- WELTBÜRGER-Stifter: YFU
- Programm: Schüleraustausch
- Land: Thailand
- Dauer: 10 Monate
- Name: Irmela
I was at the airport. The weather was good, and my family and my best friend were there to say goodbye to me. We ate an ice cream and then I had to say goodbye. Goodbye for the next ten month. First it didn’t hurt so much. But when I was in the plane I couldn’t do anything. I only could cry, because my family stood in the hall for visitors and waved to me. I was very sad in this moment.
But when I left the plane in Frankfurt I met a girl, which would go to Thailand too. She was very kind, and so we spend the time together. We had to wait four hours. After a while we met the maintainer of YFU. And then more and more the other exchange student came. And then, 22:45 our flight to Thailand (Bangkok) started. It was a very big plane. I never flight with such a machine.
I wasn’t sure, what I want to do with all the time there. My mother said to me, that it would be good to sleep. But I thought I was too excited to sleep. But this was wrong. After dinner I took my head to the window. Three minutes later I woke up. But it weren’t three minutes. I slept nearly the hole flight and now we got breakfast. It was very strange. But I was happy about this. After breakfast we had to fligh only one and a half hour. This was a short time.
Then we arrived in Bangkok. In Germany it was 9 am, but here it was 2 pm. We went to a hotel in Bangkok. It was a good hotel. I got a bedroom together with Paulina, a very nice German girl. At the next day we got a Danish girl in our bedroom, Ida, she also was kind. In the hotel we were nine German people, one from Denmark, one from Hungary, one from Sweden, one from Irland, one from the US and two from Japan.
The time in Bangkok was very nice. The most time we spend in the hotel and learned about Thailand and the culture there. And about the language. It was very interesting, but one problem there was. We all had a jetlag and had to get up very early in the morning. And the air conditioner was too cold, much too cold. It was very strange, to change the rooms. Outside were 40°C and in the rooms sometimes only 20°C. At the end of the four days we had a sightseeing tour in Bangkok. It was nice. And every day we ate this perfect Thai food! This was very good…
And then the big day (Saturday) came, we met our host families. It was a great thing for everyone. But I was so happy, because my host family is perfect. They are very kind and really open minded. And the best was, they are speaking English! At Saturday we stayed in Bangkok, visited restaurants and bought my new uniform for school. I look so dreadful! But what can I do… And I got my new name Chompoo (Shompuu). We slept at my brother’s home in Bangkok.
The next day we went to Sukhothai, my new home for the next ten month. It was so perfect! First I was a little bit afraid, because I heard so much about the homes in Thailand… But it was so good! I have my own bedroom and my own bathroom, and this is very important for me. I need a place, where I can relax. A place, where no other persons are. When I have homesick or things like this it is good to stay alone. And I have a toilet to sit with toilet paper. At Monday I had a free day. One day to relax and arrive.
My first day at school
And then, on Tuesday I went to school the first time. It was a nice and crazy day. The whole time the other students called “Farrang!” (foreigner) or “Chompoo, hello, here!”. And they all said me their names. But I couldn’t remember one of the names. Because all this names are nicknames, and all like the same “Dja, Bah, Djing, Best, Chang, Ah, Ang, Chui…” and over 50 names I cannot learn by heart at the first day. I think it would be a dreadful day, when I didn’t had my adviser. Sonja is a teacher at Sawan-Anan-Wittaya School and she takes care of me. She tells me where to go and what to do.
The first two hours I went to Thai Cooking. It was very interesting. We cooked “Jok manii”, a Thai sweet. The girls were really kind, but I couldn’t understand Thai and their English wasn’t the best. But for cooking it was ok. After Cooking I went back to the office and learned Thai, together with Sonja. I had to write the letters. Then I had break and bought lunch. Today I ate it with Sonja in the office, but the next days I would eat it in the big MENSA.
After lunch I went to the Mathematic-lesson with grade six. I was so happy, that I could choose maths. But then I saw, that it was too advanced for me. Grade 6 is the highest grade in school, like the class 12 in Germany. And so I understood nothing. Because I felt very bad, because I love maths. The next lesson was English with class 6.1. This was very simple. It was the first time in my life, when I thought that I can speak a good English., because the things we’ve done we do in Germany in the 7 or 8 class. So I understood everything, what was in English (the part in Thai I didn’t understand).
Getting to know my new home
The next days were really interesting too. I met many new students and family members and forgot there names over and over again. But they were patient and introduced themselves so often I want. I didn’t have a schedule. Every day I went to the office and asked Sonja were to go now. Then she said me the class and the room and I went there.
