Hello! It has been awhile, in fact, I’m actually back in the US as I’m writing this! The last few weeks of my time in Thailand were wonderful, and I found myself trying to soak up the last of my experience rather than write about it. This post is about my last few weeks at my internship at Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures (CMRCA), as well as “Wrap Up Week,” the week that I had to work on my final assignments, pack up, etc…
Part 1: Internship
My internship was a really great and educational experience for me. I enjoyed my time in the field and got to meet a lot of really great, out doorsy people. For my last few weeks with CMRCA , I was working in the office, taking care of feedback from the school programs and working on future lesson plans. It was okay, though I did have a lot of sitting time in the office. This was my first time in a “full-time” (for five weeks, at least) position, and I learned about what it means to go to work all day, take care of my apartment and myself, and try to stay connected with friends. It was kind of hard to balance sometimes, but in general, I did managed it well and had some good times! I got off work at 5pm and would often do something in the Old City before heading back to my apartment or meet up with friends after work. I went to the night bizarre quite a few times which was fun. On the weekends, I would hang out with friends- we’d go to Chiang Mai’s amazing night markets and attractions. On my last weekend of the program, I went with my friend (and ex-roommate) Emily on a trip to Chiang Dao, a small town north of Chiang Mai.
During the end of the program, it was a bit harder to decide of things to do. On the weekend for example, I found myself asking myself “should I try to take in the last of Chiang Mai, or should I still keep checking out new places.” It was also strange because I’d be doing something I’d done many times before, like the soup visiting the shop next to work or walking down a certain street, and I’d realize “oh wow this is probably the last time I’m going to be doing this for at least a very long time.” Anyways, Emily and I decided to spend our last weekend seeing something new, and I’m so glad that we did! Our weekend in Chiang Dao was amazing! We took the bus there on Saturday morning (for the equivalent of $1.33) and stayed until Sunday afternoon. The town is at the base of beautiful, distinctive mountains and everything about it was great. On Saturday, we went to the Chiang Dao Cave and some hot springs. I’m so glad we took the time to check it out. Then, on Sunday, we visited “waterfall.” This waterfall was “sticky” so we got to walk up it. It was so fun. We could have spent the whole day there, but eventually, we had to head back to our wrap up week back in Chiang Mai.
Part 2: Wrap Up Week
We spent the last week of our program in Thailand (though I did elect to stay a week after program, read about it here) finishing up assignments and trying to say goodbye to the city that now feels like home. It was a pretty emotional and very busy week. We had two important deadlines: a 10 – 15 research paper relating to our internship due on Thursday, and a 15 minute presentation about our research on Friday). We were given a lot of free time to work on our assignments. We also had a “re-entry” workshop in which we started thinking about returning home: reverse culture shock, readjustment, applying what we learned in Thailand in the US, etc… It was helpful to start thinking about those sort of things before landing back in the US. I spent many hours working on my assignments in different cafes. My research paper was about the accessibility of outdoor education, specifically in the Thai context. Outside of research, I would revisit my favorite places in the city and work on the packing process. Friday came up so fast! My presentation went well (I think – still no grade back but it’s probably fine).
On Friday, I got to say goodbye to my school uniform, to ISDSI, and to a lot of the people I’d gotten to know here. In the evening, we had a farewell/thank you dinner. It was nice to see our teachers from Payap, ISDSI staff, Thai friends, and people from our internships all in one place, but it was also sad. At the dinner, I most enjoyed reconnecting with my Thai teacher who I hadn’t seen since December. On Saturday, five of the K students got on their flights back home (3 of us chose to stay another week). Before they did that though, we did have time to hang out with our program coordinator one last time. She had become really close to all of us and was always such a beacon of light for me. We went to lunch with her and then checked out a beautiful spot on Chiang Mai University’s campus. It was a pleasant way to end the week. On Saturday afternoon, I had to say goodbye to our coordinator and my 5 peers, as Emily and I were headed off on our last one week adventure. I am extremely thankful that I grew so close with Chiang Mai and a few of the people here- this was an incredible experience- however, it sure made for some sad goodbyes. As we liked to say, they were’t necessarily goodbyes, they were “see yous.” I hope that I can return to Thailand sometime in my future.