Don’t Take Anyone’s Packing Advice Too Seriously

I promise I’ll start being more exciting soon, but first, for all the potential applicants…please be moderate in your packing choices. By this I mean, don’t go to extremes of bringing either too much or too little of any essential like clothing, etc. based on advice you get from alumni, YES people, and so on. Literally everyone told me that they regretted bringing so many clothes. Instead of taking this with a grain of salt and remembering that everyone is different, I packed extremely minimal clothing. Like, almost backpacker level minimalism. The reality of the situation is that when you first arrive in Thailand, you aren’t going to charge off to the market with fluent Thai and buy everything you left in America. Your host family may speak perfect English. They may speak almost no English (like mine). You can’t rely on anyone else’s experience. Therefore, please bring enough clothing. Bring gifts, but don’t go overboard. Some things to consider…

  • Cute clothes. For some reason I was under the impression that you have to dress Saudi Arabia modest to live in Thailand. Not true. Bring shorts (keep in mind that booty shorts might not get much use, however). Bring cute tops for when you (inevitably) visit big cities that are more westernized. If you wear makeup, bring it. Bring workout clothes. Obviously this is all geared toward girls, but for guys too…when you go to a festival, on a school field trip, walking around the streets of Pattaya with your friends…you don’t want to look like trash. Especially when everyone is pointing and staring at you because you’re a foreigner. It’s like showing up somewhere in your pajamas and being spontaneously informed that you have to give a speech in front of 5,000 people, including your parents, social superiors, favorite teachers, and the president.
  • A blanket. Ok, now you all think I’m a baby. But the blankets in lower quality Thai hotels and on buses feel DISGUSTING. And in my experience, Thai families don’t have lots of extras.
  • Skin care products. This actually hasn’t been a problem for me because I don’t use anything on my face, but be warned that finding moisturizer/cleanser/anything without bleach or other whitening agents is pretty much impossible. I’m pretty sure the deodorant is whitening too, so keep that in mind.
  • Decorations. It would’ve been nice if I’d brought stuff to personalize my space. As it is, I’m stuck with blank walls.

Parting words of wisdom: Research, ask alumni for advice, and then find a route that is a good compromise between all the different suggestions you get.

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