Student Exchange: Visiting Temples and Markets!

xchange_Regents_Thai_AVandenbussche_005My time here in Thailand is almost up and I simply can’t believe it!

With the exception of Wednesday, it was a usual school week. I’ve been eating more cautiously ever since my incident with the super spicy Asian dish. I’ve also continued playing basketball and ping-pong. I’m getting so good at ping-pong that I’ve started beating some of the kids here. Well at least I think I’m playing better. They tell me that they’re just taking it easy on me but I think otherwise!

Last Wednesday was different than your typical day at school. I had the opportunity to take in some of Thailand’s culture and it was an incredibly memorable day. The school organized an outing for me, two Year 9 students, and another exchange student from Peru, Marianne, to visit a floating market, three temples, a family-run restaurant, and a local market.

Our first stop was the floating market. A floating market is a traditional Thai market where you take a boat down canals and buy goods while drifting by stalls and other boats. However, what we visited was not a fully authentic market. Marianne and I did not take a boat, but instead we walked between the stalls on land, which was just as cool. We bought some souvenirs and some dumplings, which were very good. Even though it was a bit touristy, it was nonetheless very different for the two of us and very cool to visit.

Our second stop was a temple park (i.e., many temples constructed next to each other, forming a type of park). There, we visited three temples. The first one we visited was an information centre, which explained the values of Buddhism, using Thai art. It was very pretty and enlightening.

We then stopped our sightseeing for a lunch break. We drove outside the temple park to a family-run Thai restaurant. Thankfully we were being chaperoned by a local woman who worked at the school, who spoke fluent Thai. I was grateful. She helped us understand the menu. I ordered a Pad Se Iw, which is a thick noodle dish served with bok choy and beef. It was delicious!

Finally, we went to a local market. Although it had no canals, it was very cool. Without a doubt, I was the only Canadian there. Everything was less touristy and felt extremely Thai. I did not buy much, although I did buy a bubble tea. It was the perfect ending to a great day!

Since then, not much has changed. Today, being Saturday, I’m staying in boarding. There are no trips this weekend because there is a massive senior tournament being hosted at the school, welcoming students from all over Southeast Asia.

Although I’m looking forward to returning home, I’m sad to think that I’m leaving the trip of a lifetime. I’m so happy with how my exchange turned out and I don’t want to leave. I don’t think it’s possible to summarize how life changing this experience has been. I’ve made memories that will last a lifetime and I’m very sad to be leaving the friends that I have made, the teachers I’ve met, the jokes, the weather, the Thai flowers and so much more.

It’s crazy how fast my time in Thailand has passed and unbelievable to think that I’m only here for another five days. I think when you’re on exchange, you’re so busy adjusting to a new school and a new life that you lose track of time. Even this week is going to be busy. This week is the school musical, “Once,” and I’ll be starring as the only flutist of the orchestra! It will be a lot of fun! I can’t wait! —Andrew Vandenbussche ’19, Exchange Student at Regent’s



Student Exchange: Memories of Thailand

IMG_1781Sadly, my time in Thailand has come to an end, after six amazing weeks of being among newly made friends and in an exotic new country. I am writing this on the airplane heading back to Montreal, and as much as I want out (because of boredom), half of me wants to turn the plane around and head back to Thailand. I already miss a lot of the food, fruit, and customs of the country and of my exchange school, Regents International School Pattaya. Of course, life must go on, and I have to come back to Canada and readjust to the time zone and the ways here.

Two weeks ago, my roommate, Osman, left to help look after his grandmother. I can tell you, I was really sad to see him leave, even though I would see him in school the next day. He was the funniest guy I have ever met, and I was never bored with him. But, as I said, he left, and I roomed with another one of my friends, Jeenchai. Though not as funny, he was special and entertaining in his own way.

