I think back to July and it feels like a dream. From backpacking by the rice paddies of Pai, sharing mango sticky rice with newfound friends, or finding banana blossoms on hill tribe pathways, I found adventure on the other side of the world. Not only did I experience into a new culture, a new lifestyle, and language, but I found lifelong friends. I stay in contact with my roommate and other members of my group through social media. I talk with several of them at least once a week.
We all stayed together at the Chiang Mai Gate Hotel, which was well-known by locals and taxi-drivers, making it an easy trip to the university and a quick walk from all the weekly walking markets and food vendors. Whether it was attending school, getting lunch, or going out for the night, I could not have felt safer.
It's also amazing that a trip abroad can make me feel so connected to the rest of the world and have that connection be maintained. I learned so much and retain the memories through collected journals and photos. I was part of a program that helped me find fellow adventurers from all over world, bringing us together and showing us all that Thailand has to offer with weekend excursions and activities and the freedom to plan a few independent expeditions.
The program that I was a part of offered so much support, from pre-departure assistance and advising, to post-trip career support. I had a great on-campus advisor to guide me through the process of applications, financial documents, and departure checklists. As far as my time in Thailand, the on-site coordinators were always available for contacting, which was a blessing when I became ill and needed medical attention. I was unsure on getting medical assistance when I had only a beginner's understanding of Thai, but the on-site coordinator was kind, beyond words, to ride with me in the tuk-tuk to the hospital and sit with me in the waiting room while I saw the doctor and received my medicine. Also while travelling, the program linked us to "Thai buddies" at the university. These amazing individuals taught us so much on the local language and culture and we all had so much fun going out and exploring the city together. I consider them great friends and stay in contact with them to this day. I know that when I revisit Thailand, I have amazing people to travel with in future.
Now, post-travels, I have the support of fellow CISabroad alumni ambassadors and alumni relations coordinators in sharing my story. Through their guidance, I have learned how I can best use this experience in the path ahead of me, and as a result, I'm planning on applying to do my dietetic internship abroad in becoming a registered dietitian. I am also using my experiences to fuel my dream to practice nutritional education abroad.
I could not have been blessed with a greater group offering better support. I am beyond thankful. Thank you to CISabroad for bringing us all together in Chiang Mai.