What to Expect from Your First Month in Thailand: A First-Time Traveler’s Reaction

I’ve been living in Thailand for a little over a month and the time has flown by! I’m LOVING every second of it. I’ve met loads of new people and have made some wonderful memories to take back to the states with me. This experience has been life changing and one I’ll never forget!

Any fun excursions in Thailand so far?

Because I’m teaching all week, most of my weekends are packed with outings. My groups from orientation got super lucky and we were all placed together so it’s easy for us to plan trips since our schedules are the same. I have loved every place we’ve visited! Early on we went to an elephant sanctuary, which was amazing! It’s called Elephant Haven in Kanchanaburi and they are doing AWESOME things there. I highly recommend checking them out. Over a long weekend, we spent time in Krabi. Words can’t describe how beautiful that place is! I was also able to check out Ayutthaya recently and was blown away by the temples and ruins. I’m looking forward to my last few weeks here exploring some more!

One of the stops in Ayutthaya. There is so much history to check out in this area!

What’s been the most thrilling part of your experience?

By far the most thrilling experience I’ve had was the longtail boat ride in Krabi. I felt like I was on a pirate ship! We were flying across the water with waves crashing up over the sides. I loved every minute of it.  We got to do some island hopping and everything was just so beautiful!

This is a view from our boat as we island hopped. The day was gorgeous!

Do you feel you’ve learned a lot more about the Thai language and culture?

I can’t say I’ve learned a lot more about the Thai language, but I’m trying! During orientation, we had a few hours of classes and that was super helpful. Since then I’ve picked up a few more things to get by. However, the best thing I’ve learned is how to give directions to a taxi driver! I have to take a taxi EVERYWHERE from where I live…even just to cross the street to the market because the roads are so busy and we’re pretty far away from everything. I feel like I’m always in a taxi so I’ve become pretty good at giving directions!

Thai Language coursework from orientation week.

What has been the biggest difference between Thai and American classrooms, schools, or education in general?

I’m teaching at a British International School so it is nothing like a typical Thai school from what I understand. There are a lot of similarities between my homeschool and this school actually. I have found a huge difference is the length of the school day though. I am only teaching a summer camp style program and the days are still LONG! We start at 7:30 and the kids stay until after 5:00 for clubs. From talking with the teachers who are here year-round, that is their normal schedule. Teachers are required to be here that entire time. That’s very different from my school back home. Another thing that stands out is the fact that there is support in EVERY classroom. We definitely do not have that back home. It has been an awesome experience teaching at this school!

Favorite Thai dish you’ve had?

I’m going to be super boring and say my favorite Thai dish has to be Pad Thai. The best I’ve had here has been in Ayutthaya. I had it at this little restaurant on a river and it was so delicious! I’ve been pretty adventurous and have tried many Thai dishes and snacks too. My favorite snack is the Thai Cotton Candy Burrito Pancake. It’s sweet and so good. I can’t say I’ve had anything that I disliked here, but those are my favorites!

Here it is! The Thai Cotton Candy Burrito Pancake.

What do you think you’ll miss the most about Thailand once you return home?

I’ll miss so much about Thailand when I leave! This has been such an incredible experience. I’ll really miss the laid back attitude of Thailand. It’s so different from back home and I’ve fallen in love with how easy going everyone is. In addition, my students will forever have a place in my heart. They are an energetic, kind-hearted group of kids that I connected with right away. Every day has been an adventure with them. I learned so much from working with them this summer. I’ll also miss the people I’ve met along the way. There have been a few people I’ve had the chance to really get to know and share some great times with over the summer. It’s going to rough saying bye to them!

These ladies made this trip unforgettable!

In reflecting on my time here so far, I’m amazed at how quickly I’ve grown to feel comfortable and fall in love with Thailand. It didn’t take long at all for this place to feel like home. The experiences I’ve had are ones I’ll never forget and I’m grateful to have shared them with some wonderful people. I’m so glad that I decided to go on this journey this summer! I’m looking forward to my last few weeks and getting out to explore a little more before it’s time to head home.


Katie Gentile, from Pennsylvania, is a Greenheart Travel First Time Traveler Scholarship recipientLearn more about Greenheart Travel’s scholarship opportunities to help you travel for a change!


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