I got my luggage from the terminal and the grad students who were sent to pick me up came walking up to me: a girl named Grace and a guy named Golf. They seemed very nice but also I thought, ”murderers look just like everyone else.”
and figured I could put up a good fight if they both tried to attack me. I had my pepper spray which was a nice surprise attack if needed. They walked me to their car in the parking garage. I figured this is where I may or may not die since parking garages seem to attract murderers in movies. However, without incident we all got in the car and began to drive.
whose English was great. I liked her immediately. Golf, however, did not say much, but then I found out why; he said I talked too fast and he couldn’t understand what I was saying. Once I slowed down my speech, I enjoyed talking to him too. They were both funny, I thought.
Kamphaeng Saen is in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand. It’s about 1.5 hours outside of Bangkok. I guess when I’d researched the school, I’d looked at Bangkhen (main campus) and thought it was the same as Kamphaeng Saen Campus, they sounded similar because they both had k’s in them. I don’t even know. I’m a disaster sometimes. Okay, more like all the time.
In Kamphaeng Saen, unlike Bangkok, all the signs are in Thai. It’s a rural area, Kasetsart means ‘agriculture’ in Thai. Nobody speaks English despite their having to pass an entrance English exam. Apparently most can read and write English, but nobody can hold a conversation.
It’s a small city which means my only way to travel is public transport, of which all the bus schedules are in Thai, the bus drivers do not speak English so I could not ask directions, and online information of the bus systems is non-existent. I was going to be absolutely helpless. I also found out I would be the only foreigner at this campus, maybe even in my whole city. Kasetsart Kamphaeng Saen didn’t have a foreign exchange program. All of this was very frightening, but I currently had no choice but to go with it, so I tried to remain positive.
As we drove past a night market and some very beautiful lakes, excitement returned to me. We had finally arrived in Kamphaeng Saen. Everything looked so different, the adventures I could have started running through my mind.
I hadn’t picked out an apartment yet. I’d had experience from visiting other countries in Asia that people posted pictures much nicer than the actual accommodations, and I didn’t want to commit to anything that I hadn’t seen in person. My professor actually rented an apartment for me to stay in for the first month. It was very kind of him. It was a nice spacious place with a super hard bed. Seriously, it felt like a rock..
as she didn’t want me to be alone my first 24 hours in this foreign country.
It was very nice having an instant friend around for those initial hours in Thailand.
Once I arrived I got to meet several different people- Big Golf, Tee, Ape, and others.
They were all too afraid to speak with me, Thai people tend to be very shy. Grace would chastise them and tell them they needed to talk to me which I thought was funny, but most of them just spoke Thai the whole meal. I was lost.
My new professor, Dr. Jao, gave Grace and Golf money to treat all of us to dinner, as a welcoming present to me. He could not be there the first night, as he lives near Bangkok, but it was a very kind gesture. I was instantly surrounded by kindness and love when I arrived which made all of the difference for me not to go running back to the airport. Grace stayed in my dorm that night and showed me the ropes of everything.
The next morning I woke up at 4 am and just laid in bed a long time, jet lag was a killer. Grace woke up around 7 and got ready, then I did the same.
Everywhere we walked everyone stared at me, because foreigners never come to this part of Thailand. I stuck out like a sore thumb. Another graduate student, Ape, picked us up in his pickup truck and brought us to the lab. The “lab” is more of a room, a very messy room, with a big desk where the grad students work on mechatronics or on their laptops. I never realized how beautiful and high-tech labs were at OSU until I stepped into this one.
“What did I give up??”
I finally met my professor, a very sweet 53 year old Thai man named Dr. Jao. I could hardly understand his accent at all when I first met him, and he couldn’t understand me well either, he told me that I spoke too quickly. I towered about a foot over him and everyone else in the room, all anyone could say when they met me was how tall I was.
first at a restaurant called Noodle House, and afterwards to coffee at a Traditional Thai coffee shop called Doi Chaang. I was still somewhat overwhelmed so I wasn’t truly myself the first day. I smiled and didn’t say much. However, the Thai food was delicious, I ate guay tiao gung (noodles with shrimp), and Doi Chaang was the nicest coffee shop I’d ever seen in my life. We headed back to campus after a very long, 2 hour lunch. Grace showed me around campus a bit since I was not yet a student and didn’t have much to do. Everyone, everywhere, stared at me. I asked her many questions. She joked that I was quite a celebrity. Grace had to leave that night, as she was a previous grad student for Dr. Jao, and now worked in Bangkok and had to get back to her job. I was terrified of her leaving. She was the only person’s English I could understand, plus everyone else was too afraid to even try to talk to me. I came back to my apartment, alone for the first time in the 24 hours since I’d arrived.
mentally planned multiple escapes from potential kidnappers, realized I’d applied for the wrong school, and moved into a new and foreign place I’d be living the next two years. It was 3 PM, which was 2 AM in the United States. Everyone I knew and loved was sleeping 9,000 miles away. There was no one I could talk to. I was completely and utterly alone in a country I’d never traveled before and all I could think to myself was:
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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