My name is Paige Skinner, and I am majoring in Materials Science and Engineering, planning to graduate in the spring of 2019. I spent one semester abroad in the wonderful city of Chiang Mai, in Thailand, during the first semester of my sophomore year.
I decided to study abroad because I wanted to push myself completely out of my comfort zone and immerse myself into a new culture. Upon leaving for Thailand, I was nervous at first because it was my first time living on my own, and I was doing it in a foreign country across the world. But as a spent more time in Chiang Mai, and got to know everyone in my program along with meeting friends in my internship, the more Thailand felt like home. One of my favorite parts was living in a city that was surrounded by the jungle.
At Chiang Mai University, where I went to school, you could find huge vines, and beautiful trees growing in every direction. After a short ten-minute walk from my apartment, you could find yourself hiking in the jungle to a beautiful temple, featuring a waterfall. The beauty of this country never failed to amaze me; every corner I turned I found beautiful greenery and hospitable Thai people always greeting me with a smile. The oddities of Thailand that I first clumsily ran into began to be a comfortable norm, including making friends with monks, and eating meat on a stick with sticky rice for breakfast from a street vendor. I was able to go on lots of crazy adventures, saw beautiful ancient temples, went on four hour hikes in the jungle through leeches and all, to make it to amazing look outs, and visited the countries of Cambodia, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Studying abroad has allowed me to see a different part of the world that I may not have seen otherwise, and to immerse myself into a culture that was very different from my own, but with lots of bumps on the way, I ended up loving the culture just as much as my own and it really felt like home. I grew as a person in many different ways, and now feel that I am capable of taking on any challenge that comes my way.