How do you say hakuna matata in Thai?

Well, I’ve never blogged before but what better time to start than two weeks before I leave for my semester abroad. My name is Julie and I am a junior at the University of Richmond studying Leadership and Political Science.  I am from New Jersey so the adjustment from suburbia to rice paddies will surely be interesting.

As I gear up to go to Thailand, “no worries” is the most prevalent thought in my mind.  As far as my language capabilities, they are limited to a restaurant take-out menu and I am pretty sure that English is not as prevalent there.  The dress code is very different from what I am used to (no gym shorts!) And did I mention it’s near the equator? Hello eight month summer. I have a feeling I will be returning with many mosquito bites. What is an adventure without a challenge though right? (and yes, I am freaking out—but just a little..)

The country itself has been politically unstable for the last six years.  It is amazing that I will be there just after an election (they just elected their first female prime minister!), especially as a political science major-as long as more riots don’t break out.  The local communities and rural areas have become more politically active over these past years and technology is finding its way out onto the rice paddies.  As a student of political science, this is truly awesome.  I am about to embark on an adventure where I get to witness grassroots government and its founding.  The program is focused on development and globalization, so I am given the opportunity to participate in NGO workings and grassroots community development.  Having worked in my Congressman’s office this past summer, I have seen government and democracy first hand, in fact I have contributed to it.  I am both excited and a little scared to see the juxtaposition Thailand is sure to pose.

So, how does one prepare to go to such a place?  Well I am meditating more—both to calm the nerves and to experience a taste of Thai culture before I leave (or maybe its just cause my mother keeps telling me to).  I am also attempting to eliminate all expectations that I have.  I recently learned that Denmark is the happiest country in the world, and it is because they do not have expectations.  I know I am a control freak, so this is not the easiest task I have taken on, but I am going to live abroad with a no expectation and YES attitude.  A good friend who just got back from abroad told me to accept every invitation, and I fully intend to take her up on that challenge.

So for now, I am packing, finishing out my internship, and learning as much about my future home as possible.  So hakuna matata in Thai—still no worries.  I plan to live every day, study hard, but explore more.   This is my greatest adventure so far, and I invite you to follow along on my journey as I truly live and let Thailand happen to me.  So all aboard, next stop Thailand.

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