First Week Review

My first week in Bangkok has been unbelievable. I couldn't be happier that I chose Thailand to study abroad. Here are some highlights:

Happy birthday, Papa!
First and foremost, a special shoutout to my amazing father. His birthday was this week, and with the time change and my hectic schedule, I forgot to give him a call. I know he knows I was busy getting settled in, but I still want to make sure he knows that I am thinking about him always. This picture was taken last summer when Nicolay, my parents, and I went on a breathtaking hike way above the timberline on Mt. Hood. Throughout my whole life, my father has taught and inspired me to live up to my fullest potential. But, more importantly, he has been the best example of what a good man looks like. The way my father cares for and supports me, my sister and, of course, my mother has shown me what kind of respect I deserve and should impart onto my loved ones. Happy birthday to the best dad a girl could ever have.

I had my first two days of orientation on Thursday and Friday. During these two days, we covered all of the do's and do not's of Thammasat, Bangkok and Thailand in general. The catering was incredibly delicious. The staff has all given us the same advice: Study, but not so hard that you don't enjoy your time here. Explore, but not so far that you do things that are dangerous to your person. And have fun, but not so much fun that you lose your head. I've learned something new every day whether it has been about Bangkok, the Thai people, or myself. I can already begin to see how this trip is shaping up to be one of the best experiences of my life.

Meeting the Other Int'l students
I have talked with other international students, and there seems to be a consensus on one thing: It takes a special type of person to want to come study in Bangkok. Everyone here has a taste for adventure and spontaneity, which is why we seem to have all hit it off so well in the first few days. I'm excited to get to know these all of these beautiful people better over the course of the next five months.

Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha
On Friday afternoon, we visited the Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Go to my photo album if you want to see pictures! I have never seen so much gold in my life. The palace used to be where the king lived, and it was incredible extravagant. Because we were Thammasat students, we actually were able to tour the palace itself, which most Thai's even have never seen. We were not allowed to take pictures, but the inside was filled with priceless pieces of art. The walls around the whole grounds were hand painted or hand crafted (meaning someone set every piece of gold or jewel that you see in the pictures) with immaculate attention to detail. The Emerald Buddha was also something that was off limits to cameras, and was just as outstanding. There is nothing like this in the United States, so I got separated from the tour for much of the time. I was in my own world taking pictures, trying my best to capture the beauty of the entire grounds.

Learning Thai
Learning Thai to the best of my ability has definitely been one of the most challenging aspects of being here. In an earlier post, I mentioned that less people than I expected are able to communicate in English. Because of this, the most challenging thing that I usually do every day is try to tell the ticket collector on the bus or the taxi driver where I am trying to go. Luckily, I have an excellent mental map, which I'm sure I have inherited from my father, so I have always been able to find the place that I am looking for without much trouble. One thing that has made me so thankful is that the Thai people in general are extremely kind and willing to work with you. Yesterday, Krissy, Haley and I were on the wrong bus trying to get to a mall downtown. The ticket woman was trying to explain to us where to go, but did not speak much English. A young guy jumped in to translate for us. But that wasn't where his help stopped. He ended up getting on to the same bus that we needed to be on, paid for all of our bus tickets, and then proceeded to draw a map for us so that we would know where to go when we got off the bus. There is a perception of Thailand as being unsafe, but my experience has been that it is not any less safe than other big cities in the world. There are bad eggs for sure, but there are bad eggs everywhere. As long as you use common sense and are polite to people, the Thais are very willing to help you out.

Oh my clubbing, the bars are so fun in Bangkok. One thing I have noticed is that people don't really dance as freely here, but no matter, because the group that I have been clubbing with seems to love to dance. We have gone in large enough groups that anywhere we go is a party. The club we went to last night was on the rooftop of a building in the middle of the touristy area of Bangkok. The cityscape of Bangkok is just phenomenal. It is a perfect blend of old meets new with old temples and new high-rises intermingled around the whole city.


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