3 weeks

Time sure flies! It’s been about 3 weeks now since I began my studies abroad. And to think, I was actually having second thoughts shortly before I left! I never thought I’d be able to move to a different country and feel this comfortable doing so.

Back at home I find myself getting lost on a regular basis due to my nearly nonexistent sense of direction, getting frustrated very easily when things don’t go as planned and generally fearing the unfamiliar. Here, I am faced with these challenges almost everyday.

Recently, I mentioned how great it’s been meeting all of these new people but I forgot to also mention how much I’ve enjoyed spending time with myself. Back at home I was so accustomed to working 2 jobs with a full load at school and the little free time I had would be spent doing something with or for someone else. Prior to this I can’t remember the last time I had quality time for myself and it’s quite nice. Eating out alone once in a while, frequently getting lost and exploring new surroundings alone, just to name a few. It’s been fun!

Some photos from the past few days.

08/23/10: Frida & I had a visitor after leaving our balcony doors open.

08/24/10: Been attending Cycling & Hot Yoga classes here at True Fitness just 2 stops away on Sukhumvit via subway. Amazing equipment & facilities.

08/24/10: Marketing Strategy class photo.

08/25/10: Thailand is famous for the food and I’m sure some of you may be wondering why I don’t have many photos of my amazing food yet? Well, it’s because I am still as frugal here, as I was back in the states and despite the food being ridiculously cheap I still cook at home almost everyday during the week because it’s even cheaper! Besides, I find it very relaxing to cook myself a nice meal and enjoying a quite dinner. My Wednesday night dinner.

08/26/10: Feeling very official with my BTS (subway), MRT (skytrain) passes & my student I.D. which looks ridiculous because there is a ‘no showing teeth’ policy!

Headed south to Ko Samet this weekend! Stay tuned for photos!!


Lucky Day

08/18/10: B.B.A held a welcome party for fall 2010 exchange students and I was blown away by the pristine hospitality! Gorgeous venue (Pathumwan Prinecss Hotel), decor, various delectable desserts, plenty of food, cultural performances by the Thai students and of course the performances put on by us, the exchange students. There are approximately 70 of us in the Business faculty this year and we were grouped based on our country and asked to put together a brief performance to represent our country. I enjoyed watching everyone’s presentations, many were very informative and even more were just so much fun to watch! More photos at my flickr & a video of our performance (U.S.A) on my youtube channel.

8/19/2010: Attended my third Thai Language course today and learned how to write my name. I am beginning to grasp the 5 different tones and correctly pronounce a few useful words and phrases. Unfortunately this course is only for one week and I am on my own from there. Hopefully I can pick up more Thai by self studies & friends.

8/20/2010: Another one of my favorite aspects of living here in Bangkok thus far is all the various food carts EVERYWHERE. I have not been able to pass by a fruit cart and not pick up some freshly cut fruit for a mere 20-30 bhat (approx. .60-.70 USD). I am addicted!!
8/21/2010: Joined Haziq & his two new Thai friends, Serena & Song to the Chatuchak weekend market which is one of the world’s largest weekend markets! It was ridiculously chaotic & hot but I enjoyed it very much. You can find a huge variety of products here including: tons of shoes & clothes, household items, Thai handcrafts, religious artifacts, live animals, foods and collectibles. I was not prepared this time because we arrived there quite late around 4pm and they close at 9pm. It’s impossible to just “stroll” through this market because there are things distracting you every inch of the way (at least for me)

I will definitely be frequenting this market during my stay! everyyyything was so darn cute! Clothes, shoes, puppies & even plants! like these below….all of which is dirt cheap!

08/22/2010: Today was indeed my lucky day! As I was anxiously standing in line to board the Chao Phraya River Taxi to the Grand Palace, I felt some warm fluid splatter onto the right side of my face and assumed it was water because it had just rained. Looked up only to discover a pigeon’s behind, and of course realized it had just defecated on me but not to worry because the person in front of me turned around and quickly reassured me that having a bird poop on your head is good luck.

Here is my question of the day then. In what culture is having an airborne animal pooping on your head good luck? Do we say, “Hey, that’s good luck!” to a person who’s newly washed car is christened with bird droppings? Has anyone seen someone running around celebrating “Look, I’m a lucky gal! I’ve been pooped on!” lately? So, where did we get such a crazy kind of superstition? And Frankly… does anyone believe it?

Anyway, bogus or not. I really did feel like a lucky gal because moments later I hopped onto the river taxi and arrived at the breath taking, Grand Palace. Several impressive buildings with beautiful architecture, intricate details and so much history dating back from the early 1780’s. This place was just incredible. We had less than 2 hours there which is definitely not enough to soak it all in so I will definitely be going back! Again, photos on my flickr! Enjoy.

mini meltdown

Today happened to be one of those days where far too many things were going wrong at once and I really felt as though I was going to explode!

Thankfully, I did not.

The obstacles that I encountered were rather trivial such as; missing a few items of my uniform (university pin & belt) and my phone not working (much more frustrating in a foreign environment). Typically these things would be a quick fix because I can just hop in my car and make a few stops…… done!

