Sawadeeka! Chan shoo Rebeca, chan pood pasa thai nid noi! : Hi! My name is Rebeca Lopez and I can speak a little Thai. I am currently studying abroad in Thailand and I will not try to sum up my experience into one blog because I don't think that is possible. Instead I want to talk about one of the many amazing experiences I have had: my homestay.
My homestay experience was much more than I had expected. Initially I was extremely nervous because my Thai is still a work in progress but by the end of it I didn’t want to leave. My host family consisted of my host mom and her older sister so it actually felt like I was having a girl’s sleepover (especially since we watched TV and ate tons of snacks almost the entire time). What surprised me the most was how easy it was to get comfortable with not only my host family but the community as well. After taking some time to reflect on this I realized that the Thai culture reminded me so much of my own upbringing (Latino culture), that feeling "at home" came easily to me.
One example is the fact that people felt completely comfortable walking into each other’s houses to borrow cooking supplies or simply to watch a soap opera together. If you are familiar with Latino culture, you know that privacy is almost nonexistent so while I was shocked, I was comfortable with this. Another example is friendliness. My first night there two neighbors had dinner with us and they treated me as though I had known them for months. I communicated as best I could with them but they definitely had no shame in laughing at all the mistakes I made. What I appreciated was that instead of making fun of me they helped correct my mistakes. My family at home does not hesitate to joke around and laugh at the foolish things I do but they always do it out of love and I felt that same atmosphere in my homestay.
Lastly, both Thai and Latino culture do not have a sense of time. In other words: we are always late. This does not apply to everyone of course but for the most part I have learned that times are not set in stone. It is normal for class to start 25 minutes late or for someone to show up half an hour after they said they would or sometimes not even show up at all! It was frustrating at first but you learn the Thai way of "Mai Pen Rai" (dont worry about it/its fine/who cares!) I have loved this opportunity to immerse myself in such a different yet similar culture so if you are hesitant to study abroad I encourage you to do so while you have the chance. The Thai community here has truly become a home away from home.