Thailand was “Thai-namite”

Sawasdee Ka, Thailand! You will remain forever in my heart.

The ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia are even more awesome with great friends.

I finished my last final at Mahidol University International College in Salaya, Thailand, today, meaning my semester abroad is over. (Yes, here come the tears). I can hardly believe how fast my time here went, and I’m completely heartbroken to leave my friends and this beautiful country. You could say I’m being forced out because my visa has expired!

Thank goodness, I’m done with wearing a uniform!

I have fallen in love with Southeast Asia and don’t want to leave, so I’ve extended my stay and will be spending a couple of weeks in Indonesia, and then coming back to the wonderful Kingdom of Thailand to celebrate Songkran, the Thai New Year, which is basically a giant water fight. I’m beyond grateful for the time I’ve had in Thailand. I learned a lot about myself since arriving here. I’ve learned to navigate all over the country by train, bus, and taxi. I’ve learned to speak some Thai. I’ve tried many, many new foods. I will always remember everything that has happened, the places I’ve traveled, and the people I’ve met.

One of the best things about my study abroad experience was meeting my amazing friend, Val!

So how does one measure three months in Thailand? Was it by the amount of fried rice or Pad Thai that I ate, the number of trains or buses I traveled upon, or the number of plane rides, cities visited, clothes purchased, and attempts to speak Thai? In any way, my time in Thailand was perfect. From sweating all the time, to going to the Seven-11 constantly to get food, to travelling every weekend – I would not change a minute.

No one was “crabby” while snorkeling in Krabi, Thailand.

I was able to travel to Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Ayutthaya, Kanchanburi, Pattaya, Koh Larn, Phi Phi Islands, and Krabi in Thailand, as well as Luang Prabang in Laos, Siem Reap in Cambodia, and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Next stop: Jakarta, Yogyakarta, and Bali in Indonesia, before I head home.

Boat rides, even boats that look like they may sink, were my favorite in Luang Prabang, Laos.

I was able to wash elephants, tour beautiful temples, witness the inside of a hospital (thank goodness for the health insurance I said I wouldn’t need), swim in turquoise blue waters, sun bathe on sandy beaches, kayak down the Mekong River, whitewater raft through rapids, zip line through the jungle, learn how to barter quite well in Thai, eat insane amounts of Thai food (I have no idea how I’m going to survive now when delicious Thai food is no longer available everywhere I go!), and meet incredible people.

One of my favorite memories was visiting the elephant sanctuary in Kanchanaburi.

While I won’t miss the mosquito-infested dorm shower or the odd odor permeating areas of Bangkok, I will miss Thailand completely. It is crazy that before I left to study abroad, I questioned if I should really go and if it was worth missing some of my favorite Marquette things, like basketball games, and seeing my friends. I’m very glad I decided to embark on this journey because the experiences I’ve had were completely surreal.

Whitewater rafting in Chiang Mai was incredible!

I went into this experience without any expectations (well, expect to see elephants). I basically just wanted to study in a foreign country and see what would happen. Anything I could have dreamed has been far exceeded by the real experience. It’s been amazing in every way! I’ve gone to places I never even heard of four months ago and have been truly open to trying new things. I never said “no” to any opportunities that came my way (I even ate a cricket!).

I will miss the “Pasta Lady,” and her fantastic cooking.

Who knows, maybe someday I will study abroad somewhere else. Until next time, Sawasdee Ka, Thailand. I love you and will never forget my study abroad experience.

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