For two weekends, I was hosted by Osman because he had been staying with his grandmother. In the first week, his parents were visiting from Russia, so we went to see a couple of tourist places. On Friday, we saw a Chinese museum and the Pattaya Buddha Mountain. I also got to eat a coconut and lots of passion fruit. The next day, we went swimming in their pool and just relaxed. On Sunday, we went shopping and then I had to go back to school. The next weekend was a more relaxed weekend. We stayed inside a lot because it was one of the only times it rained while I was there. On Sunday, we went shopping for souvenirs because it was my last week there.

On my last day, and for the first time, I wore my LCC suit to school – all the other days I only needed to wear a shirt, pants, and shoes, because of the heat – and yes, I was sweating most of the day. I had to wear the uniform because I’d made a promise to someone that I’d wear it on the last day. At the end of the school day, after getting our grades for the term, everyone said goodbye to me. They were all upset that I was leaving, and they also said that I should’ve been there for the school Songkran (the Thai New Year) party the next day. I was told it was really fun, but sadly, I wasn’t going to be there. It was a very sad day. I got back to the boarding house and immediately started to pack, because I had to leave in seven hours and I’d barely packed. I took a break for dinner, and I’m glad I went, because it was the school Songkran dinner. It was a feast, and I can easily say that that was my favorite meal there. There were two appetizers, four main courses, an amazing dessert, and then lots of different fruit. I was challenged to eat a whole chili pepper, and I did. The next five minutes of my life was spent eating tons of fruit and breathing out sharply to get rid of the spice. It was a fun last experience in Thailand.

More quickly than I’d expected, my time to leave the school had come, and sadly, I walked down the same corridors I had walked down 100 times before to get around the school, but this time would be the last. As I got on the bus, I took one last look at the school that had become my home for the last six weeks of my life. I would miss it. I said goodbye to all the boarders and the staff who had welcomed me when I’d arrived, and then I left for the airport. After a total of twenty hours in the air, and three hours sitting in the airport, I am back in Montreal, welcomed by the thing that most of the people in Thailand have never seen, and the thing I haven’t seen in six weeks: snow. – Eli Samuel ’17, Exchange Student at Regents International School Pattaya


Student Exchange: Week 1 – My Thai School Experience

IMG_1679Friday, February 20 was my date of departure from Montreal to Pattaya, Thailand. I could hardly contain my excitement during dinner with my family earlier that night. I was driving my mother crazy by talking and acting like I had drank ten cups of coffee! I am still consumed by my passion for planes, although a bit less than when I was younger; when I wanted to quit school to become a pilot to fly all over the world, so the thought of flying alone on an airplane was very exciting.

After a long twelve-hour flight to Doha, a three-hour layover, a six-hour flight to Bangkok, and an hour and a half drive to Pattaya, I arrived to an empty school, with an empty stomach. After a snack, the head of boarding, Mr. James Grey, told me that the boarders were still on break, and they were going to come back in a couple of hours, before supper (6 pm). After learning that, I fell asleep, as it was 4:00 am in Montreal, and I hadn’t slept in a day.

I woke up to all the boarders and my roommate Osman returning. The Regent’s School Pattaya consists of 100 boarders (boys and girls from year 1 to year 12 (kindergarten to grade 11 in Canada)), and 900 non-boarders.

At dinner (and breakfast and lunch), we had the choice of Thai food or Western food. Of course I opted for the Thai food because I wanted a taste of what I spent a day travelling for.

My year (year 10, which is grade 9) consists of mostly Russian, Thai and British kids. I was the only Canadian in a grade of 100 kids. Everyone greeted me and treated me well on my first day, and if I got lost, there was always someone to show me around. They are also one year ahead of us, because next year (our grade 10 and their year 11) we get to choose our courses, and we have career fair. They do it this year.

The rest of the school days were uneventful as my schedule consisted of:

6:45 am – Wake up and complain to Osman that it’s too early to wake up!
7:20 am – Eat breakfast
8:20 am – School
3:30 pm – Go back to boarding
5:00 pm to 6:00 pm – Homework
6:00 pm – Dinner
10:00 pm – Lights out and complain to Osman that it’s too early to go to bed!

