it’s been a very diverse week, including introductions into Thai culture and language, an insight into the Asia Foundation Center, and a trip to “The Beach” (Phi Phi islands). you wonder how these fit together? they have all been part of my orientation week at the PSU in Phuket.
on Monday, me and my fellow exchange students of diverse nationalities (most of them German or Scandinavian, others from Austria, the Netherlands, the U.S. or China) were given an insight into the organization of our studies at the PSU and we got to know several personalities who are involved in the organization. later on, we visited two of the most beautiful sights Phuket has to offer: Wat Chalong (or the Chalong temple) and Prom Thep Cape, which is a beautiful view point, especially at sunset.
on Tuesday, Mrs. Pimpaporn, who is not only the coordinator of the exchange programme, but in fact she is the one who got it started introduced me and my fellow students to Thai culture. Mrs. Pimpaporn is one of the most authentic people I have come to meet anywhere in the world. she is a very impressive lady with great personality: besides her obvious academic excellence and intercultural skills, she is one of the most warm and welcoming people I have met in my whole life. Learning from her is not only interesting, but highly inspiring! besides Thai culture, we learned some basic terms in Thai language, which was great fun and it makes Thai people all the more happy when you try your Thai on them.
on Wednesday, we went to purchase the school uniform, which, for most of us, was kind of… different. 2 facts that make it especially hard:
1) there are different skirt sizes, but these describe only the lengths of the skirts. I wouldn’t say that my waist is approximately the size of the Thai female students here, so I feel a bit funny.
2) shoes come in different sizes, meaning a 38 might be too big or too small but hardly ever is what you expect it to be. it took me about 20 pairs to find some which fit alright. so if you want some advice: take your own black (closed) shoes if you think about studying in Thailand.
Thursday was supposed to be the last day of the orientation week where we went to the Asia Center Foundation, a non-profit organisation which educates under-priviledged children who otherwise couldn’t attend school. after a very interesting video introduction on the Foundation’s project, and two heartwarming acts, which the kids had rehearsed for us, we got a chance to get to know some of the children. they were amazing and absolutely happy to have us around. many of us have signed up in order to do voluntary work there.
the Asia Center Foundation also offers positions to long-term volunteers, in both, the administrational and the educational part, so if you are interested, please visit http://www.asiacenterfoundation.org for further information.
as I said, Thursday was supposed to be the final day of orientation week, which, in a way it was. BUT: Asia Exchange had organized an icebreaking event for all the international students on Friday night, which was gonna take place on Koh Phi Phi.
the island is situated a 2 hours ferry-ride off Phuket and is very well-known, especially since “the beach” was set there.
to be honest, Koh Phi Phi disappointed me a bit, but then again, I am very spoilt concerning, beautiful, less developed islands. the party scene on Phi Phi is huge, masses of tourists are on the island and it is the first place in the world where I got constantly annoyed by WESTERN divers / wannabes trying to talk me into either a dive course or super cheap cocktail buckets…
many of my fellow exchange students went for them and happily jumped over burning ropes as a part of the fire shows at the beach that night. it didn’t get to 12 before i decided to call it a night.
but I guess, if you avoid the super busy part, there is beautiful little bays and the views on top of one of the many hills are beautiful when you made it there. (I didn’t due to being the only one person in the middle of nowhere and therefore easy prey for a herd of super aggressive monkeys (about 25 of them) going for my water bottle, so instead of getting attacked, I decided to just surrender, donate my water bottle (and everything else in my bag) and turn around instead of heading even deeper into the jungle.) anyways, I asked for permission to walk behind a little hut in the jungle from where I could see the bay. you can see some of the results below.
the trip back was rough. just as the previous day, the rain was pouring down on ever since the morning, but this time, it just wouldn’t stop until our departure at 2 pm. the waves were rough and loads of people got sea sick. I must admit, I would have been a lot worse if it hadn’t been for the travel sickness pills, so whenever you are planning to go: take those! they will save you a lot of trouble.
finally we arrived back on Phuket at around 5 pm and were left to whatever spirits it is which are watching over us, as we got on the mini busses. these drivers are dangerous! anyways, we arrived safely, if a bit uneasy and really needed a break before our first day of lectures at the PSU starting the following day.