Kunming University's Intern Students in Thailand Write of Their Initial Experiences

Date:2012-03-14     Source:     Author:     Typeface:Big Middle Small

Arriving in Thailand

Yanhong Ma

    A leisurely life often makes people lose track of time, I'm not sure how, but it's already been five days since we came to Thailand. Even now I remember the novelty it was to fly for the first time, everyone was nervous and excited, anticipating take-off. In that moment, it felt like I was softly leaving earth behind. Watching the clouds fall away below me really gave me the feeling of flying. Only after the plane had climbed above the clouds did I begin to calm down a little. Gazing out the window at the sun shining on a sea of clouds, enjoying the sweet smiles of the Thai Airways stewardesses, tasting Thai food -so many “firsts” for me! It really felt like I was “living it up”.

    As soon as we disembarked from the plane, the thick tropical air surrounded us and we all joked that we had arrived during the time to “steam dumplings”! Really, though, it's hot. I felt like I couldn't catch my breath for several days, but I slowly got used to it. Afterward, we all became “miniscules” since the airport is so... ...I can only say “big” and “luxurious”. While we were waiting to get through security, we stumbled and laughed through some practice of “Sawasdee-kah” which attracted not a few stares.

    We soon met with Chairman Sun, took some pictures, and then were all whisked away to our respective schools by those sent to welcome us. After an hour on the road to Fotongfu Sanfan County, Napahsilong City Middle School, I could only sigh in amazement - Wow! What a straight road! Basically no curves, only small hills, just a straight shot. Perhaps the others were too tired or homesick, because aside from the three of us jabbering away about the scenery and points of interest, everyone else was quiet. Gradually, we too picked up some of their melancholy at being so far from home.

    Yue Yu, the lady who met us, is a beautiful, amicable Thai teacher who is also fluent in Chinese. She's been to China many times and couldn't stop talking about the good Chinese food. Kunming left her with the deepest impression. At supper we discovered that Thais love to eat French-fries, all sorts of set meals come with them. As we finished eating, no one had touched their fries, so she thought we didn't like them, and told us to eat them so that they wouldn't go to waste. This experience gave me a greater respect for her. On the way back, she introduced the school to us.

    Our living quarters are a small two-story villa, with the yard serving as the driveway. Shoes must be taken off to enter the house, which is quite neat and clean. There's another Chinese person who's been living here for four years who looks out for us.

    Later, the leaders of the school invited us to a more traditional Thai meal, although the food seemed influenced by the west. During the meal they helped serve us a few of the dishes, which demonstrated their friendship and hospitality. We drank some locally famous coconut juice, and tried an ice-cream cake, both of which were quite nice.

    All of this has been quite a decent beginning. It feels like we're far away from home in a new place, but yet somehow not far away, at the same time. I'm filled with anticipation for the days to come.

 

Yanling Wu

    I always wanted to go traveling, to see the world. I thought of places like Tibet, Dali, Lijiang, Beijing, Xian... but I never imagined that my first stop would be Thailand! It seemed so far way, although it's actually closer than Beijing! In reality it's quite close, as close as the plane ticket in my hand.

    During the two hour flight from Kunming to Bangkok, I had my first taste of Thai culture. It's a country with a sweet smile, that increases my expectation for the marvels in store for me there. As we got off the plane, the hot tropical air announced that I was most definitely in Thailand, the place I would spend the next three months of my life. On the road from Bangkok to Fotongfu we talked, laughed, and enjoyed the new and interesting scenery out the window, a new country...

    The hospitality of the Thai people is as warm as the Thai sun, their sweet smile and hands folded in greeting, welcoming us to Thailand. I had always had a curious and cheerful attitude, but now, I was worried about communication problems, only to find out that the teacher who met us can speak fluent Chinese! They went on to tell us that we would be working with a Chinese teacher who has been living in Thailand for several years. Apparently there are quite a few volunteers here. At this, I was less anxious and began looking forward to meeting these teachers.

    Due to the flood damage, our little villa had: a Thai Chinese-language teacher, Xue Lin (Chinese teacher), Li Sha (Thai teacher), and my classmate Ma and I living together. After Li Sha came, we've been studying Thai almost every night as well as doing Chinese-language exchange.

    In our little home, the most lively time would have to be supper time when Su Juan (Chinese teacher) and our classmate He Huan join our little group. We all come from different places, with so many different flavors, many of which are a bit unusual to some of us!

    The scenery here is quite exquisite, so green and natural, dense humid air, along with thick grass and shrubs and lots of little animals -a quiet, relaxed life. The facilities of the city are quite complete and orderly. I've never seen a Chinese city where highway speeds can be driven downtown, since everyone obeys the traffic laws here and pay attention when they cross the road. Perhaps this is one of the cultural differences that Vice-President Li was telling us about before we left Kunming.

    Thailand deserves to be called a tourist country. Almost everywhere there are foreigners and most of the locals can speak basic English, especially in Bangkok. On almost every street you can see a foreigner and hear Thai, English, and Chinese being spoken. Most likely this is the reason why many of the local schools begin teaching Chinese and English in elementary school.

    Life goes on, as our Chinese-language teaching work continues. In the days to come I look forward to the marvels in store for me.

 

Meeting Thailand for the First Time

    Zhen Pu

    November 17, 2011, with our hearts doing flip-flops, we anxiously and excitedly embarked on our journey towards interning in Thailand

    On the plane we tried to imagine what sorts of things we would encounter, but when we finally landed in this beautiful, fertile land, our first feeling was -hot! Close on the heels of this came more excitement, as our anxiety gradually faded away.

    Sitting in the AC of the vehicle on the road from Bangkok to Fotongfu, my excitement just wouldn't subside. I kept chattering away to my classmates and looking out the window at the scenery going by in this place I had looked forward to for so long.

    That evening in our dorm, I met the principal of the school I will be teaching at, a friendly, considerate lady. Even before I arrived at the dorm, she had turned the AC on so that I would be comfortable as soon as I arrived. The atmosphere in the dorm is quite warm and cozy, as well as clean, and far exceeds my expectations. I'm filled with energy and vigor as I realize that I get to spend the next three months in this environment!

    The day after we arrived, the school principal came personally to take us to the school and even arranged for me to have a bicycle -so considerate! At the school I met my future colleagues and said hello to the cute little students. The only two Thai sentences I know “sawatdee kaa” (Hello) and “kip koon kaa” (Thank you) were always on my tongue, otherwise I could only depend on English and body language.

    Everyday, riding my bike to school, saying “Ni hao” in Chinese to the students, studying Thai with my Thai teacher, going to all the classes to teach Chinese, I'm busy and content. As soon as the cute little students see me, they gather round and talk to me, even though I don't understand their language and they don't understand mine... …as we spend time together, I've discovered that no matter whether we are Chinese or Thai, aside from the language difference, everyone is so similar!

    One week has passed, and I've slowly adapted to everything here, the people, transportation, weather, little animals... ...everything is looking up and improving! The most pressing need and desire in my heart right now is to learn the Thai language as quickly as possible, so I need to study and work harder! I'm looking forward to the personal improvements that I will have made in three months, let's go!