For our global reporters
Italian student Stefania Pittia continues her story of her Thai experience with interesting observations on the local culture and a term at a Bangkok university.
"I soon became fascinated by the temples in the old city; I really liked Wat Arun which I found profoundly meaningful." (Stefania pictured with her parents at Wat Arun)
The is the second and final part of Stefania Pittia's story of her experience in Thailand as a visiting university student from Italy. In her own words, "I would like to thank Thailand, Thai people and every single person I met, because they all made my experience unforgettable!" (For part one, click here: http://bit.ly/gODrpH)
Stefania comes to Thailand, part 2
LEARNING FROM THAILAND:
One day I decided to buy a book that explained Buddhism. I wanted to understand more deeply the behavior of Thai people and how they normally practice their religion. I soon became fascinated by the temples in the old city; I really liked Wat Arun which I found profoundly meaningful. For example, the stairs are steep because you will reach Nirvana only after a difficult and hard path.
I quickly learnt that another important value for the Thai people is their King. He is worshipped almost like a God. At first I felt strange when at 6pm I had to stop walking because a song for the King was played; and when I was at the cinema and I had to stand up before the movie started to pay homage to the King. But I respect all these values, because I am in a foreign country and I need to adapt to them.
The Bangkok University canteen which became a regular part of Stefania's routine.
Stefania in her uniform outside Bangkok University.
At Bangkok University I really had a wonderful time. Thai students were a bit shy, so at the beginning I had some difficulties integrating myself into the class. But then I found that they are open and nice.
After the first meeting with the University Dean, I discovered that I had to wear a UNIFORM! In Italy that is unusual, students are free to go to the class wearing whatever they want. I packed a lot of dresses in my baggage and I have to say that they stayed there until I came back home.
So I bought the skirt, the shirt, the belt and the buttons. It was funny but I soon realized that it was convenient, because every morning I didn’t need to choose how to dress. On the other hand, I saw a conflict between free choice and wearing a uniform. The first means creativity, a explosion of ideas and uniqueness and the second means standardization that minimizes someone’s real personality.
The residence where I stayed was near the University, only about 500 meters away, but I normally took the bus to go to the classes. Thai people use air conditioning everywhere without limits and I did not want to work up a sweat and then freeze in the classroom, risking a terrible cold. I even started bringing a cardigan in my bag.
But there is another thing stranger than the freezing temperatures: the public buses. Bangkok is full of skyscrapers, has the MRT, the BTS and a lot of modern things, but it has the oldest and most rusted buses I have ever seen. It is funny, because they have wooden floorboards, open windows and engines like you would find on a farm tractor.
Bangkok is a mixture of high technology and makeshift objects and it is really interesting to see how they co-exist, making the city unique and special.
Me and Ms. Ting Ting (Chinese teacher)
I attended three courses. One of them was named INTERCULTURAL STUDIES and it was taught by a Thai teacher. She taught me a lot of interesting things about Thailand. She was quite effective in making the class interactive by organizing assignments in teams consisting of both Thai and foreign members.
Our task was to give opinions about the topics we were learning.
I also attended a CHINESE LANGUAGE course. The teacher was great. She helped me with pronunciation and the Chinese characters and she taught me cultural aspects of the Chinese people. I have to thank her because through her I discovered a new world called China.
The only course where I had an international teacher was STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT. The instructor was Finnish and he tried to inspire us to come up with creative ideas
From the three courses I could see significant differences in the students’ behavior and the teaching methods employed in each course. With the Thai teacher, the atmosphere was more relaxed. Students could converse with each other and even play with Blackberry mobile phones. With the Finnish instructor, the class was quieter but after one hour students started to leave. Finally, with the Chinese instructor, students had to pay full attention because the class was interactive and she evaluated our participation for the final grade. Three cultures, three ways of doing things!
