Monday, August 25, 2014

Orientation and other stuff

I have been having such a great time and staying busy! On friday my school was hosting an event called Get Ready for ASEAN also known as english camp. Of course they insisted I participate! There were five schools including mine with about 30 students from each school and I found out about 20 minutes before the event began that I would be giving the opening speech since I knew the best english. So I quickly prepared a short speech with the help of my english teacher and got up in front of about 150 students to speak. After that we were split into teams with students from each school to compete in challenges. Since they were all english challenges my team did very well! I wasn't able to go to day 2 because of Rotary orientation so I don't know who won but at the end of day one my team was in the lead!
On Sunday we drove to Bangkok so I could go to inbound orientation and my sister Ice could go to rebound orientation (she just got back from Brazil). It was great to meet all the other students in my district though I didn't get to meet the boy who will be in the same city as me because the 2 Mexican students don't arrive until wednesday. All the students speak english so the meetings were all in english which made it very easy to understand. We learned about Thai culture, Rotary rules, and some Thai words. My host district only does exchanges with 6 countries so there are a lot of American students (12) and France has the second most number of students (4)! We all became fast friends and I am already planing a shopping trip with an American and French student!
I have been making lots of friends at school as well. My friend Lek stays at her grandparents house on the weekends which is across from mine so we play badminton almost every day she's here. And my friend Boss goes to his Aunt's house on Monday-Wednesday after school which is next to mine and we also play badminton. So I will be very good at badminton when I get home!Plus everyone at school wants to be friends with the American!
I am now taking private thai lessons every day after school. I just had my first one today and my teacher showed me all 44 of the consonants (which I knew most of) and the 16 main vowels. Tomorrow I will be tested on them so I have been studying like crazy! I hope these lessons will help me become fluent!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Science Day

The past few days have been rather relaxed. I now have my official school schedule which includes fun things like thai dancing, thai music, sword dancing (not with real swords...yet), and english (I like this class)! There are also some harder ones where I understand nothing like biology, thai culture, and advanced thai language but I'll get there! My weekend was also very easy, filled with reading and learning/practicing my thai. 
At school today it was science day! And science day is super fun! I didn't have to go to any classes today (not that today's schedule was hard with 2 music classes, 2 dance classes, and 1 english class)! I spent all day with my friends in the auditorium where there where booths set up by different classes with science activities and food made using science. We ate popsicle and candy made by science and wrote using lemon juice and fire. Then there was a fashion show with students showing off clothes they made from recycled materials! They were all great and some stood out as amazing from the rest (there are pictures on Facebook)! After lunch the drama students put on a play that I think was about a boy and a girl being friends and 15 years later getting married. It was only a half hour long and I didn't know what they were saying but it was fun to watch! 
Everyone here is so friendly and helpful. At school everyone I pass says hi to me and so many people ask to take my picture. I have had random students just walk up, say my name, and take my picture when I look up! And teachers want to take pictures with me too! It's kind of funny! Most of the people in my classes try to help me learn new thai words and my thai is really improving! And I cannot express enough how much I am loving the thai food and exotic fruits! It's all so good, except when it's too spicy like the jalapeño sauce I tried!
One thing I find odd about school is the dogs. There are stray dogs all over the place, while they are usually docile and avoid students, it makes me nervous when they come near me. It also make me sad to see so many uncared for stray dogs! I've noticed that some of the students give the dogs treats, some dogs will event do tricks which is cute to watch! But it's just so weird for me to see a ton of dogs walking around school with me the only one starring! 
This coming weekend is inbound orientation and I can't wait to meet all the other exchange students in my district! More on that later!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

