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Published: August 26th 2006
I know travel tales are at their best when they involve a few hair-raising escapades, daring deeds or, at the very least, a decent dose of discomfort... Unfortunately (for you, at least) there'll be absolutely none of that in this entry, as I set out to describe for you the idyllic life of an International Student at Rangsit University. (For some more exciting entries, check out some of my brother Joel
's latest adventures around Europe - running with the bulls in Pamplona, bungee jumping off dam walls James Bond-style, dancing like a dervish at Tunisian weddings...!) As for me, during the odd moments when I'm not caught up in the great times being had here, I feel a little guilty about what a lazy & enjoyable experience it has all been so far! In this entry, I'll just try to give you some idea what it's like to live & study here at Rangsit and then I'll move on to some more recent adventures. A number of weekend trips to the islands (including Koh Pha Ngan for the infamous Full Moon Party), the whirlwind tour of my Mum's 10-day visit, a recent jaunt through Laos, and the PADI Open Water Scuba
Me, Casto & Leti on one of the IC tours
Casto & Leti were definitely my two best mates this term, so you'll be seeing lots of them in my photos.
Diving course I just finished this afternoon!... So much to catch up on, when did I fall so far behind?!
So, where to start?... Rangsit University is located on a big, American-style campus about 40km north of Bangkok's city centre, (and only 10 minutes from Don Muang airport). The location is perfect - the air is clearer & the streets much quieter than downtown, but it's just a reasonably cheap cab ride in when we want to shop, party or travel. The International College, where I 'study' (in the loosest possible sense of the term) with dozens of other international students and hundreds of Thai students, is a large, modern building equipped with computer rooms, TV/common room, huge gymnasium and so on. Ah yes, there are also quite a few classrooms I think, but I haven't seen much of those as yet. =P
While we're on the subject of classes, I am taking four here - Thai language, Thai cooking & two Philosophy courses for my Arts degree major. All are very relaxed & laidback; the professors understand very well that we're not really here for the academic experience and it's never a problem to take a week
In the Grand Palace
The IC gave us a guided tour of Bangkok during our first week at Rangsit.
off here or there. Not that there are many lectures in the first place - I only need to come in to school two days a week! Of all the courses, the Thai language course has been the most useful, in helping us start to get our tongues around this fairly tricky language. Thai is tonal; there are five subtly different ways to say each sound. For example, initially I found it quite hard to distinguish between the Thai words for 'five' and for 'diarrhoea', (subtly different variations of haa
). In fact, judging by the look on the street vendor's face when I asked for five kebabs the other night, I still haven't quite got it down. =P
I live in a brand new apartment complex within a five minute walk of campus, on the same floor as 15 other international students. Farangsit
(our 'ingenious' name for the place - a mix of the Thai word for foreigner (farang
) and Rangsit) has very quickly become home and I am extremely comfortable there - maybe too much so. Having lived there for about three months, my room is now decked out with a TV, DVD-player, fridge, electric kettle and even
air-conditioning. As I said, I'm really doing it tough here... =) I'm so glad I came here after the three-month stint in India and not the other way around. The only problem with having such a comfortable room is that it's made me very complacent travel-wise... =P
The one thing the apartments are missing is a kitchen, so we eat out for pretty much every meal. Anyone familiar with Thai food will know what a pleasure this is. =) And an affordable one: a typical meal, (such as fried beef with oyster sauce, rice & a Coke), rarely costs more than AU$1.50. After so many meals on my own in India, it has been awesome to have company for pretty much every meal I've eaten here. My fellow 'Farangsitians' (or is that 'Farangsitites'?) are a great and very sociable group of people. Most are from the U.S. and have been a lot of fun to travel, party and live with, (as well as practise my American English - the car-fee is bitter-r-r, yo
- and try to school them a little in the more 'sophisticated' version we use in Australia =P). I've made some very close friends over the
last semester, whom I'm really missing already. I hope the next group will be equally interesting and decent people, but I think that might be too much to hope for...
A typical week here at Rangsit generally involves a couple of days spent in class, the rest of the weekdays playing some sport, watching movies or TV shows in my room or wandering around 'Future Park' (the huge shopping centre near here), and then living it up on the weekends - either partying in Bangkok or travelling around. Not always a huge fan of clubbing, I've really enjoyed going out here. Once you get away from the most touristy areas, (in which you can't seem to go five paces without bumping into either a deceptively-gorgeous ladyboy or a grossly overweight, balding white man with a beer in one hand and a beautiful young Thai girl in the other), the vibe is a lot more fun. A gentle, laidback & polite people, the Thai's also definitely know how to party and we've had some great nights out.
I know this blog has been kind of vague and random; I'm just trying to quickly sum up what sort of experience
Fruit-carving in Thai cooking class
These were the teacher's examples. Our attempts were slightly less impressive. (Emily's photo)
it is to live here in Rangsit. Maybe you could just describe it as a break from the real world... Anyway, now that you have some idea of the setup here, I'll get onto putting up some photos and then cranking out some (hopefully) more interesting blogs on some of the travelling I've done so far. Hope you're all well - come & visit me here anytime!
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