Of course it didn’t happen that way. Before I was able to fix these issues, I had to bargain with the taxi driver who only speaks Thai of course and settle on a price before heading to MBK shopping center to get my phone checked out. At this time I had about 2 hours before class would begin. Arrived at MBK and frantically circled every floor to find the mobile center which, you guessed it! It was on the very last floor. Headed straight to the first stand I saw and bargained some more to get my phone checked out. Lady tells me to come back in an hour and when I did she requested for another 30 mins. 30 minutes rolls by and of course, they couldn’t fix it. I was then forced to bargain for a new (used) phone and ended up settling with a used first gen iPhone for 6700 bhat (approx 210 USD). Then, I had to grab a taxi to school, purchase a new belt at the book store, hopped on a shuttle half across campus and made it to class about an hour and a half late! So there you have it, my first mini (almost) meltdown.

Usually I don’t complain about such minor things but I think all these rapid changes, lack of sleep & language barriers can be quite frustrating so, to add on a few more complications was a little much on this particular day. But, I managed to make the best of the situation and surely enough everything was dandy.

On to the good stuff.

Here are some photos and brief updates since my last post:

8/12/2010: Experienced Nightlife in Bangkok for the first time at a club called “demo” located in Ekkamai. Music was good, plenty of locals & great company made for a good night.

8/13/2010: Headed to Khao Yai which is approx. 2 hrs. northeast of Thailand. Frida, Haziq and I were invited to spend the weekend with my Thai buddy from school and a few of her friends. On the first day we decided to have a cook-off so we split up in 3 teams and went to the market for some ingredients for our dish as well as food for the weekend. Our team made Seafood Green Curry and though it was on the spicier side, I received many compliments from the Thai’s themselves and was beyond flattered! They were probably just being nice but I’d like to think it was actually not so bad.

8/14/2010: Saturday was spent at Khao Yai’s Adventure park called Bonanza doing activities such as BB guns, shooting arrows, ATVing, canoeing, rock climbing and a few water activities. So many “first’s” in one day!! It was toooo much fun. Overall the weekend spent with locals was very enjoyable and though there was some language barriers among majority of us, everything worked out perfectly and we all learned a lot from each other.

8/15/2010: Bye Bye beautiful Khao Yai.8/16/2010: First Thai Language Class today. Didn’t learn as much as I anticipated but definitely did pick up a few important words/phrases. I shall practice them some more and possibly record a video of myself speaking Thai for your entertainment.

And today. Unfortunately I was so busy being flustered that I didn’t take a single photo today!!! 😦

Welcome party this Wednesday held by the Business Faculty at Chulalongkorn for the exchange students, can’t wait!!!

Hello, I’m Aimi from the U.S.A

The most amazing part of this experience thus far is definitely the various people I’ve encountered and befriended, both the Thai’s and my fellow exchange students from all over the world. It fascinates me to learn about all these different cultures, characteristics, terminologies and misconceptions about each country and their culture. Also, it’s quite funny (sometimes embarrassing) to discover how others view American’s! I will try to get video footage one of these days to share with you all.

Getting back to all the people I’ve met so far. Well, generally speaking the Thai’s are absolutely amazing people!! Prior to my arrival in Thailand I’d always hear how kind and hospitable the people are here but I had to see it for myself and it’s absolutely true. Everyday has been quite a challenge when I have to struggle communicating with people to get around, to order food, to purchase anything, directions, general questions….yea, you get the idea. Thankfully the Thai’s are very patient and willing to help in almost every situation. At school, my Thai classmates are the cutest ever. They are very excited to meet us (exchange students) and share their culture with us. I found this to be consistent in almost every Thai student I’ve met; they are so willing to help us around, teach us their language and share their international experiences with us.

I have yet to meet all the exchange students this semester but I’ve definitely met the majority and they are also wonderful! I’ve truly enjoyed talking to everyone and getting to know so many people who are quite different but at the same time similar in the sense that we have THIS experience/interest in common. Next week our school will have a ‘Welcome Party’ for all the exchange students and I look forward to meeting everyone!!

August 12th is the Queen Sirikit’s Birthday which is also Mother’s day in Thailand. So, no school Thursday or Friday!!! First long weekend and travel plans are in the works. I do plan to travel for the next four days and will update once I return! Destination is still TBA.

Here are photos from the past couple days. Again, you can view the remaining photos at my flickr and watch random vids on my youtube channel. I will try to have more exciting photos & videos but just remember, I am here to study! So, you may not see too many touristy photos & vids until I make time to travel around.

08/10/10: Visited Khlong Toei Post office just before class to drop off some post cards and picked up stamps. This is the nearest post office in the district that I currently live in and it was good to know where it is. Now that I know how to get there, send me your addresses and I will gladly send you a postcard or little something from Thailand.

08/11/10: Met Aimmy in my Business Concepts & Ethics course. Had the opportunity to chat with her for a bit and she was so kind to help me with my Thai counting and some useful phrases.

I will be taking an intensive basic Thai language course offered by our university all of next week and possibly the following week to learn enough to get by (hopefully). I will also create a video of myself sharing what I’ve learned…so come back soon!