Blasted AC

Living in Alaska, I never really had to deal with the frustrations of air conditioning. In Thailand, there are days that seem a matter of life and death without it. The problem though, is finding that fine line between shivering and sweating.

The sun is up, high in the sky and my back is damp with sweat. I go inside, turn on the AC and I’m happy. Sadly, this is a short-term happiness. Depending on just how hot the day is, five to fifteen minutes later, I’m looking for socks and considering simply turning off the AC. But if I do that, then a few minutes later, I’ll be dripping sweat. This leads me to turning the AC on again and the cycle begins.

It’s worse when in the car. I get in, and breathing seems hard because of how hot it is. The AC is turned on and I am happy. Then I am cold. If we’re driving in one direction and the sun is on me, that one spot is hot. The rest, is cold. Particularly my feet. It doesn’t stop there. If you’d like to know, I love rain. I love it so much, that I’ll run outside and get entirely soaked. The down side of this adventure is getting into the car. The cool air runs up my back and down my throat.

I appreciate the lack of heat I experience when using AC but until I can use it without freezing, I’d rather stick to using a fan.

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The Somewhat Adventures of Milo and Nicha

My first host family had a dog. A big, smelly, not so bright dog. I love all dogs. All dogs that are not giving me the evil eye and ready to kill me, that is. But Milo is definitely the one that is not out to kill me. He loves me. This can be explained by the generous amount of attention I give him whilst everyone else says he smells. He does smell. He is dirty. He is also adorable.

At the beginning I didn’t give him a lot of attention. No matter how recently he had been bathed, he always seemed to be covered in mud and when I petted him he’d get so worked up I’d have to go inside and wash my hands.

This all changed when I realized, I wanted to go on a walk. I looked at the dog. He doesn’t smell that bad. I decided, that he would join me for the walk.

I opened the gate, called Milo, and we stepped outside. Milo was ecstatic. He kept jumping around me until I finally determined for us to take a left. He immediately began bounding in that direction going past the turn I wanted to take. Thus began my friendship with a smelly dog.

In the yard, I’d occasionally throw him a stick until he had chewed it to something that, if taken from his mouth, would disintegrate. But everyday after school, I’d get out of the car and he’d immediately be up and jumping at me.

One day, I decided that it was the perfect time for a walk. So Milo and I made our way around the block. I looked at my watch and decided that it was time for us to be heading back. When I looked for Milo, he wasn’t there. He was ten feet ahead, going down a completely different street. I ran after him and discovered where he got his mud baths.

Right by the road was a small fence. Beyond that fence and about fifteen feet down was a large muddy pond. In that large muddy pond, was a big, smelly, wet dog.

I’d love to say some heartwarming thing about how Milo always listened to me try to speak Thai. But, he’s a dog. A big, smelly, wet dog.

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Rotary Youth Exchange students have a thing for pins. Actually they have a thing for anything that can be pinned onto a blazer. One girl even has a bottle opener on her blazer. My blazer probably weighs about 10 pounds more than it did originally. It would weigh more, but I’m not sure how to get a candle on or just how well airport security would appreciate a pack of hotel matches.

We exchange students take pride in what’s on our blazer, so I thought I’d name a few and their story.

One lapel is entirely devoted to Thai pins given to me from my Thai host brother before he left. It took me quite a while to get them in an order that made them all fit.

Rimming the bottom front, I have a watch. Or at least three-quarters of a watch. The other quarter is pinned to the sleeve.

Next to the watch is an unwanted tassel from a shirt of mine.

To the left, one will see some school made things from the grade below for a science fair.

Last on the bottom, is a phone key chain thing. I honestly don’t know what to call it. My host sister gave it to me to stick onto my phone. The problem is, my phone is already huge. A bit longer than a deck of cards, it is impossible to put it anywhere but in a purse so the added dangely thing with puff balls on the end did not help. Thus it was retired to the blazer.

I have a small square of a cardboard box with a before and after picture of hair. Before is lighter and After is Darker. How it really worked out was, before, I had light brown hair. After, for about a day, my hair was darker. Then it looked orange.

I have a plastic stick that once held a chocolate lollipop. Simply because I love chocolate.

Before I left, a friend gave me what she called a travelers bracelet. It had blue beads and the kind that, if put in sunlight, would reflect rainbows. I loved it. I loved it a little too much though, because it began to fall apart.This lead to it being pinned to my blazer.

I have a Ferrero rocher wrapper with a small card reading, “To Nicha, from Santa.” It was from a Christmas party some friends and I had.

Above that is a small plush letter N. I bought it at a market because my Thai name, Nicha, starts with an N.

On the back, I have a small banner that says District 3360, my district in Thailand.

I’ve got maybe 5 different things with my name pinned on. Most of them are from school activities.

I have a pink ribbon from a Thai dance I did. I wasn’t originally going to put it on my blazer, but when I was taking off the costume I just dropped the ribbon onto my blazer and that is where it has stayed since.

Before going into the stadium for a New Year’s celebration, my sister had to get her camera checked through.They gave her a string with a card on the bottom saying she could take photos.

I have so many more pins and stories, but I have one thing in particular that I’m guessing no exchange student has ever had before.

In beauty pageants, the winner always gets a sash. Well, I happened to be at my district’s governor installation, and came away with my own U.S.A sash. It covers up a lot of my pins but I love how unique it is.