Sometimes it was really good, but sometimes it wasn’t good, because I didn’t know anyone. But after a while I got new friends in class 6.1. So I tried to choose the most lessons with them. Not the last, because they could speak the best student-English in school. And it was also very nice, because they spoke to me. The younger students were too shy.
At the weekend I went with my family to the neighbour province Phitsanulok to shopping. It was really nice, I bought so many things and we ate a lot of Thai food. I watched with my sister the new twilight movie in Thai language in the cinema. It was very strange, because I understood only ca 5 words. But I read the books so often, that I understood the movie’s action.
At the next day I felt sick. That was bad, because I vomited. I lay in my bed and hoped that it will be better soon. On Monday I felt the same like the day before. So I stayed at home. On Tuesday my mother went to the doctor with me. I didn’t want, but she said I have to. It ways a very new experience to see, how is a doctor in Thailand. It was a big room. In the anterior part there were some chairs to wait. Then there was a little wall with a swinging door and behind this were the doctor. So everyone who was waiting could hear what the doctor spoke with his patients.
On Wednesday I felt nearly good and went to school again. Now I knew some students and remembered a few names. The next days were nice. I ate lunch every day with other students and learned a few new words and forgot them again.
The next weekend wasn’t special. We went to Phitsanulok again for shopping. In the evening we visited friends. But this we’ve done very often. It’s normal in Thailand to have dinner with your friends. So I also met so much new persons. I liked, when we visited my uncle. His daughter Pan is 14 years old and very kind. I don’t know why, but her English is really good. I like her. We have fun together, she helps me with Thai language and I show her to play the guitar.
Sport week at school
Monday was a great day. It was the start of the sport week in my school. Every year there is a week in my school only for sport. That means, the school sport teams play against each other. There were many kinds of sport, like Volleyball, Basketball, Badminton, Football and some like this. I got up 3 am, because it is tradition, that the sport week begins with a great parade So my mother took me to a house, where I got a very beautiful make up.
Then I got a costume and then I had to wait with the other girls till 8 am. This was really dreadful, because I was so tired. But I couldn’t lean my head anywhere because of the complicated hairstyle. But then the parade started and we walked along the street. I walked nearly in front of all and anywhere stood the Thai people and took photos. A boy from my class told me, that he had never seen, that a “farrang” is a part of the parade. After the Parade we went back to the make up place and I put my PE clothes on. I was so tired. But the others went to school too and so a boy took me with his motorcycle to school. There I met Sonja and Felix.
Felix was an exchange student too, two years ago. I met him the first time in Germany on the Preparatory meeting. It was really nice to meet someone who speaks German, someone I know. Sonja said, that I didn’t have to do sport like the others now. She called my mother and so my Mother picked me up and I could sleep. The hole week was fun. We could do what we want. But my class was really exemplary.
We didn’t sit down anywhere. We stood at the edge of the pitch and danced for our team. It was really fun. One thing wasn’t good. I got a hard kind of sunburn. It was so funny to see, what happened when the sun shone. In Germany everyone goes in the sun, when it shines and wears only the important clothes. Here it was so hot, 40°C degrees and all students wore long jackets, pullovers and hats.
At the end of the week my colour (violet) won some trophies. It was great, we were so happy! Then there was a show. Every colour (there were 6 colours) prepared things for the show. It was great, they danced and sang the school hymn.
It was very long, till 5 pm. After this I danced with my colour on the football pitch we took photos and were very happy. Then a boy asked me, if I want to come to a party with the class. I said, that I have to ask my mom. I was very surprised by this, because I heard, that party wasn’t normal here. I went home and three boys picked me up at 7 pm. It was a great event. We went to a restaurant and ate Thai food. Then we sat there, talked and were happy.
It was so great for me, because I think in Germany we never would do something like this. The students here needed more than a month to prepare the show for the school. And they took their whole time for learning the songs and dances and practised this very often. And then they met after this week. I think in Germany very seldom a hole class meet outside the school. And when we would do this we don’t go to a restaurant.
Family trip to Bangkok
At the next day I went to Bangkok with my family to visit my brother. It was a long weekend, four days because of a Buddha day. In Bangkok we were shopping and then we went to my brothers stadium to see a football play. My brothers team lost. But it wasn’t so bad, because it wasn’t an important play. After this we went to eat. A great and expensive dinner.
Then we went to my brothers home and I went out with my brother and one of his friend, a nice event. The next day we went shopping and in the evening we went to a big and really expensive restaurant. There was a concert of the famous Thai singer. He doesn’t write songs by his own. He copies famous singer like Michael Jackson or The Scorpions. It was really fun!
