Week 8: Exploring and Hiking

Summary:

Getting back on track with my planned updates! For our Friday expedition on 18/10, we visited the non-profit organization ECHO Asia. ECHO is an international NGO that “exists to equip and empower workers in agriculture and community development so that they can be more effective in their work with smallholder farmers” – in doing so, they hope to improve food security, food sovereignty, and livelihoods to the communities they support. To start the day, we got to learn about what ECHO does – it was pretty cool as it aligned well with our current class work. Then we got to tour their Chiang Mai Impact Center. There we got to check out all kinds of research projects they’re working on and go into their seed bank. I especially liked seeing this seed bank and learning about how they make saving seeds more accessible to rural farmers. The technology they had in their seed bank to preserve seeds costs thousands of dollars, but through different experiments, they found a method to save seeds with just a bike pump and some special plastic bags. After lunch, we got to participate in cleaning seeds – preparing them to be saved, and in germinating seeds. It was pretty hot, but overall, it was a good outing. That night, I went to see the movie Maleficent 2 with some K students and Thai friends. It was so fun! The movie theater we went to was inside a mall- it was huge. The tickets were cheap and I got to eat some popcorn! I’ve started to miss American food a bit. Anyways, the movie was in English with Thai subtitles – it was a pretty good movie and a fun night in general!

Seed germination workshop at ECHO Asia

This was a busy weekend! On Saturday, we went on a hike at Huay Tueng Tao Lake. There’s tons of beautiful nature near Chiang Mai, but getting there has sometimes been a challenge for us. However, Huay Tueng Tao Lake was only 8 miles away from our dorms so we were able to Grab there. We found the trail head we read about online fairly easy, however from there we had a pretty hard time. Our plan was to go on a waterfall loop hike, but there wasn’t much signage and there were tons of trails to go on. The hiking was beautiful – I don’t think I’ll ever get used to hiking in a jungle. Eventually, we stumbled upon an amazing view point. We could see the whole city and there was a bamboo hand constructed that made for some really cool photos. After a bit more hiking we found a small waterfall, though I’m still not sure if that was the waterfall we meant to find! After sitting with our feet in the water for a bit, we backtracked back to the trail head. Even if not what we intended to do, it was a great hike! That night, we checked out a popular jazz-bar in the city- listened to music and stopped at a few more places. I spend that Sunday relaxing and working on schoolwork.

Jumping at the view point we found!

The rest of the week was routine as expected. I still love Thai class, and we learned so much vocab this week! Thai has been challenging, but it is so cool being able to see the progress I’m making. My other classes are still going well. Outside of classes, I’ve gone to the gym and the store. A few of my friends and I are trying to do more after classes as we have a lot of time and want to experience more. On Wednesday we went to the Chiang Mai Student Market – this is a huge market over by one of the other universities here that had lots of clothing. That was cool to check out even though I ended up not buying anything. Also this week, we went to get manicures and on Thursday night, ISDSI had a pizza party for the participants. This was a great week and I’m glad to keep making an effort to do more things.

Highlights:

One highlight for me this week is just that I’ve had lots of small victories in Thai. I’m able to understand more Thai out of class than ever and I’ve been speaking a lot faster. In Thai class, we learned lots of vocab including time words and days of the week, daily activities words, and some more adjectives and tense words. This has really improved what I can talk about and understand so that’s been great.

Also, another highlight this week was the hike at Huay Tueng Tao. I always love getting outside and the hike itself blew my expectations. This the lake itself is a pretty touristy spot, yet we didn’t run into many people on the hike and we saw virtually no trash. The area was well taken care of and it felt like we had the whole hillside to ourselves. The viewpoint we found was beautiful, and anytime I plan an outing that goes well, it feels like a big success.

On our hike by Huay Tueng Tao 🙂

Thank you for reading! As usual, be sure to check out the rest of the pictures from this week here.

Week 6/7: A Day in the Life on the K Thailand Program

Hello – it’s been a little while since my last post. Since arriving back to Payap University from my first home stay in a village, I have been busier with school and have a pretty regular routine. It’s been a nice two weeks with some new things here and there, but for this post, I’ve decided to go in depth to one day here. I hope you enjoy it!

