This week was a long week. It was different from the other weeks here that were full of trying great food, cliff diving, and just hanging out. This week was actually stressful, and for my first time in Thailand I remembered that this journey was not for vacation or to be a tourist, but this journey was for school.
Although I’ve had small assignments all throughout the semester nothing I had to do caused me as much stress as this week because this week consisted of finals and midterms. The semester here is divided into two parts. Some classes are only taken in part one but they are six hours a week and therefore there’s just more information squeezed into a short amount of time. Other courses are the whole semester so they are only three hours a week. This Monday that just passed marked the beginning of my long journey through papers, long hours of practicing Thai, and reading from sun up to sun down.
The final that caused me the most fear was my Thai language final. Speaking the language is something that has been hard for me to grasp all year. The final had two parts, an oral part and a written part. I began studying a little everyday starting from this past Saturday, but when Wednesday came and it was the day of my final I still felt unprepared. I woke up at 7a.m. and studied until 1:30p.m… I decided not to even break for lunch. My goal wasn’t even to get an A, it was just to pass and feel as if I knew something more than hello in Thai. I have to say, I went into the room sweating but came out relieved. I wasn’t perfect and some of the Thai words escaped me because the course was only eight weeks long, but all of the hours I put in made me reach my goal. I found myself staring off as I searched the corners of my brain for the correct tones and the correct words in Thai. I scrunched up my face as I stated my final answers in uncertainty, but at the end I let out a breath of relief when my ajan said “You did good. I can tell you work very hard, but you still have your native tongue.” Although I still said my words with my American accent I was just happy that I did okay. My ajan has been speaking English for years upon years, and he still holds his Thai native tongue, so what can be expected of me in just a short two months. I was just thrilled to have finished.
On top of the Thai final I had a minimum nine page paper due and a take home midterm for my globalization of Southeast Asia class. They both took a long time because throughout the semester I found myself slacking on all of the 200 page reading assignments given throughout the week. But somehow, before I started writing my paper, I sat in my room Monday night until Tuesday afternoon and I read enough out of my books to be able to write a paper that I felt confident in. And once I slapped myself and said “just get this done and then you’ll be home free,” my fingers began typing faster than ever before.
It was hard staying in my room for hours just reading, typing, and studying. My brain began turning into a milkshake, and I couldn’t even see my words straight anymore, let alone think of an intelligent sentence to write. So at some points this week I did take breaks in order to just clear my mind and come back to work fresh, and able to think faster. On Tuesday afternoon, one of my friends that I met in Thailand came to pick me up and take me to a BBQ. It was the best afternoon I’ve had in a long time only because I felt so trapped in my head, and I felt so locked away from the sun. All I had been seeing was pages after pages about Thai history, and everything became a blur. It was nice to get out for five hours, eat some delicious grilled chicken and just talk with friends. They even had huge bacon strips that they were putting on the grill which were amazingly tasty because I hadn’t had bacon in months. I just sat back, relaxed, listened to music, and ate. Then at about nine-thirty I got dropped off back at my dorm, and I was able to speed through my paper and finish it before the last-minute.
Now I feel accomplished and at rest. I learned that sometimes in ordered to relieve tension and worry, and to do your work properly you need to step back to breathe and rest your mind. And I also learned that nothing feels better than the end of finals week when you know that the next day you’ll be sitting on a beach in southern Thailand. Right now I am so full of joy because I am getting away from my dorm in Chiang Mai, and I am going down south to Phuket to free myself. After a long week of being frantic and worried because I realized that I’m here to be a college student, I finally feel like I can breathe smoothly and appreciate the mesmerizing mountains and rice fields of Thailand again.