Why did you pick this program?
Morgan: I chose this program because I wanted an adventure! I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and experience Thailand as a traveler not a tourist. The physical activities this program offered such as going on long hikes, caving and Muy Thai, also appealed to me since I have such an active lifestyle. I was intrigued by the community service aspect of the program and being able to give back to the people (and animals) of Thailand.
What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?
Morgan: Do it! Put aside any barriers that are preventing you from traveling and just go. You do not have to have everything planned, or even someone to go with, just figure the details out as you go. This world will be waiting for you when you get back but there is only so much time to travel. Live cheaply and go explore.
What is the most important thing you learned abroad?
Morgan: The most important thing I learned from being abroad is that there is no one way of living to produce a satisfied life. Growing up in the United States I thought that my country mastered a fulfilling lifestyle because we are known as a dominant country and have a steady government. In Thailand, people didn't necessarily have a lot of money or alternative resources but they were happy. The found peace in their family and nature and caused me to reevaluate the actual happiness of the people of the United States. I promised myself that I would not go back to Orange County and get sucked back into the materialism and demanding school and work routine, but to appreciate the things that matter in life.
What do you wish someone had told you before you went abroad?
Morgan: Honestly I am grateful that I didn't over research the program or Thailand because one of my favorite parts about my experience was figuring things out as I went. Also, I quickly realized that in Thailand nobody follows set plans anyway so being more prepared would not have made a big difference. If there was something that I wish I prepared better before leaving was learning the Thai language to better communicate with the locals.
What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?
Morgan: One of my favorite stories to tell about my time abroad was when I was climbing in Chang Mai. I am usually a daring person but when it comes to heights, I am extremely scared. Hiking was easy for me but the feeling I had looking in the deep hole of the cave that I knew I was going to soon repel down, was absolutely terrifying. Before I knew it I was strapped in and told to lift my feet to fall down; that was the scariest moment. However, I overcame my fear and repelling down hundreds of feet into a dark cave actually turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my lifetime. Getting a close look at the rivets in the rock gave me an overwhelming sense of how old the caves were and then looking at the cave ecosystem was such an indescribable experience. I felt as if I was in a different world, that was quiet, dark, and still.