I check into the Initial ApartHotel on Petchkasem Rd with all my bags and University documents, hot and bothered from the Tuk Tuk trip stuck in traffic, the cool blast from the air-conditioning in reception hits me like a welcome ton of bricks, my nerves are alive with excitement as I fill out the necessary forms and wait to receive my key-card for what will be my home for the next 3 semesters. With free Wi-Fi, a balcony with a view, an outdoor swimming pool and a fully-furnished room with even a LCD TV, right in the middle of Hua Hin with bars, restaurants and white sandy beaches just a few minutes walk away, i think this will suit me VERY nicely indeed.
Khun Lek, the lovely lady at reception beckons me to follow her while she leads me to my room. Thanking her graciously, i walk into my room and for a moment, i stand there smiling as i take it all in. I’d made it. All those months of planning, all those visa documents, all the qualifications that had to be faxed over along with my application, it had all been worth it to be standing where i was at that moment. From the dreary cold streets of Manchester, England, i had travelled nearly 6,000 miles and i was now a student at Webster Thailand, Cha-Am/Hua Hin campus.
I had already met some of my fellow Webster Thailand students enrolled at the course whilst i was sorting out documents and my application at the campus, we had swapped numbers and LINE ID’s and had all agreed to meet up later that afternoon to discover for the first time what Hua Hin had to offer. With a nice afternoon and evening planned (and quite possibly late into the night!) i set about unpacking my bags and started to make the furnished but impersonal room my own, occasionally stopping to smile and pinch myself that I was actually here, living in Thailand and it wasn’t all a dream.
“Time flies when you’re having fun” is the motto, and with all my bags unpacked, and a bottle of Singha beer already drunk whilst taking in the view from my balcony looking out across Hua Hin, it was 5pm already and the sun was creeping ever closer to the horizon. I sent out a few messages to the students who had swapped numbers, and soon a plan was forming and we agreed to meet near the Night Market by Petchkasem Rd at Coco51 restaurant by the sandy beach.
I had already traveled to many countries around the world, and never had any problem making friends. But when you meet people for the first time that you know you will be seeing every day, perhaps even sitting next to in class for the next year, there is a slight pressure and awkwardness that you either MUST be friends, or if a clash of personalities exists, one must cut and run and find new friends before social groups start forming and closing to outsiders. Thankfully, this was not the case. Very quickly, Ross and I were talking and laughing over beers when some of the others started to arrive. There was a great atmosphere as everyone had already paired up with someone they liked which took any pressure away, and everyone started to bond as we each shared our stories about who we were, where we were from and what brought us to Thailand.
By 7.30pm, and several beers downed, we were well on our way to being nice and merry. We called “Check Bin” and headed out into the night as the lights and sounds of the Night Market buzzed all around. If you haven’t been to Thailand before, it’s difficult to describe the sights, smells and sounds of a Thai market, there’s simply nothing else like it. We found a great looking bar with chairs and tables out on the street, serving traditional Thai food to the locals and tourists alike. We pulled up a pew and continued on into the night, laughing, eating, joking and drinking. One of the magical things of being in the “uknown” with fellow Webster Thailand students is that it brings people together and make them “best friends’ in incredibly short spaces of time. With midnight soon approaching, it was amazing how quickly we had all bonded, and we were already talking about tomorrow and what we would all do…together.
We all had an early start the next day, there was an induction at the campus that we all had to attend, but we knew it would be finished by 11am and we were already deciding on whether to all go to Black Mountain Water Park, or if we should go to Plearn Wan Shopping Village to stock up on supplies before the semester started the following Monday.
As we left the street restaurant merrily walking towards the top of the road to find the Tuk Tuk’s waiting, it dawned on me that in the space of 36 hours I had travelled around the world, leaving everything behind to start a new life studying in Thailand, i had already made some great friends, and there was a wonderful feeling that I had made the best decision of my life to come and study in Thailand with Webster University.
Now this might not be your usual “Day in the life of…”, but it was so special, and the first of many, that i had to share it with you all.