First Internship & First Asia Experience All In One!

June 24, 2019
• by
Elizabeth Fedde

As a rising junior, I was definitely on the lookout for a summer internship opportunity this year, but if you’d told me at the beginning of my sophomore spring semester that I was going to spend my summer in Bangkok, Thailand I simply wouldn’t have believed you. Now, I have been in Thailand for about three weeks and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. Before May 31, 2019 I had never been to Asia, though I have always had a strong desire to go ever since my cousin worked in Hong Kong for a year and raved about the amazing experience. Considering that I am on a new continent, in a new country, a new city, AND a working new job there has been a lot of adjusting to do. 

I tried my best to prepare by reading guidebooks, forums, and travel blogs, but nothing could have prepared me for this independent and unique experience I am having as a summer intern in a foreign country. I have one co-worker my age, I don’t speak Thai, and I am a California girl who isn’t used to the humidity. The one thing I am extremely grateful I thought to bring is a LifeStraw water bottle with a built-in filter so that I can fill up my bottle anywhere and stay hydrated as I sweat through the Bangkok heat. Besides this ingenious preparation, when I boarded the plane to Thailand, I accepted the fact that I would be learning on the fly.

I am here with seven other interns and we are all participating in the Marshall International Summer Internship Program (MISIP). Luckily, three other interns are working near the city center like me, so I get to come home to friendly faces everyday. Additionally, the leader of MISIP in Thailand generously invited the interns into his home and provided us with in-country mentors which has eased the transition. It still has been a very independent experience, but it is very comforting to have these connections.

This is my first summer internship, so I also was at a loss at how to prepare for my job. Thankfully, my direct supervisor speaks perfect English and has become another mentor to me. I will detail my experiences on the job in another blog, but it has been one of my easiest adjustments due to the warm welcome, good communication, and encouragement I have received.

Another one of the easiest adjustments has been the food! I absolutely love Thai food so I don’t mind going to the food court everyday and spending 60 Baht (about 2 USD) for some of the best Thai food I’ve had. There must be at least one hundred malls in Bangkok since it is so hot and humid all the time and all of them have amazing restaurant choices and extravagant food courts. I’ve been told that many Thai university students spend most of their time in the malls in their free time. 

I’ve already begun to explore the Sukhumvit area where I live and was sure to see the Grand Palace as my first tourist attraction in Bangkok, but there is still so much to see, learn, do, and eat! Even as I settle into my daily routine for work, I still try to experience something new everyday (even if it’s just an interesting snack from 7-11)!