After my tenth out of twelve flights in seven weeks, I arrived back in Sydney this past Saturday from my amazing two-week trip in Thailand! I spent the rest of that day catching up on sleep and spent Sunday relaxing and going out to lunch at the Park Hyatt, which overlooked the Opera house.
Thailand was incredible! All 113 Year-10 MLC girls arrived at Prem campus on February 15 at about 9:00 pm. We were shown our clusters and accommodations, then, whisked away to a quick introduction and dinner. Although it was dark, we could still tell that it was a beautiful and scenic campus. We were not disappointed in the morning when the sun rose and we headed off for breakfast.
I can easily say that the food was amazing, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Constantly changing, we were surprised and excited to see what was on the menu for the upcoming day. When we did find out two seconds before we ate, we attempted to pile on as much as we could on our already big plates. No one hesitated going back for seconds.
After a couple days of adjusting group 1(the group I was in) and group 3 headed off to a village about an hour away from Prem. We were going to be staying four nights and five days. Two nights were going to be spent at the tree house and the other two at the riverside huts. On our first day of arrival we walked to the school where we were going to be working and were given a tour. After the tour the work commenced. Group 1, 3 and a whole bunch of the school kids made a giant line. People at the top were to fill buckets and pass them all the way down so the ground could be flattened for the concrete. We did that for about two hours then group 1 headed back to the tree house and group 3 to riverside.
For the next five days we endured 8-hour days of physical work. We worked hard mixing concrete and finished our required work a day before we were supposed to. I think seeing a bit of a finished product was one of the most rewarding feelings of the entire trip. The second day of work Georgie, Teddy, Isabelle and I were keen to teach a class at the school. We got everything sorted out and that afternoon we were asked to teach a grade 3 class for an hour. Although there was a large language barrier between the kids and us, we were still able to communicate through signs, movement and limited words in English that they knew. We did activities like musical chairs, head, shoulders, knees and toes, soccer, what time is it Mr. Wolf and we made them laugh with silly faces. I think we actually ended up spending the rest of the workday with them.
When we got back to Prem, everyone was eager to shower. We had a relaxing rest of the day with a nice dinner and a full night of sleep.
During the next and final week we spent time doing the touristy things in Chiang Mai. We did a Thai massage class, visited temples, went to the elephant nature park, did Thai and jungle cooking, farm activities at the local farm and went to two night markets. The night markets were definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me. We learned how to bargain and found some really unique and interesting things. I have no clue how I’m going to manage to put everything in my suitcase to bring back with me!
I also really enjoyed the elephant nature park. Where we went, they didn’t allow riding of the elephants and all the elephants were rescued from bad situations. Some were used for excessive breeding, abusive labour and more. Some elephants had even stepped on landmines, so they were injured. We got to feed one of them and we also go to wash them. After we washed the elephants all of the girls had a massive water fight in the river, it was awesome!
On the last night we enjoyed a Khantoke dinner. We sat in tables of six already filled with food and as soon as we finished the food it was filled right back up. That was my kind of meal. After we finished eating we enjoyed some cultural performances that were amazing and finished the night off with releasing the lanterns we had made earlier in the week. Despite the fact that the wind blew one of them into the tree, we all laughed it off and enjoyed the rest of them. It was a truly a great way to finish the two memorable weeks in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
I leave from Australia on Saturday, which is unbelievable. I can’t believe how fast it has gone by. I’ve learned a lot in Australia and in Thailand and am very eager to share my wonderful experience with my friends and family. It was an absolute pleasure getting to know everyone and see everything that I did. It has been only wonderful attending MLC for the past six weeks. I’ve learned a lot and seen what its been like to go to a very different school from LCC. I have had an amazing and eye-opening time while on my exchange. I will definitely come back to Australia. I’ll see you soon Montréal and I’ll be bearing Tim Tams!
Thank you Australia, MLC, and Georgie, Lynn and David for making this a remarkable experience! - Rachelle Collins ’17: Exchange Student at the MLC School, Australia