On Friday nights, the boarders go to Central – a big six-floor mall in downtown Pattaya. It is so large I would have gotten lost if I had been by myself!

On Saturday we got to sleep in until 9 am (yay!), then we went for a fifteen-kilometer bike ride to Horseshoe point, and went swimming there.

On Sunday we got to sleep in until whenever we wanted to (yay!), so I slept in until noon. Sunday is a relax day, so I spent all day with my friends having fun.

Some facts that you should know before coming here:

  • Soccer is football
  • Supper is dinner
  • We are allowed phones in class
  • Spicy for Thai people is killer spicy for normal people
  • Thai people drive on the wrong side of the road – or do we drive on the wrong side…
  • There are a lot of motorcycles
  • Water is non-potable, so you must buy water bottles which are very cheap: 10 baht ($ 0.39)

So far, Thailand has more than lived up to what I expected it to be in terms of people, food and how can I forget about the temperature? It is always around 30˚C – 35˚C, but it feels much warmer with the humidity and in the sun. I bet everyone in Montreal is jealous. Thailand is amazing and I can’t wait until this Saturday, when we are going paintballing! – Eli Samuel ’17, Exchange Student at Regents International School Pattaya

Student Exchange: Internationalism Changed My Life




I am born of Polish parents. I am an American citizen. I live in Canada, but I am a citizen of the world. It’s funny how things happen. Three years ago, I was introduced to the idea of a student exchange. I saw and heard so many things about students traveling abroad, and I made it my goal to experience an exchange on my own. I wanted to go somewhere completely foreign, someplace that no one I knew had gone before, so I chose Thailand.


From the very first moment I stepped onto Thai soil, Thailand became my home. I spent six weeks atThe Regents School in Pattayain boarding and I had the time of my life. I played basketball, did cross country running and played in their school band. I took weekend trips to pristine island resorts with my local friends and did a bicycle trip through the slums of Bangkok. Every weekend, I would get the opportunity to volunteer through different clubs in the school and help out at a local orphanage for handicapped children with my friends. In my boarding house alone, I met more people of diverse backgrounds than I could have imagined. I made friends from Bhutan, Lithuania, Armenia, South Africa and South Korea, just to mention a few. When it came time to leave, I felt like I was a movie character – as I looked out from the back window of the moving car on the way to the airport, all of my friends stood in a line, crying and waving goodbye. I, too, was in tears and didn’t want to leave.


Many people may say that their exchange was wonderful or enlightening, but my exchange experience changed my life. After having discovered a new exotic world and making unbroken friendships, I decided that my travel to Thailand would not stop there. I made it my goal to go back the next summer to see my friends, and on top of that I wanted to try something new and volunteer abroad. That’s when, with the help of my father, I found the Mercy Center and embarked on a four week independent volunteer trip to Bangkok’s biggest slum – Klong Toey, the “Slaughterhouse”.


I was extremely nervous because I was going to live by myself in a major city where crime and corruption was supposed to be very widespread. In the taxicab on the way to Mercy Center I obviously had thoughts racing through my head of, “Oh. Maybe I should turn around now. It’s not too late.” But chickening out was not the answer. I had traveled 26 hours and there was no turning back.


What really made me push forward, though, was the idea that I would be doing something useful and unique. The service I was going to do was not meant for me, but for the people in need. To turn back would be selfish and irresponsible.

Before I knew it, I was at the entrance of the Mercy Center, with a big purple suitcase in hand.The Mercy Centre, established by Father Joe Meier, is an emergency organization that takes care of families that have been exposed to human trafficking, rape, AIDs, sickness and any disaster. Many kids that live at the Mercy Centre are there because they have lost their families or were abandoned.


So I spent my summer working in the “Slaughterhouse”. The struggle started on my first day, when I was told that I would be teaching English to kids of all ages. Now imagine yourself in my position.This wasn’t a “read to your buddy for an hour” situation. I was a 15-year old girl that had to make a lesson plan before the next morning, get familiar with 20 students in my class and teach them. Oh yeah. I forgot to mention. None of them spoke a word of English and I had no idea how to speak Thai.


