สวัสดี! Hello! My name is Brie Mullins and I’ll be going to Thailand for the 2017-2018 school year. I’m currently a senior at West Jefferson High School and grateful member of the generous Columbus Rotary who was kind enough to sponsor me. For ten months I will be a proud representative in District 3340 located in the east of Thailand. I’m not fluent in Thai but I’m taking steps everyday to ensure I’ll be able to soak up as much culture as possible by learning what language I can before I leave for this adventure. In my small hometown of West Jefferson I participate mainly in the arts. Throughout my highschool career I’ve squeezed as many fine arts classes into my schedule as possible, participated in the theater program, volunteered to help for the arts council, as well as being a member of every band my school has to offer. I am excited beyond words to experience the culture of Thailand and to see how I will grow creatively and as a person during this exchange. I’m positive I will learn priceless lessons while abroad and I have only Rotary to thank for this wonderful opportunity!
October 1, 2017
I’ve now been in Thailand for a month and a half! September started with my host father’s birthday and, goodness, what a party we threw. There were so many people! My host mom, sister, and I cooked all day to prepare for everyone. At one point the entire house and their motorcycle shop below was overcome by the smell of food and at that point my job was to keep the dogs from eating all of our hard work. After the sun went down and the weather cooled, the people started to pile in. All the employees and their families as well as friends, relatives, and rotarians came. Karaoke ensued and everyone was either dancing or singing. After everyone had danced and eaten dessert, my host father went to the front to present scholarships to the children of his employees. It was so cute to see these little kids with clumsy hands run back to their parents with the envelopes my host father gave them.
At school, everything has been very serious because this was the last month before the semester ended. I was happy to help my classmates for their english exams and to watch as they prepared for their chinese and japanese exams. I haven’t learn much in the foreign language classes because everyone is preparing for the exams but next semester I hope to be able to actually study in those classes.
After school I go to a Thai class with two other exchange students, a girl from Brazil and a boy from Taiwan. We’ve made it our mission to try and find different cafes to go to before class when we’re together. My favorite find was this cat cafe and our weirdest one was this place that served fruit teas with cheese on top. Cheese. Sour cheese. I think I might have enjoyed if it wasn’t 90 degrees everyday where I live but it’s an experience I don’t regret.
Now that school has ended for me, I was lucky enough to be able to travel to a couple of other provinces. I headed north to Amnat Chareon for a couple of days where I got to take a few Thai Boxing lessons and live inside of a primary school for Thai kids ( which was great because my thai isn’t even as good as theirs) I’m currently enjoying the small city of Mukdahan on the border of Laos. I’m very thankful to have all these generous hosts and for allowing me this opportunity!
February 1, 2018
Hello, again! I’ve been in Thailand for a little over five months now and I can hardly believe how the time has flown by. There hasn’t been much of a change of season here, I wish I could say something about fall or winter but Thailand is an endless summer. It’s been so hot that my glasses fog when I go outside from being chilled in the air conditioner and then being engulfed in hot, humid air. You can only imagine what my hair looks like somedays.
School has started again and I’ve returned to Ubon as well as switched families. I’ve had a great time with this family these past few months and I’m excited to spend these coming months with them too. On weekends when my family has free time, we take the other other two exchange students in my club on an adventure with us somewhere in the province. Together, we’ve been to numerous cafes, quite a few temples, a zoo, and many saturday nights at the movie theater.
During the holidays, I made apple crisp and shared a big ole box of christmas candy from Ohio with my family, friends, and classmates here in Thailand. I think my host sister was the most excited about trying all the candy; half was a delicacy while the rest was trash in her book. It made my day to see face light up and shrivel with disgust as she dug into all that candy.
Now that January has past, I have just over a month of school left before summer break! My classmates have been kind enough to take time out to teach the other exchange students and I Thai but I realize these days are fast and fleeting with summer coming. On my last break I had an opportunity to live in a different province so I’m excited to see what these coming months bring!
March 1, 2018
Whoa, I’m six and a half months deep. It’s hard to believe that I have only a few months left but here we are.
This past month has been pretty eventful compared to other months. I went on a little trip with the exchange students in my city to a place called Sam Pan Bok on the border of Thailand and Laos. It was very sandy, windy, and as always, very hot. It was a an interesting terrain to navigate because you had to climb and make sure you didn’t put your foot into one of the holes that was present every 5 inches. There was lots of standing water and oddly dry patches of land in between the smaller pool of water that lead to the river. We ended our weekend trip by going to a floating restaurant in the Moon River when we returned.
The next couple of weeks wrapped up the school year, ending on Valentines Day. The entire school was free of class for the day as they said goodbye to the older classes. Everyone was passing out candy and flowers to us Seniors on out last day.
The next day was Chinese New Year!! The day started way too early, before the sun even came up. My host sister was smart and stayed home while I got up at 4 to go to 6 different temples before coming back home to have a late lunch with my host family and some of their relatives.
At the end of the day, I went to my Host Grandmother’s house to rest and receive one of the best parts about Chinese New Year other than the food, a small red envelope of money from your family! I almost forgot about this part of the holiday because I was so tired. Red is a lucky color so on New Year’s it’s important to make as many things as possible red or pink. This includes your clothes, the food, and even the envelope or paper you put gifts in.
After Chinese New year, I’ve been doing the same thing almost everyday preparing for the District Conference in Pattaya. That mostly consists of drinking coffee in the morning at the same cafe ( I am currently one coffee away from a free drink), reading, drawing for a bit, and then practicing a dance that we must all perform at the Conference. To get our stamp of approval, everyone in my dance group met up at my school to practice together this past weekend. It was a long and tiring day because Thai moms are really into those details. Luckily, my friends from another city stayed for the weekend at my house. We went on a day trip with my host parents and had some delicious Vietnamese food before they went back home.
Another part of the river I hiked with my host father at a nature park, a giant gong at the Entrance, a temple about 15 minutes away that glows at night.