I decided to go on a whim and apply for a 6 week internship program in Bangkok, Thailand very last minute. I did not even tell my parents until about one month before I left to go to Asia for the summer. I had studied abroad before for six months in Barcelona, Spain, but was very interested to go experience how life is in Thailand. According to Pinterest, all of the islands and markets were surreal so naturally I had to go experience them for myself.
I flew in by myself into this foreign country, thinking that I was an experienced traveler from my six months in Europe, but boy was I in for a surprise. I landed at 8:00 pm the night before my program started and tried to hail a cab. I did not know any Thai and ignorantly thought that many people in Bangkok would speak English. Little did I know that a majority of Thai people do not speak English and are afraid to talk to foreigners. After using google translate for a never-ending hour and a half, I finally managed to get a cab that could get me to my hotel. It was definitely an experience trying to communicate with the taxi driver and tell him where my hotel was when neither of us could understand each other.
Fast forward a couple of days, I started my internship at a non profit organization called the Mirror Foundation, specifically working in their Happy Hospital area. The traffic is so absurd in the city it took me over an hour to get to work from my apartment. I started my trek by taking their metro to the end of the line, then getting on a local bus for 30 minutes and then finally walking to my destination. All of the different local transportation made me feel like a true Thai native even though I stuck out like a sore thumb with my pale skin and blonde hair. When I got to my internship there were many other college students interning, but all from different universities around Thailand. Thai people are very shy, especially around foreigners and especially around a new blonde girl. Therefore, it was very hard to try to communicate with these other students because they were not fluent in English and I did not know Thai, but that did not stop me from trying.
By the end of my time in Bangkok, I was able to get around and navigate, order food and speak small sentences in Thai. This experience definitely has benefited me in allowing me to expand my knowledge on how Thai people live, eat, work and play by completely immersing myself in an internship and community where I did not know how to speak the language. It challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and experience things with locals that many tourists would not be able to do if they did not interact and make friends with local people. I pushed myself to learn a different language with no similarities to English what-so-ever, and as a result opened the door to a new culture and a new career.
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