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The Time of My Life



the time

of my life.

And I never felt this way before.

I swear

this is true

and I owe it all to


These words are from a song. It’s not my favorite song and I haven’t heard it since April. But unless I’m surrounded by some of my favorite people on earth, and I hear this song, I’ll probably crumble into a limp form and start crying. Why? This is ‘our song’. For all of the exchange students in our district of Thailand. We have a lot more too. Like the Macarena and Waka Waka. One girl even made a CD of “Our Songs”. There are about twenty songs overall. They’re the ones that we listened to in August at our orientation all the way to our Southern Trip  this April.

I remember an exchange student last year telling me about how horrible saying goodbye was at the end of her trip. These are the people who know exactly what you’re talking about and are probably the only ones who understand your Thaiglish. We used to wonder, if we were all in one school with lots of other people, would we still hang out? Probably not.

I read on a card once, Friends are the family you get to choose. Well, exchange students are the family you’re forced to have. Not that any of us mind.

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I stepped out onto the little balcony from my room a few minutes ago to look around. I always do that and I always will. It’s depressing really, so many windows and yet no one dares to look out of them. True, right across from my balcony is another balcony. We’re close enough to have a pleasant conversation. It’s also close enough to feel that everyone has shut their windows and become anti-social and unwilling to enjoy the sunlight reflected off of the white walls.

If you have not guessed yet, I am one of the few people in this world unafraid of keeping my windows open. Maybe I am being a little unfair. In Alaska, my room is located in a corner of the house. Its view is trees and greenery. Almost the stereotypical Sitka hiking view. But if I look to my right I can see the deck and the road. So people could look into my room. But unless you were among the trees, all that you’d see is my beautiful ceiling.

But even here, in this crowded area, I feel perfectly fine opening the curtains and enjoying the reflected sunlight. Yes, I am the only one doing this and yes, the only thing I can see if I step out onto my balcony is the building straight across from me and clean street corners. But the thought of the only view being from a painting is a little dull.

Open your window. Push the curtains aside and take a look around. If the curtains are always closed, what is the point of the window?

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I think it’s safe to say that I’ve lived in a lot of places. It wasn’t always like that though. For my first seven months here, I lived with one family. I loved it there, I had my own big room, a desk and outside was always the family dog. My host mom worked at a bank and owned a coffee shop while my host dad was a police colonel. While all of my other exchange friends were packing up and switching families, I would be at home enjoying the lack of packing I had to do. 

I was happy, but I wanted to know what other families were like. And suddenly, I got to find out. On the first of March, I left to live for about a week with a family in Lamphun, a small town outside of Chiang Mai. It was strange being outside of the city. No dogs would wake me up at two in the morning. Instead, the heat and the sound of someone raking leaves would. The family lived outside of the immediate city so it was generally pretty quiet. After visiting this family, I am convinced that Lamphun is the hottest place in Thailand. I’m sure that it’s not, but the week I lived there, I was swimming in the hot humidity.

I lived with my first family a little while longer and in April, I left to live with Khun Matta. Like many Thais, she has more than one home. I love both of these homes and am happy at both. One is an hour outside of Chiang Mai in a little village that makes me think of a five star cabin, while the other one is a condo right by Chiang Mai University. One is surrounded by nature and is constantly making me do double takes as I notice a frog that could sit on my thumbnail and butterflies one might only see in fairytale picture books. The condo, on the other hand, is only a short walk away from a constant buzz of energy and people. If I could combine these two homes, it would be my dream house. 

I’m still living with Khun Matta, but not at the condo or the village home. Matta is a jeweler. This means she meets a lot of people. Her shop is located in an area where farang love to go shopping, so she meets and befriends a lot of farang.  An Australian friend of hers returned from a recent trip and found herself without an apartment and nowhere to live. My aunt thought about it and said, “You can stay at the condo!”

Khun Matta loves being in the village but I’m taking a massage class and she still has work so being at the village is kind of hard. So a week later, we packed up and made a small move. It might be a little unusual but I’ve enjoyed the one day I’ve been here. I think it will be fun to always meet someone new at breakfast. And what better place to do that than The Nest, a boutique hotel. 

Weird right? If not for the fact that it’s a hotel, it still is just me living with Khun Matta. It makes a bit more sense for her, actually. When she’s in the village, they can rent the rooms out to other people and she doesn’t have to worry about it.
After a few flights of stairs, there is a door which opens to a kitchen space and two other rooms. So it’s a little like being at the condo. Except at the condo, breakfast is just for my aunt and I. 

It’s funny to think about. In October, I was finally told that I’d be staying with my first host family for the whole year and suddenly in March I go all over the place. It can get a little tiring living out of a duffel bag, but it’s fun to think of just how unique this year is.

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It’s awesome.
I love it.
There’s something about the sky and how it just doesn’t care anymore about keeping water all to itself that makes me smile.
When I see small streets become shallow rivers, it makes me wonder.
What if we were all mermaids?

The rain distracts me
What I want to do is dance
To the rain drops beat

Obviously I have been thinking about the rain a lot. This is because rainy season is upon Thailand.  The sky can shine clear and blue one moment and the next I regret not having brought an umbrella to shelter me and my notebook from the downpour.

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