Before Class: On weekdays I wake up at 7:30 am! Sometimes I lay in bed a few minutes past my alarm, but with the morning heat, it makes it hard to stay in bed too late. We do have AC in the dorm rooms but it gets too cold at night. Anyways, our school uniforms make getting dressed in the morning a breeze. I wear a white button-up short sleeve shirt and a longer black skirt to school – wearing skirts all the time was a bit of an adjustment, but I actually really like the uniform! Anyways, then I head down to breakfast from the cafeteria. The cafeteria is on the first floor of our dorm building which is very convenient. Breakfast is a buffet style food line usually equipped with a classic Thai food – either Pad Thai or fried rice, some kind of egg, toast, fruit, and coffee. After breakfast, I either bike or walk to school. We (students from K) tend to get to school 15 – 20 minutes early, so we sit at tables in the commons area and study Thai.

Above: Reviewing Thai in the commons of the building before class

Thai Class: I have Thai class from 9:30 am to 11:30 am from Monday through Thursdays. I really enjoy Thai class! My class has four students and one teacher in it so we have a lot of time for personal instruction. Our class is very conversation based with additional focus on reading and writing. It’s really cool learning something in the classroom and then using it in conversation so soon after. The class is structured so that we have quizzes every Monday with additional tests and projects every few weeks.

My Thai Classroom!

Lunch: We have a 1.5 hour break for lunch before our afternoon class. Usually I go to our campus “food canteen” for lunch. The canteen is a cluster of small restaurants with a common sitting area in the middle all under a roofed area. There’s a good selection of food to get for great prices, but I typically go to one place for my lunch. The owners are very kind and they help us with Thai – not to mention their food is great! Anyways there’s also places to get smoothies or bubble tea, and there’s food carts near by with lots of good desserts. I tend to hang out at the canteen for the whole lunch unless I need to go over a presentation or study with a classmate.

Left: My favorite treat from a cart by the canteen. Right: Walking to afternoon class.

Afternoon Class: K students take 3 additional classes in the afternoon. Each class meets once per week from 1 – 3. We take a social justice course, a course on societies and culture of Southeast Asia, and a course on environmental sustainability. Each class has been very interesting so far, and because our class is so small, they involve lots of discussion.

Classroom for my environmental sustainability class

Evening: After classes, I go back to my dorm, change out of my school uniform, and relax a bit before starting hw. I’ll watch TV (Thai Netflix has so many fun things on it), workout at the gym, or bike to a cafe near by. We eat dinner in the cafeteria of our dorm building – they normally serve rice with another dish and fruit. We eat a lot of guava, dragon fruit, pineapple, and watermelon here. There’s a 7-11 pretty close to our dorm, so after dinner, we often walk to 7-11 to get an ice cream bar or other snack. Afterwards, I start on my homework. For Thai, we’ll have a worksheet or something similar, but I also have to study it a lot. I have made so many flashcards since I’ve been here. The other classes give out homework, but not too much. Since the classes meet once per week, I usually do that homework on the weekends. After homework, I just hangout until it’s time for bed.

Ice cream snack in the evening 🙂

This has been a day in the life on my study abroad program. The weekends tend to look pretty different. On Fridays we go on field trips to somewhere in the area – last week we went to a paper making village. On the weekends we are free to do whatever – it’s been fun finding hikes to go on and new parts of the city to explore! For more pictures, be sure to check out my pictures page here!

Week 5: Pai and Donjiang Village Homestay!

A lot has happened since my post last week! We had a 3 day weekend so I visited Pai (small touristy city north of Chiang Mai) and then starting Monday, we went to our first 1 week homestay in a organic farming village. Now I’m on the grid with plenty to share!

Image result for chiang mai to pai road
An aerial view of some of the road to Pai. So many turns! Photo from here

Pai Summary:

I was on the bus heading to by at 6:30 am 27/9. The bus ride there was about 3 hours long but with all the huge curves on the way, it felt like a lot longer. Upon arriving to Pai we found out the road connecting Pai with Chiang Mai had 762 curves- it was crazy. We got there around 9:30 am and were pretty tired as we couldn’t sleep on the bus as I had planned to. Anyways, once we made it there we had a few hours before we could check into our hostel. We hung out at a cafe and walked around for a bit. Pai is a really beautiful place. The town, while very touristy, gives off a welcoming vibe and is surrounded by forests and beautiful mountains. Upon checking into the hostel, I napped and hung out for awhile. In the evening we explored Pai Walking Street – an evening street market, and listened to live music at a bar.

