Greetings from Thailand: Let the adventures begin
I have finally arrived in Thailand and so far I have primarily been a tourist.
I saw elephants in Ayutthaya, both an adult and a baby. The temples are huge with statues of Buddha, at least 80 feet tall. I also got the chance to get in a ring and practice Muay Thai with a national champion. We stayed at a guesthouse in Pimai. I tried speaking to the owner, Pisu, in Thai.
Pisu was nice. She taught me how to count to 100. I told her she was beautiful, she said I was handsome. I didn’t know how to say anything else in Thai. Pisu let me ride her motorcycle and I almost crashed on the road. I briefly forgot that you drive on the left side of the road in Thailand.
The party street near my home is Khaosan Road. It is full of danger. Danger as in it’s the tourist party strip where all the vacationing white people go. Locals take advantage of ‘fob’ farangs, so us farangs need to be careful. It is fun if you want a lot of cheap beer and get tricked into seeing a ping-pong show, for sure. Overall, the people are really nice and smile all the time.
The language barrier is the hardest part about being in Thailand. It is extremely difficult to navigate without the basic ability to communicate. I feel embarrassed, my face sweats profusely, and sometimes people switch to English without asking just to end the awkwardness. It’s relieving when this happens, but it is quite humbling. I have only studied the language for four days, but I feel like I learned a great amount in such a short amount of time. I’d like to learn about 40 words per week. With that, I should know roughly 500 words at the end of 12 weeks.
Overall, this trip is proving to be highly fulfilling. I am really excited to be here and end up smiling randomly for what seems like no reason. This feeling is the first part of culture shock. Stage two isn’t far away. For those who are unaware, stage two of culture shock is the dark and depressing point that follows the initial excitement and euphoria. I want to counter this as much as I can by doing fun things and staying cheerful. Luckily, Americans surround me, so home is only a few feet away.
There is a downside to this convenience. There will be much temptation to withdraw from immersion. I haven’t started classes yet, so I don’t know how influential those will be. There are a couple street vendors near my dorm that will hopefully be able to witness my improvements. I know how to say ‘I’ll have one’ and ‘delicious’. I’d like to learn Thai quickly, build on my current skills, and be able to navigate when people come to visit me. Hopefully, I will be able to get through normal everyday situations by the time the program ends.