First Day of School

So after being in Thailand for 5 days, I want to school for the first time today! And compared to my school at home, the Nongkhae Sorakitpittaya School is humongous! I only had part of my uniform, the skirt and shoes, so I stood out even more than I already would have. From the first moment I arrived, everyone was starring and giggling and saying "hello" as best they could. In the office they were trying to figure out where to put me and I think they were trying to ask me questions but I didn't understand a word they said except grade. They eventually decided something and put me in a class of 23 other students. The teacher had me stand in front of the class and introduce myself as best I could in thai. Then I took a seat behind a nice boy who immediately turned around and said "hi! You can call me Top" and suddenly everyone was telling me their names. A girl named Beer (I think her name is very funny) who speaks english came to sit next to me and she was a huge help all day. With the help of Top and Beer I was able to navigate the school and learn most of the names of the people in my class.
In thai schools you stay with the same people all day so I will get to know these people very well throughout the year. Even when we went to lunch we stayed together as a class and they showed me how the cafeteria works. Their school food is waaayyyyy better than school food in America! And there are so many options! Plus there is a snack store in building 2 that we can go to between classes.
i missed the first one or two classes while we were figuring out stuff in the office. But the first subject I went into was Chemistry. Even though I didn't have a clue what the teacher was saying I was able to understand what they were learning about since I already took Chemistry. Apparently the Chemistry teacher is very funny since everyone was laughing! Then we went to English class which I did very well in! We learned about global warming in english and I was able to help my group understand what the papers said. Then was thai culture which would have been a great help to me had I understood anything! Beer tried to explain a bit but I had no idea. This class seemed to go on the longest! Then was lunch! Yummy! After lunch was math which I also did well in because 1. math is universal and 2. It was Algebra II which I already did.  After math we were supposed to have art but no teacher showed up and we talked for that whole class. Instead of going to biology with my class I was called to the English Center so that they could help me figure out a schedule that would be more beneficial to me.
It was decided that I should do art, thai dancing, thai culture and english with my class, and thai language with the little kids. And next semester I will learn to play the piano! I wonder how that will go? Most of my teachers don't speak english and are nervous about me being in their class but I think it will be okay! I just hope that I still get to spend time with the friends I made today!
Also, tomorrow, I have to stand in front of the whole school and introduce myself. The english teacher will translate for me but I am super nervous. I mean this is a huge school with many students! I hope I don't do anything embarrassing!
Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day/ the Queen's birthday. To celebrate we went to a place called the Challenger in Bangkok. It was basically a giant indoor farmers market with local and foreign things. We did a lot of shopping. Clothes, shoes, purses, and great food! Tong and I bought the same pants without knowing it until we got home! I also got to see some cool things like silkworms making silk and a woman making the clothes she was selling. While we were looking at food I was sampling things and didn't realize that I was dipping a cracker in jalapeño sauce! That was a very HOT surprise! But I also tried this great candy that was super sweet and yummy!
We also went to Grandmother's house to honor her by bowing to her and giving her special flowers.
Then when it got dark there was a fireworks show right outside the house! It was so beautiful! They do a great job of celebrating mothers here!
I can't wait to start school! Just have to wait for my uniform and then I can go!
I'm having a wonderful time in Thailand! :D

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ghost Festival

Me helping make food :)
So yesterday was the Ghost Festival. The day that the spirits of the dead can come to earth and visit the living. It's celebrated with the whole family so I got to meet aunts, uncles, and so many little cousins I lost count. To honor the death they make tons of food, more than even Thanksgiving, burn paper money and clothing, and each person lights three incense sticks for them. Also, the food was arranged so that each dish looked very colorful and beautiful.

Of course, after the dead had been honored, the food had to be eaten. I was never not full yesterday. I think I gained a few pounds but it was all so good. Except when I tried the fish that was so spicy I was sweating and red faced!
In the afternoon I got to go see the rest of what my host parents jobs are. They not only have the crocodile farm but have rice patties, banana trees, and orange trees. It was all very pretty. And I learned how to say banana and orange!
My sister Ice has been giving me 6 words each day for me to learn and it's going very well. So far I've been able to remember the first 12. And on Wednesday I'm starting school! So hopefully I'll learn thai even faster.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The First Day :)

