March 8th, 2011

Tristan Thibodeaux in Bangkok, Thailand

My name is Tristan Thibodeaux and I am a Junior at UALR. I am currently studying in Bangkok, Thailand through a program called World Endeavors. I learned about this opportunity through the study abroad office on campus, and was helped through the application process by Ms. Aimee Jones, the Programs Abroad Coordinator at UALR. Honestly, the application process was a breeze and preparing for my trip was nowhere near as much work as I originally imagined. Ms. Jones has been a valuable resource throughout my journey, from preparing for departure to helping with any issues that arise back on campus.

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Thailand has been an amazing experience thus far. The Thai people are kind and laid back, and Bangkok is truly a world apart from Arkansas. It is strange to think that right now there are more people within a 5 mile radius than in the entire state of Arkansas. The food is amazing, and life in general is good. I will be studying at Mahidol University but since they are on a different schedule than UALR my classes will not begin until April.

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Right now I am in intensive Thai language classes. I study from 9-12 everyday. Thai is a very hard language but I feel my Thai is coming along. Its funny, because when I first arrived hearing the Thais speak to each other in Thai was very cool. When you do not understand what is being said around you it appears that everything they say is very important and meaningful. Now that I can understand some of what I hear I have been disappointed to learn that Thai people’s conversations are often as mundane as ours are back home. While a place and a language may be different people are pretty much the same everywhere.

I arrived in January, and within three days I had job offers from various schools looking for English teachers. I never thought something that I completely take for granted and do without thinking-speaking English-would be such a valuable asset to some. I did not take a job, but I did take an opportunity to teach English at a primary school on the outskirts of town. I am a volunteer as the school could not afford to pay a native English speaker’s salary. I am the only “farang” or Westerner that I have seen in this part of town, and it does bring me a lot of attention. The kids at the school seem very interested in talking to me, even though they are often to shy to do it.

teaching

The majority of my activities take place after school. We have an “English Club” where we play games such a telephone and hangman. I promised them I would teach them American football, which they call super bowl. They were really interested in this, so I broke down and bought an American football (probably the only one in Bangkok) and tried to teach them to play. They seem to like it even though it is taking awhile for them to get the rules down. Being involved with the school there is a great experience; one that I will never forget.

football

I often wonder how I ended up here, half a world away from my home, family, friends, and school. It can be quite lonely to think that I am over a day’s travel from anyone that I knew before January. But at the same time life here is an adventure. Every day I do something new and exciting. I meet new people often and I have made good friends as well. It is strange how I can feel both at home and so far away from home at the same time.

Having the opportunity to come to Thailand is something that I am very grateful for. With the help of Ms. Jones and the Office of International Services, I feel like I have all the support I need back on campus. I have had a few little bureaucratic issues arise back home, but Ms. Jones had them smoothed over in no time. Overall, everyone I have worked with back on campus has been incredibly supportive. If you are thinking about going abroad, DO IT! The cost is nothing compared to the experience you will receive. If you plan early enough you can find ways to fund your trip. The programs we have available to us as UALR students are great, and there is no reason for you not to go abroad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 at 10:25 am and is filed under Thailand, Travel. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Tristan Thibodeaux in Bangkok, Thailand”

  1. amjones Says:

    I am glad the experience was so wonderful.

  2. Patti German Says:

    Sawatdee, Tristan. I so enjoyed your travel blog. Thailand is a very special country for me - I spent two years teaching English there with the Peace Corps. I would love to know what your favorite Thai dish is. Have you tried the mango with sticky rice yet? Yum! I hope you enjoy the rest of your stay there and that you’ll be able to travel and see other parts of the country while you’re there. Hope you’ll report again.

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