It’s been 5 months since I came back from Thailand and I can’t deny it’s been a tough one. I try to title all my posts with movie titles but this is one is TOO fitting. Since I’ve been back I’ve entered the void I think is all too familiar to students who study abroad. Since getting back in the USA at first I was happy; I was excited to see my family and friends and it was fun telling them stories. But as time passed this all faded and real life set in. No matter how much fun something was I always found myself comparing it to adventures in Thailand, little surprise they never compared. Even worse than that was missing the people I had around and our memories together. I could find myself starting every sentence with “This one time in Thailand…” . I also found myself regretting not things I did but things I didn’t do and sometimes things I left unsaid. These are things I’m still dealing with but learning to put in a different perspective. I look at all the possible outcomes and they all still land me here. Although it’s a difficult chapter to close I know it’s necessary to move on with my life and reach other exciting chapters. Many times I thought about running away, staying a couple more months and finding an internship but I value my education more than anything and I did not want to derail my graduation any longer.
So a little about what I learned while abroad. I think the most valuable thing I learned was my inner strength; I successfully spent 6 months all on my own in a country completely unfamiliar to me. Whenever I had a problem is was up to me to resolve it and I didn’t realize how dependent I was on my parents until I returned. I also learned so much about Thai culture and European culture from the other exchange students. I learned to appreciate my own culture. Before I didn’t even know Americans had one. It’s funny because I always thought I was different from all the other Americans because my parents are immigrants but I learned there is something fundamental to us. I think Americans are very laid back, we don’t stress about details but there is also a part of us that’s competitive and we always want to be the best. We are sometimes not aware of global matters but in a way we want to learn the most. As for everyone in exchange we were all intellectual and really driven, there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll all be successful. Ten year reunion in Bangkok, just saying!!
What makes me happy now? Surprisingly school, I felt disinterested in school after returning but I was really lucky to have some wonderful professors this semester. I also like the structure in my life here, I kept busy by juggling school, extracurricular activities, meetings, groups project and the occasional night out. I joined two great organizations this semester. One is Intercultural Engagement where I’ve been working to program more culturally inclusive events on campus. The other is the International Program Ambassadors, I get to talk about studying abroad all I want yay! I’ve also focused most my attention on my career and diving into the ultra competitive advertising industry. All the hard work has paid off as I landed an internship with Draftfcb New York!! One of the world’s top ad agencies. I’m still in disbelief of how it happened. On an ironic note, I live a healthier lifestyle in the US, yes the motherland of McDonalds and laziness. We practically have copyrighted fatness. I found a new love of yoga and jogging, I cook healthy things more often. By the time I left Bangkok the unhealthy lifestyle had taken its toll and I had gained 15 pounds. But now I’ve lost 30 pounds and I feel better than ever. I also decided I really love blogging in my life so I’ve started a blog that not only includes Thailand blogs I didn’t post here but my life after (like my presidential inauguration trip) and all that is to come, follow me at Barbaravalle.wordpress.com
To answer the question I began this blog with “why Thailand?” the answer I know now is there was never any other place. I’m a big believer in destiny and there were moments in Thailand that were always meant to happen. I can say with full confidence that Thailand was in my path of life, which just makes me that much happier to know my life is going in the right direction. I recently noticed I wrote a last blog but I never posted it and reading it now I realized it is really special so here it is, unchanged 4 months ago:
Dark times are upon us, the end of the best five months of my entire life. I think every student studying abroad comes to a point when they realize their days are numbered. At first you look back and wonder where has the time gone, it feels like I just got here. Then you start to meticulously inspect every detail of past events and come to the conclusion that you are so lucky to be the person you are. We’ve made it several months away from our friends and family in a country different from our own. I chose Thailand, it doesn’t get more different than that.
It seemed like every day was the last time you were going to do that or go here. Then it started being, “that’s the last time I’ll see that person”. Asoke residence where I lived became emptier and emptier. I couldn’t go down and see Justine and Jessica and talk about boy drama or I couldn’t mess with the guys from 6. It all really hit me when my roommates left and I was sitting in an empty apartment thinking of all the great times we had in there. For example, the first night we all met and no one could understand Aubie, or the birthday party that I don’t remember, the crazy storm that scared everyone, the movie nights, the guests that have passed through those doors.
I am going to miss my Asoke family so much, there are countless memories that will forever bring a smile to my face when I think about them. From breaking in to each others apartments, to pressing elevator button on every floor, to parties where I was the only girl, to Nate’s living room love shack, to apartment 6’s bottle collection, to Jamie who always has a plan, to the misadventures of Me and Robin, to Carlo TO FREAKING CARLO (enough said). My roommates, the coolest, nicest and most accepting girls. Together we had so many dinners, so many inside jokes and so many fun times. Most of all I’m going to miss the girl that for five months was my partner in crime and my best friend on this exchange. She put up with my moods while I put up with her snoring. Here’s to fights about Obama to shots for Obama. To getting ready in our room jamming to “Aubie’s playlist”. To helping you with you addiction to Lost. To naps after class and not waking up for class. To nights at the street bar and route 66. To trying to go out a week straight. To gossiping about anything possible. To talking about aliens and conspiracies at 4 in the morning. To feeling guilty when the cleaners come because our room was so messy. To comparing British English and American English at all times. To gaining so much weight because we ate so much food. To 7-eleven runs; sandwiches, rice burgers and yellow rolls. To shopping almost anywhere. And to the amazing trips we’ve made and the laughs we’ve enjoyed. I won’t miss you too much because I know I’ll see you soon Aubie, in the Islands and when you visit me in Miami. And to everyone from exchange, Evergreeners, Nonsis you have made this the most wonderful experience. This exceeded my expectations and I’m so happy to have met every single one of you. Some of you I will never see again but most of you our paths will cross again. Lets have a 10 year reunion in Thailand once we have established careers and hopefully lots of money and success. See you guys soon!
I’m so happy we had one last crazy night to say goodbye. Thank you, Khob Kun Kaa!
Our first picture together in Khao San..Little did we know what a great friendship we would form!