On Monday we went back to Sukhothai. The first month was great. I met so many new persons, I had fun, I was homesick. It was perfect. I’m very happy, because it is so much better then I expected. I was homesick, but only a little. The language I cannot speak now, but I understand some words and I think I can learn it. It’s not impossible. Last Friday a girl from Mexico arrived. She is an exchange student too, so I’m not alone. After one month I can say, it was the right decision to got to Thailand, I don’t regret it.
The second month
„Sawadi kaa“. This is a word, what is now more normal for me then „Hallo“. This second month was not so special like the first, but it was also very well. Ok, I stopped at the last weekend. On Monday we went back to Sukhothai. I was a little bit sad, because I love Bangkok. I love this big city with the many different people and the taxis in all colours.
And I hate to go so long by car. We need 6 hours form Bangkok to Sukhothai. And every time my stomach feels sick. In the car I was suddenly very homesick. I tried not to cry, because I didn’t want, that my family sees me sad. So I tried to sleep and to look out of the window. I was really happy when we arrived. We needed 7 hours, because my father felt sick and we had to go to the hospital.
It’s also very strange for me, that every time they feel a little bit sick go the hospital. I prefer to wait a few days and go then to the doctor. I was homesick and was happy, that I could go to school on the next day, because I would have something to do then. But then my mother said, that I would stay at home on Tuesday.
On Wednesday I could go to school. But in school after the morning-prayer and the national hymn my friends told me, that they would have big exams the hole week and no school. So I went back home and had holidays the whole week. It was really boring, because I had nothing to do. So I hang on the computer and watched a lot of movies on the internet.
On Saturday we visited my uncle. He bought two big trees and we had a great dinner because of this. It was so a nice evening. There was only the problem with the mosquitoes. Sometimes I think, they would like to kill me! My whole body is full of the mosquito bites. I hate it. I hope, that it will be over soon.
My everyday life at school
The next week I went to school. My schedule was not really good. Every time I went to the office and asked Adjan Saranja (my adviser), where to go now. But after a while it became structure. I had quite often lessons where I sit in the office and learned Thai by myself. But sometimes I could go to the class. It was really funny, because the lessons were not like German lessons.
When we had two periods Computer lab the teacher spoke 20 minutes and the other time we could go to internet or do whatever we want. It was really strange for me, because I expected a very strict kind of school. I thought that every student would sit straight and listen to the teacher. But this was wrong. Most of the students don’t listen to the teacher. They play games on their mobile phone or chat together. But they have a lot of homework.
I’m wondering, why they don’t learn more in school. Then they would have a lot more freetime and could spend this with their friends. But it’s their decision. I don’t have to do this. But I think for them is school the fun. Their friends are there and there they have fun and home is the place to learn.
Meeting new friends
In this second week happened a really good thing! The girl from Mexico came to school. She arrived 10 days ago and on Thursday she went to school the first day. She is really nice. From the first moment we were good friends. She is 16 years old, like me. Her name is Fernanda, but she got like me a Thai-name, Ganda. So we went to the classes together.
And also very nice was, that we met on Friday afternoon after school. We watched “The Lord of the Ring” and spoke about our life in Thailand, Mexico and Germany. It was so nice to have this kind of afternoon. I miss it a lot to meet my friends after school, to watch movies with them, to speak about problems and have fun together. Here I spent nearly the hole time with my family and this is very boring. But it is Thai style. But since Ganda arrived I had more fun with her, not only with my family.
At school my life was suddenly interesting and I could laugh so much with Ganda. It was so funny when we went to lunch or to a lesson in school, because everyone was watching us. We were the famous thing, the two “Farrang-Girls”. And when we had no lesson we sit in the office and learned Thai together or sit in the sun and ate ice-cream. And every time, when we sat in the sun the other students came and said we should sit in the shadow, the sun would be bad. Nobody understood, that we like the dark skin.
The students here use the whole day so called “baby powder” to look more white. When Ganda saw this the first time I laughed so much about here face, because I remembered how I felt, when I saw this the first time.
Adventures in Pitsanulok
On Saturday I got up very early because we went to Pitsanulok, the neighbour- province, in a beautiful hotel. My father had a meeting there. I got a bedroom with my host sister.
We arrived and had lunch. It was very delicious and the hole afternoon I had free time. I called my grandmother and walked a little bit around in the park and saw the beautiful nature. It’s so great! The hotel was in the jungle, so I saw so nice plants. The park wasn’t like jungle, more like a king’s garden. The palm trees and the other plants like pictures on postcards. And the big butterflies!
Then I slept a while and after this we had dinner. We went to the biggest hotel building and there where elephants, we could give them food. There was one elephant-child and one baby elephant. It was so cute! But it was really strong. It was a big dinner, together with my father’s “manager-colleague “. And then I should sing Karaoke! I was so afraid, but then it was fun. On the next day we got up early again, because we had breakfast at 7:30 am in the hotel. After the breakfast we went to a river in the jungle to go to a rafting tour.
