By: Victoria Valencia and Katie Jobst
As a nerdy history major who actually wrote my research paper on the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya kingdoms it was really great to see the ruins of the first official Thai kingdom in person. Seeing all of the ruins- the wats (temples), the still standing Buddhas, the remnants of things we can only guess at- really puts things in perspective for me. It was one thing to research about Sukhothai and its empire from the safety and relative comfort of the Giovale library, but quite another to see the actual ruins firsthand and wonder about the actual people who lived there and marvel at the work of whoever built the monuments we still see today. And it puts the short history of America into perspective where we think things from the 1970’s are old.
There we were in Sukhothai standing next to ruins older than our country- well actually we biked around them. While many people had their own bike, some students shared. Both Katie and I had the unique opportunity to ride around the ruins on the backs of our professors’ bicycles. Being chauffeured around on a bicycle by your professor while discussing the history of an ancient culture is something you can only experience on a May term trip. And it is only after spending almost two weeks with them living in rural Thai villages, bouncing along bumpy mountain roads for hours on end, and putting up with Han’s endless picture taking that I would feel comfortable riding that close to a professor’s behind. But that’s all part of May term- bonding with your fellow students but with your professors as well.
Whilst being toted around through the Sukothai Historical Park, clinging to Han’s sweaty t-shirt, watermelon popsicle dripping down my arm, I realized how good our lives really are. Spending time in a foreign culture, wind sheepishly making its way through the water-thick air, the occasional shout from Han at the front of the bike (“BUMP!!!”); this is a truly unique experience. I felt like channeling my inner Indiana Jones when we stopped to traipse around the gorgeous ruins of a bygone civilization. Except, with this study experience, we have much more to discover than Harrison Ford did.