My name is Arleen Rodriguez-Declet and I’m currently participating in the Thai Studies Program at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. Back home I’m majoring in Horticulture at the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus and as I am in my last semester, I decided to give myself the opportunity to study abroad in a completely different country and culture. As I’m writing this, it is another hot and humid afternoon in the so-called “Thai Winter.”
The day before I departed from home I was so excited to arrive and start experiencing Thailand that I didn’t think about anything else. I wasn’t anxious or sad, I was excited, nervous, eager, and impatient. I had a rush of emotions that came crashing down after 26 hours of flying in the airplane. When I arrived in Bangkok all I wanted to do was to sleep. I didn’t think about jet lag but he definitely thought of me.
After sleeping like a baby, the excitement came back and I was ready to explore. Bangkok is such an exciting, lively city, full of smells, colors, and sounds that dazzle you the moment you step outside. The people are wonderful and the food is to die for. I love wandering around the city and getting lost.
So far I’ve been loving the city, the people, and going to university. The courses are interesting and I’m eager to learn in a different environment. I feel like I’m still in the “love everything” stage because I haven’t experienced culture shock or homesickness yet. The only bad things I’ve found so far is that 1) the people here drive like maniacs so you have to be careful crossing the street, and 2) the food is so good that I’ve been eating a little too much.
This is my first week so I’m starting to get more comfortable and used to everything. Now that I’ve settled down I’m starting to set my goals and plans for the upcoming semester. For now the main goals I want to accomplish while I’m here are to immerse myself in the Thai culture and learn the language, to listen to the stories of the people around me, and to travel elsewhere around Southeast Asia (when I find the time in between my classes) to explore the culture of the region as a whole.
I hope you follow me on this exciting journey. Thank you for reading,