but it”s ended up being fine! A lot of the activities that we’ve done so far – exploring new places, struggling with Thai, and even waiting around at the vaccination clinic- have been enjoyable because of the people I’m with.
For more pictures, check out the “Week One” gallery here!