By: Sarah Pierson and Leah Jeglum
When I first walked outside the airport my first reaction was its hot and humid but I can handle it. It was a big jump walking out of the nice air conditioned airport and walking to the vans. There was mass confusion to what van to get in and trying to find space for the vans to park. Once we finally got going, I was half asleep trying to take in as much as I could. I first noticed that driving on the roads was opposite and that Thai drivers are pretty aggressive, they go where they want. We noticed that most of the cars are honda, nissan or toyota. I was surprised to see all the garbage on the side of the road and further in the trip noticed that it is hard to find garbage cans. There were also little shacks on the side of nicer buildings and everything wasn’t as organized as other cities are. I was also surprised how big Bangkok is. New York City has its clump of really tall buildings surrounded by smaller ones and suburbs. Comparatively, Bangkok doesn’t have very tall buidings and looks like one giant suburb. I was expecting it to be cleaner and the buildings to be more impressive than they were. I didn’t feel as much as a culture shock as we made our way to the hotel. There were more asians but other than that the people seemed very nice and eager to meet us. Thus far i am loving Thailand!
When our plane touched down in Bangkok, I immediately felt the change in weather, which included the dramatic increase in humidity. While my hometown isn’t the most moist place in the world, I thought living in Salt Lake would help me with the transition. I could not have been any more wrong! To this day, the humidity and heat are an issue for me, but I am slowly getting more and more acclimated to the weather.
When driving into Bangkok, all I could think was that this city is HUGE! I still am having a hard time grasping the fact that it is a metropolis of 14 million people, especially when I am used to cities of no more than 500,000 people, but I have a feeling that when I return in the next week, it will not be such a shock to my system, or at least I hope so.
As we get ready to depart from Thailand, I am asking myself one question: Why am I leaving United States? The United States have all the luxuries that I could want such as a house, car, a job and friends and family. In Thailand I will be living possibly in tents taking bucket showers and living with strange people I do not know. None of this bothers me though as I am going for a service trip to help others.
Most of this trip is to get a sense of what another culture is like and how they live. We have been fundraising to get students in Thailand supplies that are need for their schools as well as bringing school supplies to them. In class we talked about why we are visiting Thailand and not just using the money to get to thailand to donate instead. The purpose of the trip is to get a better understanding of the Thai culture and by helping with various projects. This trip is as much for them as it is for us. As we said in class, we will be helping to plant a rice field but our rice field does not do as well as theirs and it could easily be completed quicker by Thais but it is also an experience for us.
I have never been out of the country before and that was a main reason why I signed up for this trip. I want to see the beautiful beaches of thailand but I also want to experience another culture and help out when I can. I have been involved with many volunteering activities such as Big Sisters Big Brothers, Habitat for Humanity and a member of Kid’s Crew at Primary Children’s hospital. All of these volunteering activities have taught me something new and I can most definitely take something away from this trip.
Global citizenship to me is being aware of other countries and cultures and what each of us can bring to the other. We will not only be helping raise money for schools but we are also bringing a bit of our culture to them. We will be able share our different experiences and help each other out. It is important for a future nurse to have cultural awareness. I have read up on Thai culture but there is only so much you can read without actually experiencing it. I will not only on this trip be able to visit an HIV/AIDs clinic and note the differences but I will be more aware of cultural aware of patients I will have that are Thai. By going on this trip I may inspire others to make similar trips or promote more awareness when I return. All in all, I can’t wait to get to Thailand!