Perspective of a Thai Exchange Student by Dani Fulkerson
In pursuit of American sports, challenging classes, and the opportunity to improve her English language skills, Sitapha Voraprasertslip, nicknamed Mimi, decided to study abroad her junior year of high school.
In Thailand, Voraprasertslip attributes her love for school to the structure of Thai classrooms.
“In Thailand, students stay in one classroom for all of the periods,” she said. “The teachers change classrooms and come to the students.”
This structure allows Voraprasertslip to never separate from her friends, who make her school days enjoyable.
The most surprising aspects of the American school system to Voraprasertslip are the wide varieties and large number of classes offered.
“I think the American classes available to students are unique,” she said.
Voraprasertslip also noted that American students “are more confident than Thai students,” which was a difference she admitted to not expecting prior to her arrival in the States. However, she did expect there to be more students, which she noticed right away.
Mimi is looking forward to taking part in American school sports, clubs, and after school activities.
“There are school sports in Thailand, but no extracurricular activities.” Voraprasertslip said.
Basketball and ping pong are especially popular sports in Thailand, she said. Mimi is looking forward to joining the Snider tennis team in the spring.
The most distinct difference Voraprasertslip noted between Thailand and America was the contrast in weather patterns.
“In Thailand there are no real seasons, it is summer all year long,” she said.
Voraprasertslip admitted to having trouble adjusting to the cold seasons.
Mimi acknowledged that her difficulty in cultural adjustment stemmed from the language barrier, despite the leading reason for her studying abroad being to improve her English language skills.
Despite these tribulations, Voraprasertslip has been able to overcome her difficulties and attempt new cultural experiences.
Sitapha’s favorite new experience in America has been camping. Her host family introduced her to the activity.
“I would love to camp out again,” she said. “Camping is very uncommon in Thailand due to the severe heat.”
Though Sitapha is in a whirlwind of new people, foods, and cultures, she misses various aspects of her Thai upbringing.
Sitapha mostly misses traditional Thai food, her friends, and her family.
She describes a typical Thai meal as consisting of rice, meat, and sometimes vegetables.
“Rice is the main part of Thai meals,” Voraprasertslip said, “some people even eat rice dishes for breakfast.”
Another large piece of Thai culture Mimi misses are holidays, her favorite being Thailand’s New Year’s celebration.
“It’s a religious holiday where families come together to celebrate the coming year,” she said.
Voraprasertslip will be celebrating the new year in America this year, which, despite its differences from Thailand’s New Year’s holiday, she looks forward to embracing the American tradition because she loves to “try new things.”