View from walking around Pai

We fit a lot of activities into Saturday. Pai doesn’t have public transportation or Grab (Thai Uber), so we struggled to get around as many of the attractions are a ways from the city. We found out that one of our friend’s dad’s owns a tour company, so we got to spend the day on one of his tours and with our friend! We got to visit natural hot springs, an amazing view point, an attraction called Chinese Village, Pai’s famous White Buddha, several cute coffee shops, the Bamboo Bridge, and the Pai Canyon. We made it to Pai Canyon just in time to watch the sunset. It was amazing! Afterwards, we went out to eat with our Thai friend and spent more time on Walking Street. I have so many pictures from this day – you’ll have to check them out on the “pictures” page. There was so all kinds of good street food and at one point we found ourselves at a fire show. On Sunday after checking out of our hostel, we had a few hours to spend before getting on the bus back to Chiang Mai. I walked around Pai some more with a few friends- we stopped in some more cafes and shops and had popsicles from 7-11. The bus back to Chiang Mai was just as curvy as before but didn’t feel quite as bad because I knew what to expect! Once back at my dorm it was a quick transition to unpack and repack as on Monday morning we were heading to a village.

Pai Canyon for Sunset
One of the coffee shops we stopped at “I Love You Pai”

Donjiang Village Summary:

Starting on Monday, we went to our first homestay at a village in an organic and subsistence farming community called Donjiang. The food that I ate with my family, including sugar, rice, and meats, came exclusively from their farm or from their neighbors – it was really cool to see and I learned a lot! My host family consisted of a mom, dad, and older brother. The language barrier was difficult at times but I was really impressed with how much I could communicate with them. The routine for the week was pretty consistent. In the mornings, I would work on my family’s subsistence farm. I got to water, transplant plants, apply fertilizer/pesticides, and feed livestock. We’d also take lots of breaks and have funny Thai conversations. After lunch, all of the K students would learn about something else about the way of life in the village. We made organic pesticides, tea, tofu, and also helped our host family with preparing their surplus goods to sell.

View of my family’s plot from the road
Rice fields from evening walk around the village

On Thursday, we got to go into the city to sell our family’s produce at the Chiang Mai Organic Market. We had a pretty early morning as it was a little over an hour drive to the market – we rode in the back of a pickup truck there (modified with benches and handholds). Once at the market, we helped our families set up their tables and worked at their station. I enjoyed seeing how the farmers engaged with their customers and I really got a strong sense of community among the farmers. There wasn’t competition between different booths, and people would help their neighboring booths happily. Sometimes my host mom would go to take care of something, but when I needed help interacting with a customer, the lady next to us would help me. It was a long day at the market, but between the Thai I got to speak, yummy snacks I tried, and observations I got to make, it was one of my favorite days in the village.

We had a farewell dinner the night before we left Donjiang that was a potluck style with all the K students and host families. We helped our families prepare a dish – I made Yum Woon Sen. I liked eating many different Northern Thai dishes I haven’t seen much in the city and talking and laughing with everyone. We presented these little posters in pairs about what we learned during our time there. On my poster, we talked about how we learned and improved our Thai, saw a sustainable “zero-waste” system in action community wide, gained good insight to organic farming and the culture, and experienced the market from a farmer’s perspective. It was really cool all around and definitely enhanced my studies at Payap University. I really liked talking with my host family and was impressed at how well we were able to communicate. On Saturday, we had some bittersweet goodbyes. While sad to leave, I was ready to get back to the dorms and continue with classes.

Farewell Dinner in the Village

Highlights:

This whole week was very action packed! In Pai, my favorite part of the trip was the Pai tour we did as we got to see so many attractions and it was so beautiful. However, the highlight of this week for me was definitely getting to know my host family. They were so kind and worked really hard to speak in terms that we could understand. When I messed up we would just laugh about it and try again. I especially enjoyed breaks we would take working on the farm with our host mom – we’d chat and ask lots of questions. It was fun, and I’ve also noticed a big jump in the speed that I can speak and listen to Thai.

With my host parents

Thank you for reading! I’ve gotten a bit behind my usual schedule, but I’m working on getting back on track! For more photos, check out this page!

