Then and Now: How Studying Abroad Changes You

Studying abroad is an incredible experience that makes you grow tremendously as a person. All of the challenges and experiences you go through teach you new things and new perspectives. And the people you meet help you learn about different countries and cultures. I believe that every student should try to study abroad because you learn about the world and yourself in ways that you never will in your home country.

Before coming abroad I always considered myself a very independent and open-minded person. But coming to Thailand on my own, a completely different country, made me realize that I still had a lot to learn. And while here I did learn a lot. I feel like I can confidently say I am able to adapt to new environments and be more flexible now. When moving to another country you have no choice but to embrace this. I have also learned a lot of the language and now at the end of the semester I can navigate Bangkok and speak Thai for everyday needs. Learning the language of your host country is very important not only because it allows you to be more independent, but also because you pick up on more of the culture of the country’s people as a whole, and allows you to create bonds with the people in your community. It’s been an experience getting over the language barrier– I am now also a master of pointing and talking with my hands.

Exploring Bangkok after school. One of my favorite activities.

Exploring Bangkok after school. One of my favorite activities.

As I learn more about the language and culture, I’ve been feeling more confident in this place I called home. During my time here I have also stumbled upon political and cultural issues that are very controversial. In my opinion, this is still an important part of coming to another country as visitor: trying to understand why things are the way they are, and if you need to, expressing your opinion in a very respectful way. This has made me more tolerant, open-minded and knowledgeable in global issues.

Chiang Rai is a city in the North of Thailand. It is home to many tribes. The most know are the Karen Long neck village

Chiang Rai is a city in North Thailand. It is home to many tribes. The most known is the Karen Long Neck village.

Little girls in Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is a very popular city full of traditions with over 300 Buddhist Temples.

Little girls in Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is a very popular city full of over 300 Buddhist temples.

Additionally, before coming here I had pride in being independent and not needing to ask for help. But being thrown in a completely new country forces you to ask for help and now I’ve learn that that is not a bad thing. This dependency has also opened doors to speak with many people and learn from them.

Krabi Provience is in the South of Thailand here you can find a very different culture than in Bangkok. The majority of Thai Muslims live here so you can find a mixture of cultures.

Krabi Province is in South Thailand. Here you can find a very different culture than in Bangkok. The majority of Thai Muslims live here so you can find a unique mixture of cultures.

Kanchanaburi is in the west of Thailand. It is know for its amazing waterfalls and for being home to the Death Railway were many POW died building it during WWII

Kanchanaburi is in West Thailand. It is know for its amazing waterfalls and for being home to the Death Railway where many POWs died building it during WWII.

One of the things about Thailand that has really captivated me and taught me a lot is seeing how people interact with each other and the sense of community they have. Bangkok is a very hectic city full of people and everyone is always on the go. But if someone is struggling, you see people stop to help, be it local or foreigner. People are always willing to help you even if they don’t speak your language and they are always doing it from their heart. Watching this and living it has taught me many things about compassion and how to always be aware of my surroundings.

I am so blessed and grateful for this opportunity to experience and learn so many things about Thailand. When I get back home I will recommend studying abroad to everyone I know, and tell them about amazing opportunities like the Gilman Scholarship that exist to help you go experience the world.

Bangkok views. The people I meet and everything I learned are going to follow me forever.

A view of Bangkok. The people I’ve met and everything I’ve learned are going to follow me forever.

 

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Filed under Arleen in Thailand, South & Central Asia

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