Why did you pick this program?
I initially heard of International Student Volunteers (ISV) when I attended the University of California, Davis last year (I transferred to Lawrence University this year). After attending an info session, I traveled home for a weekend and discovered one of my best friends from high school was interested in the program as well. This is how I chose to do it with them.
What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?
I tell them how wonderful an opportunity to go abroad is. It makes you appreciate other people and their culture, language, and way of life. It also makes you appreciate your way of life and the privileges you have. Not only do you get to make a connection with new people from a different background, but you get to make experiences that you'll remember the rest of your life.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I would say don't be afraid of the bugs because there are many of them, bring lots of mosquito repellent and apply at least three times a day if you don't want to get bit too much, be open to new cuisine, don't get paranoid about hygiene or cleanliness, and take lots of pictures of the plant and animal life there as well as the people. You can never take too many pictures.
What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?
My favorite story is of these lizards that looked like comodo dragons, but weren't exactly as large that followed me and my friend around Bangkok. One recommendation, do not go to the zoo in Bangkok. They are loose everywhere and they do follow people like they followed us.
Outside of the zoo, we kept running into them on the streets. There were two that climbed up a tree right next you us as we were walking up a bridge one time. We ran because we were so scared of their hissing.
What are the vaccinations that you would recommend we get for a trip like yours?
Honestly, you don't need as many as the traveling agency says. I was "supposed" to get the Japanese Encephalitis vaccination, but it is really unnecessary especially if you take the proper precautions to avoid getting bit. Use permethrin on your clothes and suitcase. It works wonders and prevents bites. The only vaccinations you really need are the tetanus, hep A&B, typhoid, and malaria (optional).