My name is Aria and I am headed to Thailand in just 10 days! I will be a junior at Colby and am studying environmental policy, but more specifically sustainable development in Thailand. I have been described as a mix between a mountain goat and a mermaid… here is a photo of me~ (don’t mind all the bug bites on my legs)
As I think about my departure to Chiang Mai with ISDSI, I am stoked for the experiences that I am about to have. Over the past year, I have found a deep love for life itself, for the exploration of Mother Earth, and all that she has to offer. I also have become passionate about protecting her and especially her mountains. From my time in Thailand, I am hoping to have a greater understanding at the ways of life of the native Thai people and how they practice sustainable development in Thailand.
I have been looking into what is culturally appropriate behavior for visitors to Thailand, as I will be doing a 5 week homestay and do not want to come across as disrespectful. I am learning that the tiny tattoo on my ankle might be better off covered because it could be seen as a gang symbol or as some kind of magic, I am learning that moving items with your feet is considered dirty and disrespectful, and that if my hygiene is not extremely kept together I will be considered as a “unkept or dirty” westerner. These among many other things really open my eyes to how different life is going to be for me in Thailand for these next 4 months. I feel like this is almost like entering into the ocean; you are in someone else’s territory-someone else’s home. You must act with complete respect like you are a visitor in order to not upset them. You must not dirty it or act like you are of high status in it because you are a visitor. It is scary and exciting and daunting all at the same time.
I am a bit nervous about learning Thai and being able to communicate well, but I have been practicing my charades for my first few nights with my host family. I am going to try my best not to be disrespectful, but also attempt to learn and ask as many questions as I can while I am there so I can absorb all of the information possible. I am extremely excited for this experience and I will post again once I am settled in Chiang Mai!!
Thanks for reading!