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Payap University, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Gabriela Corbera, '13

Payap University, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Why did you choose to study abroad?

Ever since I was little I have dreamed of studying abroad. I was born in Venezuela but throughout my life, I’ve moved around quite a bit, so moving or a change of environment is not something scary to me, it’s rather quite exciting. When I lived in the Caribbean for a few years, I attended an International School where I fell inlove with cultures and diversity. Thus, when I came to America and found out about studying abroad, I couldn’t resist!

I chose to study abroad to gain insight about a different region of the world (Asia) as well as engage myself in an entirely different culture. I absolutely love traveling, and I love learning more about the world. This experience is really important because it takes you out of your comfort zone and opens your eyes to the rest of the world. Life in America is great, and I am very proud to be America, but if I have the opportunity go travel and learn in another country, and get college credit for it…I’m going abroad!

What was the most difficult part of being in another country?

The most difficult part of the experience was definitely communicating! In Thailand, they speak an entirely different language that originated from Palinese scripture. Thus, the sounds, the letters, the symbols look completely different to our Western alphabet. As much Thai as I practiced, or as much Thai as our Ajahn (Professor) would teach us, it was still quite a challenge! Thankfully, a lot of Thais speak English, so that helped quite a bit, but I would have liked to learned more Thai. I am a pretty outgoing person, and not being able to communicate as much as you want can be tough, but it can also be quite fun. You have hand signals, drawings, and a pocket-dictionary of course. I have plans on going back to Thailand, for sure, and when I do I definitely hope I can brush up on the language! It’s such a beautiful country, and even though I was only able to converse a little with the Thais, I still learned a whole lot about their culture, their mannerism, and attitudes of life. They are very relaxed and down to earth, sabai sabai as they say. Relax, relax. 

What memorable experiences did you have while studying abroad?

Too many to count! From teaching Zumba to the villagers, to the beautiful crystal clear waters of Krabi, to learning how to meditate by a monk! That is what’s great about Thailand, there are so many different images and things to see in Thailand. Mountains, temples, beaches. But if I had to narrow it down to one, I would probably say the Meditation Retreat I tried to do at Wat Rampeong in Chiang Mai. I may have only lasted 4 days but those 4 days I spent there were absolutely amazing. I learned things there that I don’t think I would have been able to learn anywhere else. 

What were some important things you learned while abroad?

I think the most important thing I learned in Thailand is to take life slow. In America I feel like we are such stressed individuals. Our lives are so hectic, so busy, so fast, we tend to forget to enjoy the ride. In Thailand, life is a lot slower, calmer, and relaxed. They are very laid back, don’t complain about the little things, rather they embrace them. They make plenty of time for work, but also know the importance of “down time,” relaxing. Whether it’s visiting a temple, meditating, getting a Thai massage, or napping Thais know how to relax. Hence, why there tend to always be calm, collect, and relaxed. So in other words:

Take life slow,

take it easy,

and relax, relax.

To see more about her trip and to read some of her writing, check out her blog.


  • Study Abroad

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