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  • AutorenbildJosefine K.

Holidays and week exchange

So the holidays started a while ago and I didn't update this blog because at first there was nothing happening and then suddenly I was very busy and too tired to update.

In Thailand the first school semester just ended (I arrived in the middle of the semester) and now there is a whole month of holidays.

On the first weekend of the holidays we made a daytrip to the south of Bangkok which borders the gulf of Thailand. There you can either take a walk around or ride a bike.

It was really pretty.

The next week I went to school even though we had holidays. I spent time with the German TA. We played a lot of badminton, learned Thai and watched a Thai drama.

It was interesting to learn that a lot of students still go to school even if it's the holidays. Either way because it's the holidays the canteen was closed so we ended up going to the mall pretty much everyday. (The exception being when we went to the 7 11). They don't really have a lot of Thai food so we either ate western food or Japanese.

During the time we spent at school we found the well football players saying hello in their language (Mama or Papa when you read it please show it to Lenni and Matti). It reminded me a lot of my brothers.

Now at the end of the week it was time for me to redo my visa. Through this experience I have learned that I hate renewing my visa. Before I even did my visa I had to take pictures first (which we did the day before). It took some while bit that is fine. My coordinator went with me to take the pictures along with her youngest son whom I befriended😂.

In the beginning he was very shy and didn't really want to talk to me because he thought I only spoke English. But now he is very happy to tell me about things in Thai. Though I often don't understand him because he speaks so fast😭. But it's fine.

Now to my visa. The day after taking the pictures my coordinator took me to the immigration office where we spent 6 whole hours.

And the most amazing news ever us that I get to do that again in three months... ...yayy who wouldn't love that.

After finishing the visa my coordinator took me out to eat with her sons. Her oldest son chose to eat at a Korean all you can eat barbecue restaurant.

Now once done with all my visa I got an incredible chance. Because my hosting situation isn't ideal AFS hoped for me to not stay with the host family for the whole semester break but to do a week exchange in the middle of it. A week exchange is a possibility to live with another host family and exchange student for a week and in another part of Thailand.

I went to Kamphaeng phet

The red marked pin near Bangkok is my actual province and the one further up north is where I went for my week exchange.

Now to be honest this week exchange was definitely in my Top 3 experiences in Thailand for now.

The family that took me in consisted of a host mom, host dad, host sister and an American exchange student. Apparently, the host family has been taking in host children for the past 7 years.

To get to them I flew to Sukhothai. It was my first time flying alone and I was so afraid that something would go wrong but nothing did. Now when I arrived I saw the most amazing thing ever... 3rd pic

ZEBRASSSSSS at the collect luggage thingy

*I do also want to mention that those moving walkways are very comfortable and funny (BKK airtport)*

From the airport I was driven to the Cultural Orientation Camp of the north because that was where the Ameraican exchange student had been for the past week.

Tbh I'm really glad I got send there first because I was able to meet my other exchange student friends from Germany and the arrival camp. I can't wait to meet them again at the mid stay camp.

Before I talk about my beautiful exchange week I also have some sad news. On the Camp I found out that one of the German exchange student didn't have a host family or host school anymore due to a misunderstanding caused by a third person and her visa was about to end. A few days later she texted me telling me that she had to go back to Germany because of it.

Now what I'm about to say might not make much sense from a 3rd perspective but Thailand and AFS is a little like corruption in politics. First of all a lot of host families are friends or best friends of the coordinators which creates problems for the exchange students as they can't really feel free to talk to their coordinator since first of all they won't receive an objective opinion on a problem and second of all it will directly be told to the host family (in a snitching kind of way).

For me I'm really lucky that my coordinator really wants for me to stay in Thailand and while I felt very bad for the girl and also shocked it was accompanied by gratefulness to not have experienced the same.

Back to the exchange week.

Before we wnet to were I would actually be staying we went to check out a historical park. Even though our visit was cut short by heavy rains it was still good to visit there.

On the day that I arrived we went to the Banana Festival. Kamphaeng phet (the province I went to) is known for their bananas and once a year they celebrate them for a week. They have a special market as well as a kind of parade with dancers and people carrying banana and a beauty competition.

The clothing that the people wear in the second picture is typical for the north. Culturally Thailand is parted into four parts. South, Central, North and North-east.

Generally we went to multiple markets and it is always fun to go look around.

We spent a lot of time just staying at the house but I didn't have any problem with that. I quickly found myself a favorite spot. At least for after 3pm. When I went there before 3pm it was too hot and just too much light.

Now eventhough I just said that it was till very eventful at the same time.

We went to national parks (where you have to pay 4× the fee for foreigners. It was really beautiful. I got to see 2 waterfalls and very pretty nature. It was really amazing (apart from the fact that it was raining the whole time).

I also got to visit a Thai temple and pray. You first start by putting those smoke sticks (Räucherstäbchen) on fire and then praying while holding them before sticking them in sand and putting up flowers as a present to Buddha. When you are done with that you put a little gold leaflet onto a statue.

I also went to the mall for a day and I never really connected Germany with cup noodles but you can normally get Ramen, ramyeon, Mama noodles (Thai cup noodles) or German ones.

One of the things the host family apparently did regularly in the evening is do sport together near the river. We went there twice and I got to see this amazing sundown.

Now the last day was to be honest probably also the busiest. In the morning we were invited to a merit (it's a Buddhist ceremony for bestowing mainly places with protection and luck). We went to the host mother's little sister's house. When there is a merit the closest relatives and friends take part in the prayers inside the house (which they invite monks too)

During the prayers you give certain things to the monks and here it is important to differentiate between male and female. Males are allowed to directly hand those things to the monks (without actually touching the monks). For females monks will put a tray or pillow on the floor and females will put it on the pillow from which the monks will take it.

Once done with the ceremony everyone (including the monks) will eat a meal together. Everyone puts a little rice on each plate designated for the monks.

After we were done eating we returned to the house. In the evening we took off again to attend the birthday party of the niece of my host. Actually the birthday party seemed to happen only so that all the adults could catch up but it was still quite nice.

The morning of our departures was really amazing. I woke up early to pack the rest of my things. When the host mom noticed that I was awake she told me to come eat breakfast first which I did. During breakfast she told me some more personal things which I didn't expect to be told on any way.

The host mother also told me that she was lovely and she really likes me and I have to visit before leaving Thailand. In addition I was told by the host father (who we called) that I made the host mother very happy during my stay and it just warmed my heart. She gave me multiple gifts before leaving. There is first of all a Buddhist lucky bracelet which was tied around my wrist. It's the same like the once I wore when I arrived. They are for luck and protection. And I also received traditional Thai jewelry made from coconut. She first showed them to me and then told me that she wanted to give it to me. I thought that she had spoken about one but she came back and handed me 1 belt, 2 necklaces and a bracelet.

I could actually tell you so much more about the holidays I had but I'm too lazy to do so. It already took me multiple days to write this update. I really need to figure out a more effective way of updating this blog.

I'm hopefully going to get some updates on the host family situation tomorrow and depending on what the news will be I will try to update shortly after.

I hope you guys enjoyed the holidays and I miss you all♡

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