Week 4: Elephants and Rainy Season Hiking

Summary:

On Friday, 20/9, for our Friday field trip, we got to visit Patara Elephant Farm. It was a really great day! First, we got time to hang out with some baby elephants and their moms while waiting for the whole group to arrive. The baby elephants were so friendly and loved playing with us – if you sat down on the ground they would just sit on you! Then we had an introduction to the mission of Patara Elephant Farm and learned more in-depth about the different sides and agendas people have with elephant tourism. Before coming here, I had heard a lot of negative things about some elephant tourism establishments, many of which are true; however, I loved getting to learn about elephants and support a company that so passionately cares for elephants. Before Friday, we had to do a lot of research about different kinds of elephant tourism – I’ll attach the links to the most helpful articles below. Anyways, after learning about how to take care of elephants, we actually got to do it. Our group split off into pairs- each pair got to take care of an elephant for the rest of the day. My roommate and I took care of an elephant named Toe Kae and her baby. We assisted in feeding them, brushing them, watering them, exercising them, and then bathing them at the end of the day. It was incredible to be with such large, gentle animals and I learned a lot. More photos can be found on the photos page.

Meeting the elephants at Patara Elephant Farm!

On Saturday, our group went on an optional hike with ISDSI to Doi Suthep, one of the most well known temples in Chiang Mai. We hiked on Monk’s Trail – before reaching the temple, we got to see Pad Laad Temple. We stopped by one of the many waterfalls along the way for lunch, and several hours later, we finished the hike to Doi Suthep. As it is rainy season here, we got got in a very heavy thunder and lightning storm for about an hour- it was pretty intense but also fun! The trail became like walking up stream as we hiked up the side of the mountain. I loved hiking through the rain forest as it was actually raining. The changes we saw just in that day before the rain vs during the downpour vs after were incredible. It was a long day so after a 5 mile hike, he group I was with decided not to visit the temple that day, but we will go back! I spent the rest of the weekend working on homework and relaxing – I prepared a presentation on Vietnam for my Societies and Culture of South East Asia class and studied Thai. It was a busy but enjoyable weekend.

View during hike to Pad Laad Temple

The rest of the week was pretty normal. My classes are still going well – though we did have our first Thai test. This was a “tone” test which involved reading and pronouncing words. I spent a lot of time working on memorizing tone rules – took the test today and survived! Today (Thursday), we got to visit a hotel pool after the test since we don’t have afternoon classes. I enjoyed swimming around in it after a long week.

I expect this upcoming week to be very busy! This weekend, we are going to visit Pai, and on Monday, we are going to our first home stay in a village. I will be off the grid working on a farm and learning about sustainable agriculture for a week! You can expect the post about my experience early during the week of October 7!

Highlights:

This week the big highlight for me was our visit to Patara Elephant Farm. Elephants have always been one of my favorite animals, and it was really special for me to work with one up close. Toe Kae was a delight to work with and she and her baby showed so much personality. I’m grateful I got to have this experience! It’s hard for me to explain with words so here are a few more pictures!

Kalamazoo College students
Learning how to brush Toe Kae with leaf bunches
Moms and babies at Patara Elephant Farm

Thank you for reading! Below are a few links to Patara Elephant Farm and articles about elephant tourism in Thailand.

https://www.pataraelephantfarm.com/

“The Cost of Elephant Tourism

“Congratulations you Boycotted An Elephant Camp, Now What Happens?”

“In Thailand, You Can Ride an Elephant. But Should You?”

Week 3: Waterfalls, Temples, New Normals

Summary:

Wow I can’t believe it’s already been another week since my last entry! On Friday (13/9), we went on our first Friday excursion to some museums and temples – we go on these trips each Friday instead of normal classes. For the first half of the day we got to visit the history, art, and folklore museums of Chiang Mai. I learned a lot of important historical context for how the city operates today. After lunch, we went to Wat Suan Dok, one of the more famous temples in the city. I’ve learned a lot about Buddhism since coming here, and Wat Suan Dok was a great place to learn more history, walk around the beautiful temple grounds, and even meditate for a little while. I took lots of photos on that day – they’ll be up on the photos page!

On the Friday trip at Wat Suan Dok!

The rest of the weekend was good! On the weekends, ISDSI hosts optional activities for all of the program participants – Saturday was cooking class! We learned how to make food at 6 different stations taught by Ajaans. It was really fun cooking Thai food and we also had quite a filling lunch. Some of what we learned included pad see ew, papaya salad, spicy pork salad, and a banana-coconut milk dessert (not sure of the dishes’ English names). In the afternoon, I hung out at a park and at the dorms. On Sunday, we wanted to get out in nature so we went to visit Mae Sa Waterfalls! Mae Sa was about an hour drive from the dorms – the hike covers a series of 10 waterfalls, 5 of which you can swim in. Our group took a songthaew there and spent several hours hiking and swimming. While I’ve seen waterfalls before, I was blown away at how pretty they were and how fun it was to swim in them. The water was warm and not very deep. We got there pretty early so we had one of the falls to ourselves for awhile. It was a great outing! I spent the rest of my weekend finishing up homework and preparing for the upcoming week.

