Postcards from China Blog #11: Thailand Excursion – Asbury University
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Postcards from China Blog #11: Thailand Excursion

November 9, 2018

Rebecca Boiney ’20 experiences yet another culture shift — from China to Thailand — during Asbury’s China Study Abroad program.

When our group first stepped out of the Chang Mai airport and into Thailand, my first thought was, “We are definitely not in China anymore.” Although it was an obvious statement on the surface, it quickly became an observation that encouraged me to reflect on what made Thailand different from China: the jeans and sweater in which I had been shivering in Beijing were now plastered to my skin with a slick sweat adhesive; no longer were we the only foreigners, but there were many more foreigners around us than I had seen in the past two months; palm trees seemed to be the most prominent natural feature in the city; and no one seemed to be in too much of a hurry. 

The longer I have spent here, however, the more I have had to wrestle with how these changes have come to affect me. When it seemed like I was just getting used to operating in the Chinese context, I landed in an entirely new place, with an entirely different language, and an entirely different way of life. In addition to this, Thailand is a place that is almost entirely Buddhist; the religion permeates throughout so much of their culture and every day life. The combination of these things, left me dealing with culture shock rather than enjoy the new culture. I felt annoyed with the things around me, and I was becoming frustrated that my seemingly random bad attitudes were hindering my ability to soak in all of our unique experiences.

I came to realize that, in order to deal with these changes in scenery and attitude, I needed to begin every morning by calling out to God for help. But since I have put all of my trust and dependence in God, He has enabled me to not only cope with the changes from Thailand to China, but to thrive in them. Thailand has been wonderful in many aspects: its scenery holds indescribable beauty, the Thai people are easy-going and kind, we have been blessed by the added mentorship of many Christians here and having class by the pool is something I would never turn down on a hot day.

God has also blessed me though a lot of unique interactions with the Thai locals. When we stayed in a small village in Chiang Rai, the locals made us traditional food every day, and they even taught my friend and me how to do some of the cooking. They always greeted our group with enthusiastic smiles. When we went to an even more impoverished area, an older woman who was selling bracelets (while also taking care of her grandchild) gave me one of her bracelets for free. What a wonderful example of how selfless and relational the Thai people are: they were genuinely caring individuals who wanted to share their culture and make others happy.

From all of this, I learned that I have a God who has created a wonderful world filled with diversity, and that same God loves me immeasurably more than I can imagine. This fact did not change when I came to Thailand, and in that I am firmly reassured. I hope that I can continue to wake up every morning and immediately turn to God, because I know I will find fulfillment in His strength no matter where I go.