To my Daddy!
Important Lesson Number One: A cocktail party in Thailand does not mean there will be cocktails, wine or beer. It means the water, fanta and cola will be supplied.
Uni! Yes, going there is part of the whole exchange thing. And here in Thailand, university is more like an extension of high school. WOOHOO! QUT requests that we do FIVE subjects here at Chula (which is ever so kind of them), and each class is three hours LONG, and each of these FIVE lecturers assign you COMPULSORY HOMEWORK each week, and Chula requires you to turn up to 80% of the lectures, and lecture slides AREN’T put up on Blackboard – you NEED to go to class to get them as the lecturer prints them out for you (which is convenient, and you need to turn up to uni in your UNIFORM otherwise you can’t attend class, and the classes have between 20-50 people in them (which, I must admit, is pretty cool), and life is one big holiday here in Bangkok until you remember you have homework due. That is where the fun ends. But then, like every day, there is a party that night which makes it all worth-while. Until the next morning when you have a headache. And then you read your emails and see that the apartment complex sent the university CCTV footage of the exchange students making a party in the lobby. Naughty. Naughty.
I am studying Business Strategy, Marketing Strategy, International Marketing, Counselling Psychology and Industrial and Organisational Psychology. The business subjects are top noch, taught by talented lecturers and industry professionals (i.e. consultants, or Pepsi employees). The Psychology subjects on the other hand… for my first counselling class, the teacher thought it would be nice for everyone to introduce themselves to me (a process that took 30 mins). Luckily they were a little entertaining, for example, the teacher asked students to talk about their likes / dislikes: “I like famous footballers. I even flew to China to meet them, but they didn’t see me,” and “My name in Thai means Number One, but you can call me Sherry. I finished high school last month and I love Asians,” to which someone asked, “Boy or girl Asians?” I walked with Sherry to buy some water in the break. He told me he loves Caucasians too.
I went to my first I&O Psych class this Friday. Oh my lordy, I’ve never had a more terrible lecture in my life. I mean, I’ve heard of lecturers who read their notes and aren’t very interactive, but this teacher read the text book WORD FOR WORD, including phrases such as, “Refer to figure one,” and “This subject goes well beyond the scope of this text book,” FOR THREE WHOLE HOURS NON-STOP. It would have been okay if she didn’t speak so slow that you forgot what she said at the start of a sentence by the time she got to the end. It would have also been okay if she wasn’t speaking so loud down the microphone that not even earplugs would allow you do think about something else. What made it more funny though was she never, ever looked up at the class. NO INTERACTION WHATSOEVER! In fact, people weren’t wearing uniform as they said she doesn’t even notice. She didn’t. Also, people were just chatting in the class and walking out in groups of 5-10 and she didn’t look up from her pages. This may sound normal, but since there were only 20 people in a tiny class room, it was pretty unbelievable. I may have complained to the head of Psychology who said she’d, “Fix the problem.”
Finally, I’ll just touch of the Business Challenge (Case competition) that I participated in a few weeks ago. It has been explained in Blogs before: In a nutshell, all these different universities from around the world send four or so business students to analyse, solve and present business solutions, it’s a bit like management consulting (Thanks Erin). For TUBC, there were 16 universities and our teams of four were locked in our hotel room for 40-hours, preparing a presentation on a snazzy Thai bank called TISCO. Between hours of banter, Ben, Caroline, Jason and I recommended that TISCO gets into Microfinancing (as well as a few other dazzling initiatives). First we needed to present to a panel of three judges, then once we were through to the finals, we presented to the public (500ish people) and a panel of 10 judges, including some CEO’s and CFO’s of the bank, the main sponsor and TESCO supermarket. In the end we won in a draw with Brazil, a group of non-bikini wearing, non-salsa dancing, non-mojito drinking, non-rainforest dwellers, and non- beach volleyball players, who we had befriended earlier. Of course, during the 40 hours cabin fever set in, which lead to a bit of casual boxing and hula-hooping. Sometimes we really just wanted to Swashbuckle!
Important Lesson Number Two: When Thai people strongly insist that you turn up 45 mins before the time on the schedule, they mean it. This is so you can wait for an hour.
You know I love you,