Day 1. The day to relax, unpack, and get settled in right? No. My day started at 8am when I got to try a squat toilet and Thai shower which was thankfully cold. BTW it is very warm  here but the killer part is the humidity! My lounges get stronger with every breath!
For breakfast my dad and sisters took me out, and where do they take me? KFC! It was great and they had some different things than the KFC in America and most of them where very sweet or very spicy. Then we went grocery shopping because they wanted to know what kind of food I like. But I didn't recognized hardly anything there and had Tong and Ice pick out foods for me to try! They also got me books to help me learn thai which was super sweet!
Back at the house I tried to help bring bags in but they insisted that they would do it and told me to go change into pants and a t-shirt for our next stop! Of course I didn't bring long pants so I borrowed some from Ice and it felt instantly 10° hotter!
Next we went to the crocodile farm where I got to see crocodiles so big I thought they where fake and babies that I just wanted to hold and pet.

Then we went to their school for the mother's day assembly and wow do they know how to do mothers day! There are mothers day flags all over the place, pictures of the queen, and at the assembly they had a speech and thai dancing performance. It was soo cool!

Our final stop was the mall! All day they kept asking if I was hungry and I finally said yes so they took me to a Japanese restaurant for lunch. It was delicious! Then we went to the biggest store there and started to shop. For most of this shopping trip I had no idea what was happening. They where going in every direction, grabbing a coffer mug, bathrobe and slippers, trash can, and a basket. All the while they were pointing to colors and asking my to say them in thai. I found out that they got all this stuff for me and my room. It was so nice! Then we went clothes shopping and I found some things (a dress, long pants, and 2 shirts). When I went to pay I found that my host dad already did and when I told him it wasn't necessary he said that I am his daughter now and he pays for his daughters! It was the sweetest thing I've ever heard! My host family is the best!
Home again we had dinner which was very good even though I don't know what it was. And Tong and I watched Harry Potter! By this time I was exhausted and had no trouble going to sleep!
Overall, great first day!!

Take Off!

Yesterday was a very long day for me. I left my house at 9:42am on Wednesday for SeaTac. There I met 4 other girls going to Thailand and together we flew for 11 hours to South Korea! This flight was okay for the most part. I got a window seat which was great but the guy sitting next to me drank 7 beers (yes I was counting) and 2 cups of wine before passing out for many hours making it impossible to get to the lavatory! And he spilt some of his 6th can of beer on my backpack! Was not thrilled at that. But other than that I got to watch 3 great movies, play games, and eat some surprisingly good food!
Once we got to South Korea it was smooth sailing. We met the other 7 students going to Bangkok and I found out that 3 of them are in my rotary district! :) I also got some cool pins to put on my blazer! On this second flight I got the aisle seat and mostly slept and ate ice cream!
In Bangkok we had an adventure trying to find customs because all the signs where in Thai and no one knew how to read them. Eventually we found it and every one made it through quick and easy! My group looked a bit odd after getting our bags because there where 11 students in matching blazers with carts full of large suitcases. I quickly found my host sisters since they where waving a big sign with my picture and shouting my name! It was so great and then the pictures started. Pictures of me with my family, rotarians, other students, and some people I didn't know.
I eventually left with my family and was so tired I didn't event realize they were driving on the left! As soon as I got home they showed me to my room and I zonked out at 1am on Friday!

Me and my sisters Tong (left) and Ice (right). They gave me flowers and this thing that goes around my neck.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Going Away Party

3 Days until I leave for Thailand!

Had a great time today hanging out and talking with my friends one more time before I leave on August 6th. I won't be seeing any of them for the next 11 months! I got to eat great all-American foods: pumpkin pie, chocolate chip cookies, potato chips, mac and cheese, Oreos, and mashed potatoes, mmmm! I have some amazing people in my life and I will miss them all so much! Thank you to everyone who came! :D

On another note, I've been talking with my first host family for the last week. I'm going to have twin host sisters the same age as me! And my host parents are crocodile farmers which I find super cool and a little scary. I hope I get to pet a crocodile! I just got my plane tickets as well; I'll be flying from Seattle to Seoul, South Korea where I'll meet up with most of the other exchange students from America going to Thailand and we'll fly together to Bangkok. I am so excited to get there and meet everyone!

I'll see everyone again when I get back and I want to know everything I missed!