There are a million different reasons to study abroad all containing great opportunities for growth and understanding while experiencing a different part of the world.
One opportunity that I had heard about was being able to learn and participate within an internship through USAC. The chance to work and volunteer my time to an organization looking for assistance instantly sparked my interest because to live within another country for a year is amazing but would make the experience even more special if I could give back to the community that’s accepting me as a study abroad student.
Being a study abroad student is and should be treated as something completely different than any tourist passing through, specifically with taking the opportunity to create a home within Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Ajarn Keat, who is leading the internship programs at Chiang Mai, Thailand, did an amazing job fitting my application and interests with an organization he found called the AUA Language Center.
I was very nervous as to what to expect, especially since this would be the first time a student from CMU would intern at this organization. I met with Amy Hausermann, my soon to be supervisor, and my nervousness instantly started to fade. Amy is such a nice person and made my whole experience working at AUA very easy with a stress free environment. I started to look forward to coming in on Saturday mornings to complete the tasks she had for me. Everyday she would tell me how much she appreciates my help organizing their resources and assisting within the afternoon classroom from 1:00-3:00 p.m.
Melinda was the teacher I worked with during the afternoon English class for children around the ages of 11-13 years old. She was an amazing teacher and allowed me, someone with little experience teaching English curriculum, to observe and learn from her as well as help in any way she needed. Melinda always came into work with a positive, happy attitude which contagiously spread to all the students and myself. She was always prepared with games and activities, sparking the children’s interest to learn and furthermore making learning enjoyable.
My internship lasted through the months of January and ending in March with roughly every Saturday being dedicated to showing up and working for seven hours. To my surprise the Saturdays went by so fast and became apart of my time abroad that I genuinely really enjoyed. All of the teachers were so nice, professional, and from all different countries making the experience even more delightful. They would share with me their experiences within Thailand in addition to what life was like in their home countries. Amy herself was a fantastic supervisor and made the time spent at AUA an easy and satisfying time, which is one of the big reasons why my time there felt like it flew by. The children also made the experience something I will never forget with all of their laughter, jokes, and friendly personalities really giving me an even greater appreciation for Thai culture. They treated me with great respect and sometimes even Waii me, which is a sign of respect within Thai culture.
This was one of my favorite and most memorable experiences within Thailand and I strongly suggest to anyone considering an internship abroad to take advantage of this opportunity USAC provides and to do it with a positive, accepting attitude to Thai culture. I learned so much from my internship experience about Thai culture then I expected and I truly believe it has had a very positive influence to my view on life along with making my stay within Chiang Mai, Thailand feel like a second home.
Alyssa Zuniga is a California State University, Chico student. She studied abroad for a year in Chiang Mai, Thailand.