I was 100% nervous arriving in Thailand
Arriving in Thailand, I did not know what to expect. This was my first time out of the country (disregarding Mexico and Canada.) Running through my head, I was thinking about who would be in my program cohort. I was also nervous because I was the only one arriving for the second session of the program. Everyone else had already acclimated to Thailand because they were doing the two-month program and had arrived the month before.
Meeting my intern cohort
The moment I got there, I got a message from one of my peers in the group asking if I was free and that they all wanted to get to know me. I was so relieved. They met me at the guesthouse we were all staying at over the weekend, and we all got frozen yogurt. They were all so welcoming and so funny! I knew right then and there that I would fit right in.
On my own, for the first time
I had the day to myself before I went to orientation, so I just walked around and observed. I didn’t know what to expect from Thailand. Was it as scary and foreign as everyone made it seem before I left? I’m from a small town in Ohio. I drive everywhere, I don’t talk to strangers, and I keep my head down when I walk. I stuck to what I know. I always had my parents making sure I was okay and safe. Now it was up to me. I am 21 years old, I can do this! I walked around Chiang Mai, admiring the temples, the people, and the beautiful colors that enveloped the city. The smiling faces around me who were all so eager and that helped me calm down. This isn’t so bad, I said to myself. I went to a beautiful, gorgeous temple in the city that looked hundreds of years old.
I can’t believe I’m actually here, I thought to myself. I am in Thailand, across the world.
I know no one. I kept saying that over and over in my head. This is my time to experience the world. To forget all the troubles I left in the U.S and have the time of my life. Who knows when I will be here again? I bought mango sticky rice from a vendor next to the temple and walked home.
Meeting my homestay family
The next day, I woke up ready to see where I was living and eager to meet my homestay family. As I got in the red truck taxi, I sat in the front seat practicing Thai out loud with the driver. I wanted to learn Thai so badly. The driver seemed to enjoy it, although his English was limited. He kept repeating the words I was saying, but with more emphasis and nodding in approval. It was about an hour drive. As we were driving, the city around us grew distant and trees ended up surrounding us. Where was I going? As we were approaching the village, I saw elephants walking up and down with their owners on the street. I was in awe that this was everyday life for people who live there. My mouth was open, and my nose was pressed up against the window like a little child seeing the amusement park for the first time.
We pulled up to a small house surrounded by tropical trees, bushes, a stream, and overall peace and quiet. I looked at the sign facing the entrance, reading “Maetamann Homestay”. My homestay parent came out and looked at me. We exchanged glances and then she smiled. “Hello,” I said. “Hello,” she responded. Two Chinese students ran up to me, eager to meet me, and introduced themselves to me.
I looked around, breathed a sigh of relief, and thought to myself: