KMUTT- BUILD WINTER EXCHANGE 2016
Thailand a country in which I was raised in for 8 years- so you’d wonder why I would go back for an exchange when I could have applied for trips to Japan, America, Switzerland… etc. But the place wasn’t what mattered to me, what mattered to me was going through the experience. Going on academic placement, attending a Thai University and meeting fellow UTS students- these were what intrigued me about this scholarship. The whole process in which lead up to the trip was a whirl wind of disorganization- we didn’t know where we were staying, flights were filling up, and we were all running around the city trying to apply for an educational Thai visa and this all happened during an exam time.
Leading up to the night before the trip my stomach was filled with excitement and anxiety. Touching down in Thailand- it was like coming home; hearing a dialect I had grown up hearing, and speaking Thai after 4 years felt so foreign and yet comfortable at the same time. After a good night’s rest I was ready for what the next two weeks had to bring.
The next two weeks went by in a blur and it seems that the two weeks were all contained into one day. Our university was located out in Thonburi- approximately 1 hour away from the central of the city. The university itself was very open, very different to UTS. The campus itself was like its own little suburb that was fenced off from the rest of the world. The lectures however were very questionable as most of the lectures that the “science” students attended (which were mostly biology based students) were based on physics- much more engineering based. So it was hard to find interest in the lectures they had delivered as most of us had no idea what the lectures were about. The cultural classes however were the best part of the program. Within those classes we got to learn about Thai politeness, words, and even got to make different Thai snacks and wrappings. Those classes I found to be the most beneficial. My favorite cultural class was the Muy thai boxing class in which I just fell in love with and hope to pursue now that I’m back in Sydney; and hope to continue for years to come as I think I have found a new passion. A quick summary for my two week adventures would be we: ran across roads fearing for our dear lives, melted in the hot humidity on the way to get dinner, hopped over fences, went to late night markets to eat caterpillars and crickets, got fake tattoos, did some extreme thai boxing, got massages, took tuk tuk rides, rode motorbikes in the pouring rain, got lost within the city to find some pretty cool lights, went to an amazing restaurant called cabbages and condoms and the list just continues on.
Going to university in Thailand really opened up my eyes to the differences between Asian Culture and Western culture. In Thailand even though it’s scorching hot and you could easily dehydrate, water was not accessible unless you bought it yourself from the convenience store across from the university- this lead to a notice between me and my fellow classmates that we were constantly wasting so much plastic, the more bottles that were bought. You couldn’t possibly drink the water from the tap unless you wanted a stomach ache. Australia on the other hand, has water on tap and accessible to all in all public places through fountains. As water is more of a “right” than a “luxury”. Even in restaurants in Thailand you need to order and pay for water- whilst in Australia when you ask for water in cafes or restaurants; tap water comes for free . Or even Zebra crossings were completely different- in Thailand if you cross the road you’re basically risking your life to get to the other side. Australia however, zebra crossings means cars have to give away to pedestrians. The biggest difference of all would be- money. Everything in Thailand was 1000x cheaper than anything in Australia. Meals that would cause 50$ in Australia cost only 10$ in Thailand. Or even next door to the University was a massage parlor in which a 1 hour massage cost 200 baht (Around 7$) but in Australia a one hour massage would cost you at least 45$. The cost difference was truly amazing- and it makes you wonder what is the minimum wage in Thailand?
What I truly found the best part of this trip were the people, my fellow class mates. During the two weeks abroad I shared experiences with total strangers that transformed them into my friends. We had mid-night talking sessions, played so many thrilling and dramatic games of Mafia (which lead to a lot of betrayal), great dinners out, late night markets, fake tattoos and fun “heads up” games. I met so many kind, caring and intelligent people that I am so grateful to call my friends. This whole trip would have been incomplete without them. I don’t have that many photos to share but to tell you the truth the best moments in life aren’t captured within a photograph because your too busy trying to live it.
Alina Tan Kepple 12016794