Mae Sa Waterfall – photo by Kelly

School has become a new normal for me so I don’t have much to write about right now. I still love Thai class and can not believe how much Thai I’ve learned so far. I’ll post soon with more details on that. For our lunch break we’ve been going to the same vendor in the food court area. It’s like we’re regulars there now; the women who run the place are so nice to talk to and they help us practice Thai – their food is great too! My afternoon classes have been going okay too – starting to get projects and assignments but they should all be interesting. After class I’ll bike around a bit or study in a cafe. I still really like biking too! Today after class, since on Thursdays we don’t have afternoon class, we got to go to a market and sporting goods store to purchase gear we need for ISDSI outings. Tomorrow for our Friday outing we’re going to visit an elephant farm – check back next week to hear about it!

Highlights:

My highlight this week was the trip to the Mae Sa Waterfalls. It’s been pretty hot here so it was so refreshing be able to swim somewhere – in waterfalls no less! I hadn’t really left the city since I’ve been in Chiang Mai, so I loved getting to see some of the nature surrounding the city. It was also really cool because this was an outing we planned for ourselves- and it worked out! The transportation was easy and cheap thanks to our favorite songthaew driver, the waterfalls were better than I could have imagined, and it wasn’t too crowded when we got there. The whole trip costed less than 6 USD. It was a successful trip and a really fun time!

Behind Mae Sa Waterfall – photo by Kelly
Swimming! Photo by Kelly
Hiking! Photo by Kelly 🙂

Thanks for reading! More pictures can be found here!

Week 2: Settling in at Payap University

Summary:

It has been a busy week! Last Friday we got to switch from staying in a hostel for orientation week to moving into our dorms at Payap University. It was so nice to unpack our suitcases! ISDSI provided us with bedding and bikes, helmets, and locks for getting around. There was still a lot of things we needed for our dorms so on Friday night we all went to the mall. On Saturday we got to sleep without setting an alarm – not sure I’m totally adjusted here as I still get up pretty early. My roommate and I decided to go exploring around campus to find something for breakfast. We get meals from the cafeteria in our dorm building weekdays for breakfast and dinner, but on weekends, we’re on our own. Payap University is bigger than I expected! The campus is beautiful- lots of water features and nice buildings, but after walking around in the sun for awhile, we understood why they gave us bikes! We found some street food and after some amateur exchanges in Thai, we had a great breakfast. One thing I’ve noticed here is that there isn’t necessarily “breakfast food”. At home, I love having oatmeal for breakfast- here our cafeteria serves dishes like fried rice and pad thai for breakfast. It’s all good, just something I didn’t think about much before I arrived. We spent a lot of the weekend learning things like this and exploring on our own. On Saturday afternoon, we ended up walking around Old City for awhile – went into some shops and markets. On Sunday, I did laundry, finished unpacking, and relaxed a bit. In the evening we went back to the mall to get more dorm necessities and to stack up on snacks – all geared up for the next week of classes!

Walking around Old City on the weekend

Our weekdays are structured to be pretty similar. In the morning we eat breakfast in the dorm cafeteria and then bike to Thai class. We have our same Ajaans and classmates as orientation week, but now our classes take place on Payap’s campus. I still really like Thai class – though it has been getting more difficult. After Thai class we have a 1.5 hr break for lunch. There’s a food court on campus that has a group of restaurants that sell Thai food, smoothies, bubble tea, and desserts. I get food and eat there for awhile – then sometimes go to study or hang in a building with AC. Aside from Thai class, we have 3 other classes: on Mondays I have Becoming a Change Maker (social justice course), on Tuesdays I have Societies and Cultures of Southeast Asia, and on Wednesdays I have Sustainability and the Environment in Thailand and Southeast Asia. I’m excited about all of my classes – our first sessions were really interesting. After class, I bike back to the dorms to change out of my school uniform and unwind a bit. One day, I went with a few other K students to the gym. The gym is small but we still had a good time and got a workout in. After class, I’ve also biked around the area some more, visited a few cafes, and of course worked on Thai HW lots!

