I’ve officially completed my first week in the classroom as a Chiang Mai University student. I haven’t been in the classroom for over three years now since completing my M.Ed, so it has been fun to be a student again. I am taking two classes while I’m here including Thai Society and Culture, and Thai Cooking. This week, we only had the Thai Society and Culture class. The cooking class begins next Monday!
Monday morning, I was excited and a little nervous to go back to school, but I put on my uniform and headed into my first class. :)
There are only three students in my class! I have never had a class that small, so it feels more like a small group discussion. We have already learned so much about Thai culture from our Ajarn (Professor) Keatisak. We have learned a bit about Thai history, the royal family, Buddhist culture/traditions, and the Lanna culture in Northern Thailand. We had a field trip today to the Chiang Mai Arts and Cultural Center, which was an informative way to learn more about the Lanna history and culture.
I have class from 9am – 12pm each day, but we had a holiday on Tuesday to celebrate Visaka Bucha Day. This holiday is a national Buddhist holiday in Thailand and is the day they celebrate Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death. It was wonderful to visit the temples in the evening and see so many Thai people participating in their holiday rituals. The Buddhist culture is very welcoming and even non-Buddhists can participate in rituals, visit the temples, and take photos throughout. As long as we respect the temple dress code, do not touch the monks (specifically for women), and respect the Buddha (never point our feet at the Buddha), we are welcome to join in.
Outside of class, I have been exploring the city with friends in the evening. I finally enjoyed my first mango sticky rice this week and had my first Thai massage last night! It was a 1 hour full body massage for equivalent of $6 USD. It was incredible!! I will certainly be taking advantage of this while I’m here. :)
Tomorrow, I am off on a USAC trekking tour into the mountains where we will be bamboo rafting, staying with the hill tribe people, harvesting crops with them, and spending time with elephants! I am so excited! :)