1. April 2015 | Von Clara Leal Wegenast 

There is life after Bangkok

I have been home for 3 months now and the time to write the last post about the semester abroad in Bangkok has come.

There is life after Bangkok

All the practical information has already been given and all I have left is my memories and what I have taken from that experience. Of course it is all very personal, but I think people who are about to go for a semester abroad might want to know what, after all, they might take for their personal life. For this reason, I will now share my deepest reflections.

Since I live in the International House of the Chulalongkorn University, I had the chance to meet people from different parts of the world. I have improved my skills to communicate with different people, I have improved my knowledge of other languages and learned, sometimes the hard way, that culture really impacts in one’s views of the world and personality.

The most important thing that I’ve learned in Bangkok, though, was how to be free. I’ve learned that freedom, as happiness, is inside of us. Three people helped me with this realization. A German friend from a different university has taught me independence. Countless times I have been angry at him for leaving the group and doing what only he really wanted to do. Countless times I have felt rejected by his behavior. Eventually I have accepted that this is who he is and that independence is a type of freedom. I have decided to do the same.

I was in Chiang Mai watching the magical lantern festival Yi Peng with a group of people who actually just wanted to party and did not seem to care as much as me about the lanterns. Then I left the group and wandered alone through the streets illuminated by thousands of floating stars and I have never felt happier to be alone, doing what I really wanted, being free.

The second person that helped me in my journey to freedom was an Austrian friend. We have decided to travel to Laos in one day and on the next day we were on our way, without any planning. This was already something so spontaneous that I normally would not do it. When we were there, he convince me to ride a motorcycle with him; he held my hand to give me motivation to jump off a tree into the river six meters below; he talked me into going to explore an empty cave only using a phone’s light; and others. It seems scary and reckless but it was liberating. Since Brazil is a very dangerous country, I have an over-protective mother and I would never give myself permission to do things considered reckless, even when there is no actual danger at the moment. This is also part of freedom, freedom to choose to take the risk and lose fears. Fear holds you a prisoner.

The third person was an Italian friend. He has taught me freedom through humor. He has reminded me that everything in life can be a big joke if you look through the right angle. He has taught me not to be afraid of what others might think of you.

After Bangkok I am living a much more emotionally independent life, I am prepared to take the risk to be happy and I am laughing… even about how much I miss Bangkok!

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