Three planes and 26 hours later, I touched down in RDU on July 13th.
The strangest thing I felt was how unreal Thailand suddenly felt. I had spent nearly 2 months there, and while my boyfriend drove me back from the airport, the trip was already starting to feel surreal- like it was a dream I’d had, and now I was finally awake.
Being able to understand the idle conversation around me, for the first time in months, was more comforting than I would have imagined. I remembered that I wasn’t an imbecile for not understanding Thai.
I can’t say I had reverse culture shock — I slipped back into my old routines and expectations the very next day without any stress. Though my sleep schedule has not quite adjusted, I am happy to be home. Being back in my own culture isn’t what was hard, but missing aspects of Thailand certainly have changed the way I view some of the things about being back home:
1. I miss the street vendors. Terribly. And I miss how further my money would stretch.
2. Our sidewalks are clean, well-maintained and even our “natural areas” are trimmed and kept clean. I miss the cobblestone sidewalks, the overflowing bowls of lilies, the untamed shrubbery that made Bangkok a much greener city than New York could ever hope to be. I miss the GIGANTIC trees that burst from the sides of buildings or mangled the sidewalks. I miss the chaos of lizards, birds, dogs and cats that were all over the city. Bangkok had more texture, had more life than the ghostly cleanliness of most of the sidewalks and streets in Raleigh.
3. The fruit. My heart is breaking for the freshness and glorious affordability and selection of the fruit in Bangkok. Everything there had seeds, even the oranges and grapes, and it suddenly occurred to me that our “seedless” versions of everything back home, are far from normal.
4. I will miss having movie theaters on the top floors of malls, rather than being stand-alone buildings. More than that, I will miss the vast majority of shops being mom and pop places, or unique independent businesses. The power of franchises and corporations is almost suffocating here.
5. Despite the impressive controlled chaos of Bangkok roads, it is nice to have smooth-running traffic back home, and know you don’t have to watch for motorcycles and tuk tuks weaving insanely between cars.
I will miss all the friends I made in Thailand immensely, and I’m already making plans to visit on my own the summer after next. Below are my two pen pals, Luck and Fisa, and I hope to keep my connections to Thailand strong throughout the next two years.
I’m so thankful that I was able to study abroad, and I recommend that anyone considering it should make the decision to go. Once you graduate and have a career to worry about, it will be near impossible to get a month away (you need at least that to really absorb and become more than a mere tourist) to travel.
I hope these blogs have been informative and entertaining. If I could upload my (literally) 18,000 photos and videos to this blog, I would. And there’s so much I could say about my experiences, but alas, time is short and I already need to begin preparations for fall semester.
My face has been plastered on these blogs enough, that if you see me around campus, feel free to ask about Thailand! I will be talking about this trip for a very long time, I’m sure.
Kopkunkaa so much for reading!