Toes in the Water

Classes Begin

Week of January 9 – The week started off with the usual first day of school jitters as I started my semester at Mahidol University International College. Monday morning was hectic as I tried to tame my wild frizzy mess of hair (oh, the humidity here!) and iron my wrinkly uniform shirt that I’d finally pulled out of my suitcase!

The school offers a van service that picks students up from the house where we are in staying and takes us to school. I really appreciate the ride; unfortunately, on the days when I have an 8 a.m. class, this means having to be ready by 7:15 a.m.! My classes are interesting, and the amount of new people I am meeting is incredible. I met students from Germany, Australia, Kansas—and even Wisconsin!

My classes are Thai Society and Culture, Drug Use and Behavior, Literature into Film, and Economics. Each class seems like it will be fun to study—which is quite the change from the dread of studying Anatomy and Organic Chemistry last semester! I was surprised that I do not have a single Thai teacher. Instead, I have three American teachers and one from India. It is nice that I can clearly understand them, but in classes where I’m the only exchange student, I get called on often (which I’m not fond of).

Trying to find classes on Mahidol campus has proved to be difficult. The campus is the size of about four Marquette campuses combined! Campus is so large that it has trams and golf carts to take you to class—and even a large market that is held every Friday!

uniforms

Off to our first day of school at Mahidol University.

Beach Weekend

January 13-15 – Since it was only the first week of school and homework was limited, my friends and I decided that we would go to the beach. We agreed to go to Koh Larn because it was not that far away and people had said great things about it. When we were initially planning the trip, six of us were going. That number grew to 18, then shrunk to about 10, and we finally ended up having 13 people join the beach weekend. While having 13 people travel together seemed like a lot of fun, it was actually a challenge because everyone had unique opinions on what they wanted to do, where to stay, and when to leave. Hotel reservations were the most difficult to plan! In the end, we all made it work and had a great time.

We left Friday evening and took a van for about three hours to Pattaya. We spent the night in a hotel—where we had reserved three rooms, but when we got there, they only had two available! This meant having six people in one room and seven in the other. We pulled two twin beds together to accommodate three people per bed in our room. It was quite an adventure—especially since there were only four pillows in the room and no extras in the entire hotel (thank goodness my beach towel is very soft). For what we were paying ($8 total for both nights), the hotel was comfortable—and we could look past sharing beds—and dealing with a lizard that would NOT leave the room!

bus-station

Koh Larn here we come! It is a good thing we got a private van because we all are pretty loud!

In the morning, we took a ferry ride to Koh Larn. I was shocked to see hundreds of boats on the water in front of the beach. We ended up taking a bus to a different part of the island. We were greeted by sparkly blue water, the quiet lap of the waves, soft white sand, and not a lot of people. Perfect!

We swam in the water that was so clear you could see the bottom, even after you could no longer touch! The beach even had piña coladas served in real coconuts—so of course we ended up getting them (it was so worth it)!

After a full day and a sun burnt back we headed back to Pattaya.

pina-coladas-2

$2 piña coladas… I think yes!

In the evening, we went to a ladyboy cabaret because Thailand is known for them. Pattaya is known for having a large gay scene and their cabarets are raved about—so we had to see one! It was a fabulous show that included four ladyboys and an abundance of back up dancers singing and dancing for two hours. The show was free, and absolutely worth the hour of being lost while trying to find it.

lady-boys

Nothing says fun night quite like watching “Tina Turner” and “Liza Minnelli,” right?

Even with a sunburnt back and nose (I look like Rudolph), it was a wonderful weekend spent with amazing friends! Pattaya certainly was very different from Salaya and Bangkok, but it was still very beautiful. It was weird that in Pattaya, you could not find a cab anywhere—and if you did, they would try to get you to pay 500 baht, when it should actually cost (if they used the meter) less than 100 baht. We were also followed around in stores when we were looking to buy things. Definitely much more touristy than Salaya, which is a wonderful place with friendly people that love it when you practice your Thai with them. Pattaya was not like that—but it was quite the experience and I’m glad I went!

beach

Greetings from Pattaya—a fun place to visit, but we love Salaya more!

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