09 September 2005

Concrete for breakfast

My mind is so full I don't know where to begin.

I don't like admitting that I don't like Bangkok. When I first started seriously looking for a place to study away, Gaylon and Zenia gave me a multitude of recommendations, listed beautiful places all over the world…and told me to stay away from Bangkok. When Teresa talked about her months in Asia, she glowed about everything…until Bangkok came up, and she started scowling. Hours of Google and elbow grease later, I was oscillating between two choices: Kenya and Thailand. Qualifying criteria: 1) Not in Europe or the Americas, and 2) a wide variety of classes, including psychology. The decision process is only clean-cut and concise in retrospect. I had no clue in hell what I was doing. I'm not exactly sure what tipped Thailand. I think it might have been the neuroscience course in their catalog, which is ironically not offered this term after all.

I'm not unhappy here… just takes a lot more effort to stay happy. I think this is going to be my semester of self-discipline. I've considering joining the army or the navy in the past, just because I want the experience and the discipline. I wanted to be forced to test my limits, and by doing so, expand them. (Corny, I know…) I've since realized that I'll never learn to be strong unless I learn to test my own limits without being forced. I think I'm going to jump into Peace Corps after college. Thailand is my boot camp now.

It's amusing that I want to be more disciplined and yet more spontaneous at the same time. I want to be strong enough to keep myself above apathy, to have the stamina it takes to be happy. Thailand will teach me to be more patient and assertive, less panicky and thin-skinned. I want to be open to the world, but at the same time, I don't want to let it tear me apart.

Anyone who thinks America is a nation of consumer whores should take a day trip to Bangkok. I have never experienced such blatant commercialism in my life. Bangkok is a writhing sea of fast food, clothing, shoes, cars, and cell phones. There are billboards screaming everywhere, empty smiling ad faces look out from every corner, and sometimes I feel like I'm trapped inside a giant shopping mall.

There are astounding wats (temples) and palaces nestled between the expressways and the skyscrapers, but even they seem decadent, glaring, overdone. We've taken lightning tours across the city, and I've seen enough golden Buddhas to last a lifetime. I just want to find a small, quiet, cool stone temple with a small wooden Buddha on some back road and sit for hours in silence away from the noise and the tourists and the exhaust.

In other news, the air conditioner in our shaft-and-a-half bedroom broke. Now it spits out scorching hot air. Yipee.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. So self-aware. Makes me wonder why everyone who studies away comes back cooler and better for it. Is it the time? Some magical "perspective"? Miss you, dear. ~George