Five Things I Learned During Orientation
Because the group that arrived in June was much smaller, 16 participants compared to roughly 70 in May, our orientation only lasted three days rather than the typical five. However, they managed to squeeze a lot of information in within a short period of time. Not only did they teach me the essential knowledge that I need to (or at least should) know, but I was also able to learn a lot outside of the classroom. So, without further ado, here are five things I learned during orientation:
1) Thai tea might be the best thing ever.
My palette was introduced to the magic that is Thai tea before the second day of orientation. We were eating breakfast in the hotel before we made our way to our orientation activities when one of the hotel employees offered us a small glass of Thai tea. My one friend exclaimed how good Thai tea is and immediately grabbed a glass. So I gave it a try. All I could say was WOW - it was absolutely amazing.
According to Wikipedia - so you know this has to be accurate - Thai tea is made up of Ceylon tea, or a locally grown landrace version of Assam known as Bai Miang. Other ingredients can include added orange blossom water, star anise, and crushed tamarind seed. It is then sweetened with sugar and condensed milk.
Is your mouth watering yet? It should be.
2) Bangkok is full of...smells.
Maybe it's the food. Maybe it's the dog poop. Maybe it's the fish market. Maybe it's a combination of one or more. Either way, most smells were unidentifiable and even more unpleasant.
However, there are also amazing smells in Bangkok. There were some areas along the street that were full of fresh, amazing flowers. It smelled like walking through Yankee Candle in the spring time.
3) The nicest people work for OEG.
I went through CIEE to apply and confirm my place in the Teach in Thailand program. However, Overseas Education Group (OEG) is their partner that handles the majority of the arrangements in Thailand. So, naturally, they were the ones that held orientation. There were five primary people that we interacted with during orientation. Two of them were Americans working for OEG in Thailand, two were native Thais who have had experience in North America, and one was a British man who has been teaching English in Thailand for several years.
Everyone at OEG was extremely informative and always went the extra mile for the participants. I always felt comfortable talking to them about almost anything. They were always there to lend a helping hand to participants and focused on building relationships with each and every one of us.
The OEG coordinators made the transition to Thailand extremely easy and prepared me well for the next five months.
4) Use the canal boats with caution.
One of the ways to get around Bangkok is by canal boat. These are basically the buses of canals. However, proceed with caution before using one.
Getting on and off is very tricky. Sometimes the boat doesn't completely touch the dock which makes it very difficult for those who tend to be clumsy (cough cough me).
Additionally, like any other boat, it splashes, especially when you go past another canal boat. This can be quickly fixed by pulling up the clear shade on the side of the boat by your seat. This information is helpful to know before you get on the boat.
5) You meet some of the best people.
A program like this attracts people of a very similar mindset. I met so many people during orientation that had an absolute passion for traveling and truly immersing themselves into a culture. Meeting people with such similar interests and goals automatically gives you a connection with them. To make that bond even stronger, we all got to actually know each other during orientation. I have began to make some of the strongest bonds I will ever have during the three days of orientation.
I am excited to travel with some people from orientation all over Thailand. After all, there is nothing better than sharing this experience with people who truly love and appreciate it.