Joshua Anderson - CFANS Study Abroad Program
My experience in Thailand this past winter break was an eye-opening and amazing experience. A year ago I would’ve never thought I would actually get the chance to visit a country so far away and so different than the United States. Now that I’m back I have a newfound appreciation for different lands and foreign cultures.
Even though as a wildlife major my main interest was in Thailand’s biodiversity, what I found even more interesting and enchanting was the Thai culture. As soon as I left American soil, I immediately threw out all my past biases and viewpoints, for my goal was to be as culturally flexible as possible. This practice was illuminating and really helped me to connect with the different people and societal norms, and make new insights. I found that values such as sharing, fellowship, and simplicity were emphasized, a refreshing break from the craziness of America!
But don’t get me wrong, even though I returned thoroughly impressed with the culture, the sheer biodiversity and varied environments of Thailand was also impressive beyond words. Journeying to natural places so different from home was akin to my younger self discovering nature all over again. Every plant, bird, mammal, and insect was a delight to find and a valued treasure.
The invaluable knowledge gleaned from the various researchers, technicians, and locals boosted my overall knowledge of the area and helped polish my skills as a wildlife biologist. I participated in every experience and event, no matter how insignificant, to the best of my abilities, and in return gained countless memories and satisfactions.
The summation of my entire Thailand adventure has resulted in a more culturally conscious and career motivated person than I ever could have imagined, and I remain sincerely grateful to the various people and groups that made this experience possible.