I am an introverted person, so I thought quarantine would not be as bad and I also came ready with snacks, exercise routines, a list of activities I wanted to complete, and a couple downloaded movies and Netflix shows to have a very productive yet relaxed quarantine. However, if I am being honest, despite how prepared I felt for quarantine, there were days where I questioned my decision of studying abroad during the ongoing pandemic. If I could describe it with a word, ‘rollercoaster’ would be it. Some days it felt great and peaceful to be by myself. I would get a lot done and would feel very productive while I would also find time to relax; however, there were also those days where I felt down, unmotivated, and even anxious. I am glad that I allowed myself to feel all those emotions and that quarantine was eventually over.
I cannot explain the feeling of finally getting out of a 14 day quarantine. Everything felt so surreal. Our trip to Bangkok’s airport and our flight to Chiang Mai were just the beginning of the amazing experience of studying abroad in Chiang Mai, and I could not believe it. I finally met the other USAC students in person while we waited for our ride to the airport. During our trip to Bangkok’s airport and to Chiang Mai, we had the opportunity to introduce ourselves, share our experiences during quarantine, and how we were feeling now that we were out of quarantine. We all had similar experiences during quarantine, some of us had mixed emotions now that we were out, and it was interesting how we could relate to everyone’s experiences. It felt recomforting that I was not the only one who had to go through quarantine. It made me feel a little better, at least there was someone who could relate to the mixed emotions I was having. I honestly believe that we bonded as a group because of our shared experience of going through and getting out of quarantine at the same time.
Personally, I was excited to be out of quarantine but part of me was also anxious as things were changing very rapidly due to the increase in Covid cases. Our program director informed us that although Chiang Mai had restrictions, there was still a lot that we could do and things were pretty much open. However, I knew things could change at any point. So, even though I wanted to be positive, I also felt anxious from not really knowing how our experience would unfold. Like I said earlier, some of us had mixed emotions and I was one of them.
Despite these mixed feelings, once I was out of quarantine, I appreciated everything, even the small things. Meeting the other USAC students, or simply walking down the street felt so nice. Once we finally arrived in Chiang Mai, I just wanted to be out exploring. On our first night there, we got to meet Thai buddies, Chiang Mai University (CMU) students that were so willing to help us explore Chiang Mai. We also met three USAC students who were there since session one. We had dinner with them. It was a great start to the program. On our first full day in Chiang Mai we did quite a bit. We spent our morning buying uniforms, doing a tour around CMU, eating lunch at CMU’s cafeteria, going to a fruit market and trying sticky rice with banana and black beans for the first time, and we even had a stop at the Angkaew Reservoir where we took pictures and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. We finished our night by going to the night market. It was a day full of activities and it felt great to finally be out and about. At times it felt overwhelming because we barely took breaks, but I was so happy that we were finally able to do all of these activities. This is just the beginning of these three weeks and I am so excited. I hope you enjoyed this written blog. Although I wanted to share everything in a video format, it was taking me longer to edit my vlogs. Enjoy the pictures!