On Thursdays (which is the day I’m writing this), we don’t have afternoon classes so we have even more free time. After dinner in the cafeteria, we went to check out the Night Bizarre scene in Chiang Mai. This was one of the more tourist-y places we’ve visited so far. There was lots of beautiful lights, live music, and more vendor booths than a person could possibly look at. On Fridays we don’t have classes, but we have field trips to somewhere around the city that will relate to our curriculum. Tomorrow, we’re visiting a few more museums and another temple to learn more historical context of Chiang Mai – I’ll write about it in next week’s post!

Highlights:

One big highlight for me has just been getting situated in a dorm. It’s really nice to have my own space and to have a sense of home (especially compared to staying in the hostel last week). The set up here is really nice, and it’s been fun walking through markets looking for things to decorate our dorms with. My room is still kinda barren but I’ll upload photos of it eventually!

Aside from moving into dorms, it’s been really fun to have bikes. The campus is large and spread out, so it’s been great biking to classes – it makes transportation time much faster. I’ve most enjoyed getting to ride around and see places I might not have gotten to on foot. It’s a funny sight to see Americans riding around on a bikes with a helmets while many Thai people whiz by us on motor bikes or incars. Regardless, I appreciate being able to explore my surroundings better. I’ve already had a few moments of being lost, but thanks to my Thai phone, I’ve made it back to my dorm each time!

My bike in the parking structure with what most people ride.

Thank you for reading! You can see more of my photos from this week (and others) here!

Week 1: Orientation

Summary:

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.

Kalamazoo College Students on the first day of class (Fall 2019).

Highlights:

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!

First Few Days in Thailand

View from airplane as approaching Incheon International Airport

I’ve been in Thailand for almost a week. Traveling here was pretty grueling, but it has been very worth the long journey! I left my home in Hood River at 2:30 am on Wednesday, August 28th. After checking my bags, getting through security, I got on my first flight from PDX to LAX. I was exhausted and had a long lay-over, so I slept on the floor for awhile. Also in LA, I met up with another K student — we got to fly on the next flight, our next one was to Seoul, South Korea. The flight was about 14 hours long- I passed the time sleeping, coloring, and watching TV. It was a quick turn-over for us after we landed in Seoul! We had to speed straight to our gate, and we got there as the flight was finishing boarding. On the plane, we met up with the other six students from K. It was nice to see more friendly faces for the last 5 hour fight to Chiang Mai.

One airplane meal on the long flight

Once in Chiang Mai, we finished going through customs and got our luggage with ease! Staff from ISDSI greeted us at the airport. They arranged for us to ride in a really cool hostel that we’re staying at during orientation — we got there around midnight and we all went to bed right away. Jet lag has been weird to experience so we’ve been resting lots. Songthaews (red truck like transportation) to a really cool hostel that we’re staying at during orientation — we got there around midnight and all went to bed right away. Jet lag has been weird to experience so we’ve been resting lots.

Many of the ISDSI Fall 2019 program students at the Chiang Mai International Airport

Since arriving, we have stayed very busy. We’ve had orientation-like lessons and activities with ISDSI that included going to get Thai SIM cards and phones, registering with the hospital, and getting necessities in the market. ISDSI had also scheduled other activities and destinations around Chiang Mai into orientation so we have visited markets, temples, and malls. It’s been awesome learning and getting to see some of Chiang Mai!

On Monday, we began Thai classes in the morning and continued with orientation in the afternoon. We started wearing uniforms which has been fun so far. Below I’ve included a few photos from some of our outings. Check out the pictures page for more soon!

Wat Phra Singh Temple. Chiang Mai, Thailand.
View of Songthaew and road from the back of a Songthaew.
Sunday Night Market (before the crowds arrived).
Side of pagoda at Wat Chiang Mun Temple. Chiang Mai, Thailand.
All 8 K students with first day of class uniforms (Fall 2019).
First day of Thai classes (Fall 2019).

Thank you for reading my first official entry! Check back soon for my next post. I’ll publish most of my posts on Thursdays!

Learning Thai post 1

The integration of Thai language and culture is an important component of the K Chiang Mai program. To gain a deeper understanding of the culture and have stronger, more equal communication while in Thailand, students take immersive Thai language classes. By the end of the program, students are able to communicate in everyday settings with basic Thai. This can seem a little daunting as most students go into the program without knowing Thai, so on this page, I’ll document what the Thai learning process is like for me. I hope this will make it seem less abstract for students who are interested in the program in the future. I’ll be adding more posts to this page about once per week once I begin classes!