We are so glad to welcome the newest members of the Xplore Asia family and share their stories from their first few weeks living in Thailand. Our new interns just came back from their weekend trip from Koh Pha Ngan and are back in the office, working away and preparing to welcome our next TESOL course intake. They have been in Hua Hin for just over two weeks now and would love to offer some advice on what to expect during orientation week and adjusting to life in Thailand.
Our new interns: Marti, Julia, Jane, and Isabelle!
What was your first impression of Thailand and how did it compare to your expectations?
Jane: I was surprised by the Western influence and how much of it there was. Coming from New York City, I am used to the hustle and bustle of a busy city that is not exactly clean. However, Bangkok was a whole different ball game. I also thought that Hua Hin would be a quaint little beach town getaway, but it feels much more urban. The city has grown on me quite a lot, and it offers so many wonderful things.
Isabelle: Here in Hua Hin, the busyness of the roads continue to surprise me, but I love the difference between night and day in the city. At night-time, the city is far less hot, which is reflected in the atmosphere: people come out to relax, eat, and drink at the many sidewalk cafes and restaurants. It’s so lovely.
Is this your first time traveling in Southeast Asia, and did you do any research before you arrived?
Jane: This is my first time in South East Asia. I did a bit of research but nothing too extensive. For example, I googled pictures of Thailand and Hua Hin and read a few travel books about Thailand. I also talked to my friend a lot about Thailand because she studied in Chang Mai in Spring 2015. I do like to keep things a surprise and I knew that Hua Hin would be different from where my friend was and from what people think of when they think of Thailand.
Marti: Yes, I’ve been to both Vietnam and Myanmar. I didn’t do much research because I assumed it would be somewhat similar to those other countries.
What was your biggest concern about living and working in Thailand?
Isabelle: I was mainly concerned about safety as a female traveler, but I have been pleasantly surprised to find that I feel much safer here than I did traveling in other places (sometimes even in the States).
Julia: I wasn’t sure what to expect but I knew it would still be an interesting experience no matter what happened.
What advice would give to someone who has the same concern?
Jane: For someone who is sort of “afraid of the unknown” and unsure about coming to Thailand, I would tell them this: everyone has fears and anxieties of the unknown. You are excited but nervous. I think if you even have a slight desire to go and see somewhere, just go. Otherwise, you’re always going to wonder, “What if I’d done that? What if I’d gone?”
Marti: Embrace it! Everything in this country is amazing, from the people to the food to the scenic landscapes.
Julia: It will all work out and even at times when things get frustrating at work, remember that you are still living in Thailand. Stay optimistic and positive about the experience and embrace it.
Isabelle: There are dangers everywhere, of course, but I have found that I feel very safe here in Hua Hin. It’s important to use common sense, but that’s similar to any other place. As my dad always states, “Make good choices,” and I think that goes for a lot of things – not just personal safety, but in looking out for others as well.
What was your favourite part of the TESOL Course Orientation week?
Jane: My favorite part was going to Hutsadin Elephant Foundation and learning about the elephants. They are truly amazing animals.
Marti: I thought it was interesting to hear the backgrounds of other people involved in the program to see what made them decide to come to Thailand. It was a great way to get to know everyone very fast. Feeding elephants is always a plus!
Isabelle: The Thai politics and culture class taught by the director Michael Volpe was a highlight for me; I learned so much in just those few lectures, and his enthusiasm and clear love for Thailand made me all the more excited to experience living in the country.
What was the most surprising part about orientation week and life in Thailand?
Isabelle: Thailand is truly a study of contrasts and some aspects of the culture can sometimes contradict one another. The fact that cars and motorbikes will not stop for pedestrians was surprising to me, but as long as you’re vigilant and patient, it’s not too much of a problem.
Julia: I was surprised by how busy Hua Hin is. I expected it to be more of a relaxed beach town.
Marti: I was surprised to learn about the background of the recent King that passed and discover the level of adoration he received from the Thai people.
What was the most challenging part about adjusting to living in Thailand?
Isabelle: How hot it is here in Thailand. It really does drain your strength, so drink lots of water, wear good shoes, and don’t forget to put on bug spray. There are so many bugs in Thailand!
Jane: The most challenging part was being jet lagged. I was so tired and went to bed at 9:30 pm every night.
What do you love about life in Hua Hin?
Jane: I love being by the beach and the abundance of seafood. The food here is really tasty and super cheap.
Isabelle: Recently, we went to the Grand Night Market for dinner, and I enjoyed it much more than the regular night market. It was far less touristy, the food was delicious, and in the back of the market, a gathering of bars with bright, colourful lights overhead was so inviting and peaceful.
What do you wish you would’ve brought with you to Thailand?
Isabelle: More bug spray! And long, flowy black pants for the office. Comfortable slip-on and slip-off shoes (flats) are awesome to have here because you’re constantly taking your shoes off and on when you go into any businesses or the office.
Jane: I wish I had more room in my suitcase to bring home some of the amazing things you can find in Thailand. The clothes here are so bright and pretty. There is a lot of color here, and everything is vibrant and cheery… I would LOVE to bring that home.
Marti: Most of my clothes aren’t fit for office life. I wish I had packed less so I could take advantage of the cheaper, more suitable options here.
Thank you to our new interns! We’re so happy that you had a wonderful TESOL Course Orientation experience and we’re excited that you’re here at Xplore Asia. We can’t wait to hear about the new adventures and experiences you’ll have while living in Thailand!