It’s been a week and half since I arrived in Thailand and I have loved every second of it so far. Between the lack of snow, the great people from all parts of the world and the fun atmosphere, I am enjoying myself and learning a lot.
After a long 24 hours of flying, I arrived in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport on January 8. The first thing I noticed when I got off the airplane was the humidity. Although I was looking forward to some heat, I was not prepared for Thai heat. I had decided to travel in a heavy pair of sweatpants and a comfortable sweater but I was already broiling just getting off the plane!
When I got to the boarding house at the school, jetlagged and exhausted, I wanted to take a short nap. I turned on a 30-minute timer to make sure that I didn’t sleep too much and confuse my body more but I slept for five hours, right through the alarm! I woke up very annoyed at my timer and extremely frustrated. Then 30 seconds later my roommate, Nikhil, walked in. We got to know each other and became friends (although we do have occasional fights about whether or not the room is too cold or too hot and whether or not we should turn on the A/C. I say it’s too hot, and he says that it’s just because I’m Canadian!)
The school campus is beautiful and different from LCC in almost every way imaginable. First, the school is mostly outside, but because Thailand experiences some pretty crazy tropical storms every once in awhile, they cover most of the pathways. Sadly, I once got caught in a tropical rainstorm in the one part of the school that was not covered. Let’s just say it was not a fun experience! Second, the school is a giant garden. There are palm trees everywhere, beautiful flower hedges, and the school is surrounded by mountains covered in dense forest. Birds fly across the campus and there is even a campus cat. If you meow at it, it will meow back at you. How cute!
The school day is slightly different here than it is at LCC. Although it starts at 8:20 am and ends at 3:20 pm, there are only five periods per day, with each one lasting an hour and twenty minutes. The curriculum is also slightly different. Here, English and math are compulsory classes and you get to choose six other options. I chose history, geography, music, Spanish, biology and psychology. Most classes cover similar topics as LCC, but I’ve had to work extra hard in psychology and English!
I’ve only left the school campus twice so far, both times to go to shopping malls, which seem even more Western than some of the ones in Canada. You can go bowling, watch a movie, play in the arcade, or even do grocery shopping and get your haircut. My friends and I chose to watch the sunset over the gulf of Thailand. It was really pretty! However, what I’ve found most interesting about the trip so far is the drive from the school to the shopping malls.
Driving in Thailand is quite different from driving in Canada. The most obvious difference is that in Thailand they drive on the left side of the road (the wrong side of the road!) But there are many greater differences. Traffic in Thailand is crazy! It’s every man for himself here. No one drives in the lanes and the motorcyclists are reckless. They cut through traffic between cars, no one wears helmets and I’ve even seen them go the wrong way on one-way roads! Tuk tuks also pass by offering street food to local vendors and cars randomly park alongside the road. But by far, the biggest difference in Thailand is the poverty. I was driving by shacks that looked like old abandoned buildings. But then I took a closer look and realized that there were people living there. There were motorcycles parked outside and people standing beside their house. Although I know that there is poverty in Canada, this struck me and it seemed more prevalent than it home.
So far, I am having a lot of fun, learning a lot, meeting new people and making friends. I’m very excited because next Saturday, we are heading to the tropical island of Ko Si Chang. – Andrew Vandenbussche ’19, Exchange Student at Regents International School Pattaya