And there waited two boats. We were 16 people, so in every boat sat 8. Then we started. The first part of the river was quiet and gentle and I wondered what should be so famous. The nature was really nice and so beautiful. It was like a dream . The sun was shining and all around us the green dark jungle and we sat in the boat and swam over the brown water. At one place in the river it was very gentle and my mother said I could go swim, if I want. First I thought, she would be joking. But then she jumped in the water, wearing her normal clothes. So I did the same. And it was great! The water was warm and the sun shone so nicely.
After a while we went back into our boat. Now I was really confused, why we wore a helmet and life jacket. But then suddenly I understood. The river became stronger and we should hold each other so that nobody gets lost. It was like an adventure movie. It was also really dangerous, but I had a lot of fun. The river changed every time his strength. Sometimes it was gentle and lovely and then suddenly it was wild and strong. And then our boat crashed against a little tree inside the river and cancelled.
The water threw the most of us out in the river, only I and a Thai boy stood in the boat on the tree. I don’t know why, but I wasn’t afraid about my life. Only about the others. So we waited a while and then a few people came to rescue us. It was a big adventure, because the river was to strong. Nobody could swim. So they threw a rope over the water and we fixed it on the tree. So I hold myself on the rope and survived the water. My host mother was really afraid, but after a while it was ok.
Spending Mother’s day with the family
After this big adventure we went back to Sukhothai. It’s really nice. When we arrived there I felt like be home. It’s not longer a place for holidays or something else, now it is my new home. The next week was not special. I went to school and learned Thai, had fun with Ganda and felt more and more normal here. It was nice, because I saw my new friends. We ate lunch together and one of the girls, Honey, gave me often little gifts. She is so cute and she takes care of me.
But the week was short, because on Thursday was mother’s day. So the school closed and on Wednesday evening I went with my father and my sister to Bangkok. We slept one night in my brothers house and went on Thursday to my grandmother, where we met my host mom. It was a nice big family meeting. I met my new aunts and cousins and I met my great-grandfather. He was in Germany in 1974 and lived there for three years. So he could speak German. Now his German isn’t so good, and it’s really hard to understand. But it was nice to see, that someone in my family knows Germany.
In the evening we ate in a nice restaurant and slept then in my grandmothers house. On the next day I felt sick. I tried to ignore it and we went to buy a new car. In the store I failed, and this was dreadful because my parents wanted to take me to see the doctor. But I could change their mind. When we were back I slept a while and then I felt better. In the evening we went shopping and ate big dinner again. On Saturday we went back to Sukhothai.
More international friends
The next week was a normal week again. We had school all five days (it’s not often here). My schedule became structured, this was nice. On the weekend we went to Pichit, because my host brother had a football match there. Pichit is near Sukhothai and one of my German friends lives there. So I tried to connect to her. The problem was, that my parents said me one hour before we started, that we will go there. So I wrote her an e-mail and hoped, that she would go online soon. Then my mother called YFU and they gave her my friends number.
So we met in a restaurant in the evening. It was so nice to meet a German friend! And it was very strange to see the difference between us and our families. I’m so happy here and she was very sad. Her family was very poor and she felt very bad there. So she stayed in the hotel with us for one night and we spoke till 4:30 am.
On the next day we went to a market together and had nice day. We ate so much, that we couldn’t walk and in the afternoon we saw the football match. My brother lost. In the evening we had to say goodbye, but I’m sure that we will visit each other again.
On Monday I went to school normally and then I saw two new “farrangs”. And I remembered, that we should get two new Mexicans. They are so nice! A girl and a boy. On the same day we became very good friends and we met in the afternoon. There was only one problem. Ganda and the other two Mexicans could speak Spanish and so often I sat there and understood nothing. But it was nice to have three friends which miss the western style too.
The meeting with friends in the afternoon, the hugs between friends and the parties. So we had a really nice week and suddenly I could laugh. Because in the first two months I never laughed really. In Germany I every time loose tears when I laugh, but here not. And then, when the other Mexicans came I could laugh right at last. So we had a really nice week.
On Friday I went to Ganda again and slept there. And on Saturday in the morning Yazz (the other Mexican girl) came and we spend the day together. In the evening Jesus (the Mexican boy) came and we had such a nice evening. We drank coconut. Yazz and I slept in Gandas house again. On the next day my father picked me up and I relaxed the whole day.
So, this was my second month. It was a nice month. I had a lot of adventures and started to feel at home here. I got really good friends now and I’m sure, that I will have really much fun in the next month here. Now I cannot speak Thai, but it becomes better and better. Maybe in one or two months I will understand the most, maybe not. I will see.