What I’ve enjoyed most is getting to know the Thrival student body. At first, they were just vaguely familiar faces, but now they have personalities and backstories. We’re all getting accustomed to living in a foreign country together, so I think that has helped us grow as students and as people. The experiences that we’ve had in Thailand are ones we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to explore in America, so I’m really happy I had the opportunity to come here with this group of people.

One thing that I will never forget is the homestay families- what they taught me and how they made me feel. I’ve always had trouble making bonds with people because I have a difficulty trusting, but it was easy with them. Just after a couple days they because family. These people without knowing us invited us into their homes and treated us as would their own children. They put up with my diet and went out of their way to accommodate my needs. One lady gave me five steamed potatoes to make sure I had enough to eat. In Thai culture, lots of food is cooked with fish oil and sometimes milk, and they ensured they prepared the meals separately and went to the market to get noodles that weren’t soaked in meat just for me. They even gave us little snacks, and the ones I had, she was like “vegan!”

Even though we’re going back to America, part of us will stay in Thailand. All the restaurants where we go know us by name because we eat there so often. I’m really going to miss that sense of community. In Thailand in general the sense of community is really strong. We’ve left our mark-, from murals at homeless shelters to the baht we’ve spent at markets. As we return home, we’ll bring that sense of community back with us.