My “learning experience” taught me that we can learn from everything – from the food to the teaching methods. Adapting to a different culture means adapting to its mental schemes which little by little become part of our own way of thinking, a mind-opening process.
fascinated – very interested or attracted by someone or something น่าดึงดูดใจ
profoundly – greatly; deeply; seriously
steep – rising quickly and difficult to climb ที่สูงชัน และปีนขึ้นยาก
Nirvana – the state of peace and happiness that a person achieves after giving up all personal desires สวรรค์, สถานที่สงบสุข
worship – to feel or show respect and love for a god สักการะ
pay homage to – to show deep respect for someone แสดงความเคารพ
respect – to feel admiration for someone because of their personal qualities, their achievements, or their status เคารพ, นับถือ
value – a belief about what is right and wrong and what is important in life ค่านิยม
adapt – to change to suit different conditions or uses ทำให้เข้ากับ, ปรับตัว
integrate – to combine things of different types in one effective system รวมเข้าด้วยกัน
dean – a senior official at a college or university, often the head of a faculty or department คณบดี (ทางการศึกษา)
baggage – luggage; all the cases and bags that you take with you when you travel กระเป๋าเดินทาง
convenient – easy to do, or not causing problems or difficulties สะดวก
conflict – a difficulty for two things to exist together or for two things to be true at the same time ขัดแย้ง
creativity – the ability to create new ideas or things using your imagination ความสามารถในการสร้างสรรค์, ความคิดสร้างสรรค์
uniqueness – not the same as anything or anyone else ความเป็นหนึ่งเดียว
standardisation – making objects or activities of the same type have the same features or qualities; making everyone or everything seem the same
minimise – to reduce something harmful or unpleasant to the smallest amount or degree ลดจำนวนลง
personality – the part of a person that makes them behave in a particular way in social situations, e.g., in friendly or unfriendly way, or in a confident or shy way บุคลิกลักษณะ ลักษณะเฉพาะตน
residence – a place where someone lives ที่พำนัก ที่อาศัย
sweat – the tiny drops of salty water that form on your skin when you are hot เหงื่อ
risk – to cause someone or something to be in a difficult, unpleasant or dangerous situation เสี่ยงอันตราย
cardigan – a knitted jacket made of wool, usually with no collar and fastened with buttons at the front เสื้อไหมพรมไม่มีปกและผ่าติดกระดุมหน้า
skyscraper – a very tall building containing offices or flats ตึกสูงมาก
rusted – covered in the rough red substance that damages the surface of iron and steel เป็นสนิม
makeshift – using whatever is available and therefore not very good สำหรับใช้ชั่วคราว, ใช้ประทังไปก่อน
co-exist – to exist together in the same place or at the same time, especially in a peaceful way การดำรงอยู่ร่วมกัน
intercultural – existing or happening between different cultures ซึ่งเกิดระหว่างคนหรือวัฒนธรรมที่แตกต่างกัน
effective – producing the result that was intended ได้ผลดี
consist – to be made of or formed from something ประกอบด้วย
aspect – one part of a situation, problem, subject, etc ด้าน,มุม
inspire – to give people a particular feeling or a desire to do somethng จุดประกาย
employ – to use ใช้
atmosphere – the mood or feeling that exists in a place บรรยากาศ
evaluate - to think carefully about something before making a judgment about its value, importance, or quality ประเมินผล
participation – to take part in or become involved in an activity การมีส่วน
mental – connected with or happening in the mind; involving the process of thinking เกี่ยวกับจิตใจ
scheme – a system for organising or arranging information ระบบ, ระเบียบ
Stefania Pittia was born in 1985 in Monfalcone (Gorizia), Italy. She graduated in Business Economics at Udine University with a Bachelor’s Degree and continued her studies attending courses for a Master’s Degree at Udine. In February 2011 she will graduate, presenting a thesis on the impacts of the subprime crisis on Thai real economy. During the last academic year, she had the opportunity to study for the summer period at Bangkok University International, where she also attended a Chinese language course.
She is planning to study for another Master’s degree in International Business and, in the meantime, find a job that allows her to work with companies that have relationships with Asia.
Now she is working for 3 months at the Thai Italian Chamber of Commerce in Bangkok as an intern, thanks to the opportunity given by her University in Udine.
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