Third year McIntire School of Commerce student Chun Jiang shares photos from her time abroad while studying at the National University of Singapore. The photos below are from her trip to Thailand!
Christina is a Fourth Year, Global Development Studies major studying abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand with the International Sustainable Development Studies Institute through Kalamazoo College.
My first two weeks in Thailand are off to a good start. I should perhaps start off by introducing my host family…
My host mother is a house mom. She is the cutest person I have ever met. She loves to talk with me and reveal her spattering of English words. She also likes to feed me and teach me how to cook one delicious Thai meal after another.
My host father is part of the Thai Air Force. We hardly talk, but he laughs at me all the time. I know he knows more English than he leads on. He also likes to feed me desserts. I think I have had a different dessert every night the two weeks I have been here. One time I told him I probably shouldn’t eat so many desserts. I think he understood that as I didn’t want to eat desserts at night, so now I just eat them after breakfast.
My host sister, Naan, is my age and studies accounting at Chiang Mai University. She likes shopping and hanging out with friends. She also speaks English very well, and spent four months this past summer in Pennsylvania working at Tropical Smoothie Café.
I also have two host dogs, Nam Dam (Sugar) and Sua (Tiger). Both are very old but very happy. Nam Dam is an inside dog and Sua is an outside dog. Nam Dam cannot bark any more, and just coughs. Sua does not make any noises either, but wags his tail a lot.
I have a host brother, too, but he is in military training in Bangkok, so I have not met him. I sleep in his room, though.
I learned a phrase often used by the Thais – jai yen. It means “cool heart”, or a spirit that faces the world calmly. Thais value the trait of jai yen and attempt to cultivate it in themselves. Thais speak quietly, treat others considerately, and hardly ever honk their car horns – even during the craziness that is Chiang Mai rush hour. In some ways this is preferable to the American mindset, which is often noisy, individualistic and at a fast pace.
We had a retreat this past weekend where we got our first taste of rainforest hiking. We spent a lot of time learning about a caterpillar that lives inside bamboo and that local hill tribe people eat. It was actually pretty interesting. We also swam in a waterfall pool which was just plain awesome.