“My name is Abbey Gibson and I studied abroad in Thailand the summer between my sophomore and junior years. I am studying multimedia journalism here at GV, so what originally drew me to Thailand I will never know. However, it was the best decision I’ve made during my college career.
I wasn’t afraid to go abroad completely alone because this is something I had always wanted to do. The preparation was the hardest part, but once I got there everything was worth it. The language barrier did not stop me from communicating or doing anything around the city. Most of the Thai people I encountered spoke broken English and after being there for three months, I picked up the basics to help me get around. I ended up being a regular at one of the many food trucks that lined the outskirts of the campus and the woman knew my order by the time I left. Going into an experience like this with a positive attitude and the goal of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, you begin to live like a local and that enriches the experience so much.
One of my favorite memories from my time abroad would be chosen to star in a promotional video for one of the smaller cities near Chiang Mai. The producers of this video had the community come together and host a huge party for my friend and me. We ate homemade Thai food, got massages, learned some of their cultural dances, and got to play with the Thai kids that were showing us around for the entire day. It was such an amazing and unique experience that only two of us can say we had the opportunity of being a part of. A close second that really made me love this experience was interacting with elephants! The atmosphere as a whole, including the people, just made this such an amazing experience. The people I got the pleasure of meeting or crossing paths with in Thailand are the nicest people I have ever met. I never felt unsafe regardless if I was in a small neighborhood, big city, or even when I traveled alone afterwards.
Thinking back on my experience abroad, I would say the biggest lesson I learned was don’t judge a book by its cover. Thailand is a poor country that is completely different from the atmosphere here, but it is the most beautiful and influential place I have ever been. I never expected an experience to change me, but as cliché as this may sound: I went to Thailand and found myself. I can’t tell everybody what to expect or how to go about the process because we are all different; but, if you are thinking about going abroad, stop letting your fears get in the way and just do it. It will be one of the best decisions you will make during your time here at GV! I enjoyed my experience so much that I’m going abroad next year for eight months – there are always opportunities available, you just have to go out and find them.”