HAT YAI, Thailand—Upon arriving at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport, I was greeted by the airport staff with a warm smile. It’s true, then, that Thailand is the Land of Smiles.
I went to Thailand to study for two years under a master’s scholarship grant. I must admit I experienced language barrier, especially in buying food. Once, I went to a carinderia to buy dinner. I asked the vendor if he sells chicken. His eyebrow wrinkled. I knew he didn’t understand what I said, but I still repeated my question, and he repeated his reaction.
I gestured with my hands to mimick flying wings. That’s when he finally understood what I was asking and pointed to a viand looked like it’s made from chicken. When I ordered and ate it, it, indeed, tasted like chicken and was delicious. I smiled.
I’m not a fan of spicy food. Almost every, if not all, Thai dish is spicy: from noodles to chicken to rice. Everything is spicy. Another thing, I’m not a fan of vegetables. I don’t eat ampalaya and okra, to name a few.
I tried tom yum, a spicy and sour broth cooked with shrimp and vegetables and crispy pork with kale, a type of vegetable I’ve never tasted before. These turned out to be palatable! They instantly became my favorite Thai cuisines. I smiled.
Studying far away from my home makes me feel homesick. With the help of my classmates and other international students, I’m now slowly adjusting, and I’m sure I can survive homesickness. I also have to commend the Thai professors, university staff and students for being so welcoming to international students like me. It was easier for me to adjust in this new environment because they are very hospitable and accommodating. They just always put a smile on my face.
I’m planning to go back to the Philippines during our semestral break to spend the Christmas season with my family. I think that when I finally get home, I will immediately miss the language, the food, my international student friends, the people of Thailand and, of course, their smiles.
Thailand being the Land of Smiles not only reflects its people always smiling. I think it also reflects how Thais’s smiles affect other people and make them smile back.
And it creates a ripple of smiles.
John Patrick Solano, 26, is a BS Applied Mathematics graduate at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and currently a freshman of MS Mathematics at the Prince of Songkla University in Hat Yai, Thailand. This is Solano’s first contribution to the BusinessMirror.