For our Friday field trip on 22/11/2019, our class went to the MAIIAM museum as part of our social justice class. The MAIIAM is a privately owned contemporary art museum, so it was able to have some really powerful artwork relating to systemic issues in Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia that wouldn’t have been permitted otherwise. Some of the art critiques the Thai monarchy, land rights issues, globalization/tourism, and other social movements. At the museum, we got to wander around for a few hours looking at all the art, and then we had a class discussion about the art. It was a really interesting day. Afterwards, we had Japanese food for lunch. That evening, me and some of my friends got reading for a short weekend camping trip!
A smaller group of 4 of us had been planning a camping trip the week before, and it paid off as it was a great trip! We went camping at a campsite at Doi Suthep National Park, about an hour away from Chiang Mai. We were able to borrow gear from ISDSI for free and for one night camping it only costed 30 Bhat ($1). We got there early in the day on Saturday to ensure we got a campsite, and then rested for a little while. We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and apples for lunch – both foods we had been missing from home so it was amazing. After getting totally set up, we left to go on a day hike. We got to see several really beautiful view points overlooking Chiang Mai and a small waterfall on our hike. It was a really fun hike. Afterwards, we were able to eat dinner at a restaurant pretty close to our campsite – this called for pretty easy camping. I had Pad Thai! Upon returning to our campsite, we played cards, snacked, and talked and laughed late into the night. It was a much needed change of pace. The next day, we got up around 6:00 am to watch the sunset – however we couldn’t find where the sun was rising. We miscalculated from the night before which was pretty funny. After watching the “sunrise,” we went back to sleep, and then when we woke up again we packed up, had another round of PBJs, and headed down the mountain back to our dorms.
Academically, this week was a big week. This was our second to last week of classes so things are wrapping up – I had 3 different presentations this week. The presentation for Society and Culture of Southeast Asia on Tuesday wasn’t a big deal, but on Thursday (Thanksgiving), we had 10 minute presentations for Thai class and a 30 minute partner presentation for Environment and Sustainability in Southeast Asia. Leading up to Thursday, we all spent a lot of time and energy preparing for these presentations. Overall, study abroad hasn’t been as much work academically as a normal quarter at Kalamazoo College, but we definitely felt the heat this week. Luckily, on Thursday, all 8 of us did great on our Thai presentations! And then afterwards, we did great in our other presentations too!
Along with our presentations on Thursday, Thursday was also Thanksgiving. ISDSI served us Thanksgiving food after our Thai presentations which was really nice, but we were all definitely feeling extra homesick that day. It didn’t really feel like Thanksgiving, but when the photo’s of everyone’s families started showing up, we all felt pretty low. That night, to celebrate Thanksgiving and the successful competition of so many presentations, we went out to a Mexican restaurant. This was pretty fun and raised our spirits considerably. After getting back, we all stayed up very late talking to our families on the phone. Regardless of the homesickness, it was still a good day. I am thankful for all my experiences here and the people who I have met in Thailand, as long as all my friends and family back home!
This was a good week – camping was super enjoyable and Thanksgiving was nice, but I think my true highlight of the week was my Thai presentation. I am just so surprised/proud that I showed up to Thailand not even knowing the Thai word and then this week, I was able to give a 10 minute presentation in Thai. The presentation was a comparison between my family in the US and one of my host families in Thailand. Along with presenting, I also liked listening to my classmate’s presentations about their families. It has been a lot of hard work, but that showed that it’s paid off.
Thank you for reading! Make sure to check out the rest of my photos here!