Macy Salama: Taking on Thailand, a place of unexpected character
Though Thailand advertises with screensaver-like images of top-rated beaches, and breathtaking islands of aquamarine and white sand beaches, I realized Thailand offers more beyond the scenery. Thailand offers reality.
Before coming to Thailand, I was filled with doubt and unsure if Thailand would be the best place for me to proceed with my travels. Europe was extremely appealing to me, as I am a fan of coffee shops, red lipstick, rich food and art. Making the decision of where to study abroad was one that took time and much consideration, but for all the trouble, I am appreciative of everything Thailand has given me.
The best experience I have had thus far in Thailand was a school-sponsored field trip to the country’s former capital, known as the Kingdom of Ayutthaya. Students were given the chance to take a tour around the city. The tour included known temples, 13th century stupas, ancient artifacts, the largest bronze Buddha image in the world and a walk around the 17th century royal palace. The trip included four meals, an English-speaking tour guide and a boat ride.
These sights, however, were not the reason Ayutthaya was a favorite experience of mine. After a day of visiting shrines and beautiful architecture, a local family hosted the students overnight. Students learned how a traditional Thai family lives. During my stay with the host family, I realized that studying abroad has given me an experience I could not find most places. The house was located on the countryside overlooking the Jarhkee Canal.
While staying with the host family, students slept and ate on the hardwood floor, watched a traditional Thai dance performance and consistently applied layers
of bug repellent. The homestay experience made me realize how much Thailand has changed me. Instead of resorting to my privileged subconscious and complaining about having to sleep on the floor, I was grateful to have toilet paper and clean water provided for me, which is not always accessible in Southeast Asia.
Living in the United States my whole life, I have grown accustomed to clean water, washing machines, air conditioning and Wi-Fi. Living in Thailand has made me realize that I have been living an extremely fortunate life in the United States. Instead of being aggravated that Wi-Fi is not available, I have learned how to live simply. Asia taught me that.
I have noticed from the Thai locals that an easy, simple life is just as rewarding as a fancy, extravagant one. A great weekend for Thai locals is as easy as sitting outside with bug repellent and a bottle of whiskey while conversing with loved ones. Complaints are rarely heard, as the locals appreciate the little things in life.