you probably hear things like “It was the most amazing experience of my life” and “Everything in that country is sooooo sophisticated and the people are so much better than they are here, you just wouldn’t get it “. Let me tell you, those people are liars.
Now I’m not saying that moving abroad isn’t life changing and eye opening and something that everyone should try if they’re inclined to do so, I’m saying that it’s freakin’ hard, and no one ever talks about it. Everyone just talks about their travels through rose-colored glasses and gives only the highlights of their trips and makes them sound absolutely amazing while purposefully forgetting the initial parts of how lonely they were, the struggles of adapting to a new culture, and the utter helplessness of having no idea what’s going on around you at all times. But there are also amazing, eye-opening, and mind bending parts of experiencing a culture first-hand.
Let’s go back to the summer of 2017 where this story begins. Now like the majority of college students, I hardly ever fully think any of my decisions and their consequences through, but at an advanced level: I’m like the champion of thoughtless decision making.
Call me an anarchist or a hippie or whatever, but I’d done the nice corporate internship thing or whatever and wasn’t ready to commit my life to working my soul away yet. I was a Mechanical Engineering major about to graduate that December after the semester ended.
So, I began looking for graduate schools that I wanted to go to. Looking at all the applications, I realized if I applied in the U.S., I had to have a GRE test score available which I hadn’t taken yet, so I decided to just start applying abroad since they didn’t require the GRE.
Less work, am I right?? I went on a website called IEFA.org which offered scholarships for students who wanted to study abroad. I applied to New Zealand, Thailand, Germany, and a handful of other graduate colleges.
They said I had great qualifications and they’d love to accept me.
They had a scholarship specifically for native English speaking students that I was the perfect fit for. Just like that, I thought ‘Great, no more grad school applications’.
I immediately started researching the school, and I’m pretty easily impressed, so I had no doubt that I’d like it. From what I found, they had a sizable foreign exchange student program which meant I’d have plenty of English speaking friends right away.
One of my favorite things about living overseas is that you instantly have friends as soon as you arrive. I’m serious, I’d show up to my international school and they’d ask me to come over and play at their house that night. Everyone was so transient, they knew they could be sent abroad somewhere else any day, so they wasted no time in getting to know you, they always welcomed you right away. I figured grad school abroad would be just the same.
thinking that I could easily travel on the weekends and explore Thailand since local round trip flights are only around $70. I Wikipedia’ed that all Thai students had to pass an English proficiency exam so it seemed that there was a great chance that I could get to know Thai people and culture as well! I considered that I would be sad to leave my family, but I had been living in Oklahoma the past 4 and a 1/2 years for college and they lived in Houston. I only saw them a couple times a year anyways, so I didn’t think it would be that much of an adjustment. I knew that graduating college would mean that all of my friends and I would have to go our separate ways so I thought Thailand seemed as good a place as any to start new. However, I didn’t fully commit. Yes, I pushed forward to complete the application process for Kasetsart, but I figured I’d apply to even more colleges and keep my options open.
I had a really rough semester taking senior design and two of the other hardest Mechanical Engineering classes in the same semester, plus a part time research job and a job at a roller rink at which I worked around 30 hours a week combined. By November, I got an official acceptance letter from Kasetsart University and my new adviser told me I’d have to apply for my visa immediately in order to arrive on time and to make it into enrollment next semester. I applied for my visa which cost about $80 and figured I’d completely commit to Thailand since I accidentally forgot to apply anywhere else.
I started looking up crime rates in Bangkok, they seemed low enough. My biggest risk seemed to be getting scammed into buying jewels, and considering I’d never buy a jewel in my life, I felt like my chances of that were pretty low.
The university had it’s own Wikipedia page and a pretty legit website and it was on Google Maps with four different campuses so I thought it was safe to assume it existed as an educational entity. BUT what if my professor is in the sex trade industry and the university doesn’t know about it OR he’s hacked into the email of a legitimate professor to kidnap me????
his email was on the university website as legitimate, BUT his Linked-In account name had an extra T which made me feel suspicious. I never completely allayed that fear, but I eventually stopped thinking about it and moved on.
Hello, I am Charissa.
I moved from the United States to Thailand
after completing my degree in Mechanical Engineering
to pursue my Master’s Degree.
I am the girl obsessed with Thailand.
You can read more about me on my blog.
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