What made everything easier, though, was that all the kids were so sweet and wanted to help me do my best. They were super attentive and worked so hard in class – they really wanted to learn. After my first full day in the classroom, I was ecstatic. I loved my students and could not wait to see them the next day! When it was time for lunch for my pre-school students, I would go to the outdoor basketball court and play soccer on the smooth surface with the older local kids. I was really bad at soccer, but they still always let me play with them and taught me so many tricks.


Over my four weeks, I got the chance to work with kids from the ages of 6 to 18 and even worked on the organization’s farm outside of the city once a week.


There, I truly didn’t feel like I was doing community service, but living a normal life in a city that never sleeps.When I wasn’t working, I was spending time in the small alleyway home where I lived with eight Thai university students. I had only a tiny room with a bed and a fan, so with Thailand’s rainy season and 30+-degree weather, AC was something I had to learn to live without.


As you can imagine, it was truly a parallel world with a completely different culture, language and society rules but I soon blended in with the help of the locals’ open-mindedness and friendliness towards me.


In the end, my whole idea of this volunteer trip being only for the people in need was wrong. By the end of my trip I realized that the students I was teaching, helped me more that I could have imagined. They taught me responsibility, perseverance and acceptance. They accepted me as their teacher and they cared for me from day one.


I never imagined that going on an exchange would have done so much for me. Taking that chance three years ago helped me build a bond with the country and the people that I see myself revisiting for the rest of my life. I am going off to university next year, but I have promised myself that I will take at least six months of my four years in college and go back to the Mercy Center to live and volunteer full time.


The internationalism that I gained from going on exchange and volunteering abroad is immeasurable. Maybe you may never reach a stage in your life where you will visit a slum or go on an exchange, like I did. I feel at home in Thailand, but many people may not feel the same way. But I know that each and very one of you have the potential to do service in an environment that you feel comfortable in and grow to love.


I encourage all of you to step out of your comfort zone and take any opportunity you have to travel and help others while doing so. I can assure you that you won’t regret it, and it may just change your life. – Olga Jablonski (Pre-U ’14)













Thailand Exchange: Swimming With Baby Sharks

Every week is passing by so quickly. As the days pass, I am coming to the realization that my stay here in Thailand will end soon. I am having such a great time and will miss Regent’s school and all of my friends when I leave.

School here is great but it is quite different than LCC. Considering the fact that Thailand is a tropical country, almost everything is outdoors, from the hallways to the lounges. Here at Regents, instead of an arena they have a large pool. Consequently, Regents has much more of an outdoor feel in which I have come to greatly appreciate. I enjoy simply going outside to my next class.  They also have a huge campus consisting of many buildings. There is a language building, the main building, the primary school, a pre-school building, two boarding houses, and a very spacious building for the staff whom live on campus. Altogether, everything is quite different but it is quite an enjoyable change.

On Saturday, I went scuba diving with my friend Ellis and her sister Chloe. For the first time in my life I saw two baby sharks up close. This was an event that I will never forget!  As we were swimming, we spotted two baby sharks. I was stunned at first; I had felt my heart rate begin to increase as the fear began to wash over me slowly but in the end, I had nothing to fear as the sharks had actually swam away from us as one of the instructors had, without fear, grabbed its fin. Not only had I seen two amazing creatures but I had also saw many remarkable types of coral and fish; in all sizes, colours and forms. I swam into many schools of fish where we saw a stingray and other amazing sea creatures! The corals were also quite mesmerizing, some actually turned into different forms as we gently touched them.  Scuba diving is something that I would love to do again.

Though Regents and Thailand in general  has many aspects that make it very different from what I am use to, I am loving everything.  All in all, my journey to Thailand has been a great experience filled with challenging opportunities, adventures and encounters. – Kamy Roberge-Carrington ’16