If I were to describe my first couple of weeks in Thailand thus far, I would say the experience is like a ภูเขา (P̣hūk̄heā). A mountain with many beauties, triumphs, and despair. Tramping has always been an emotional activity. With no final destination in sight yet still having to push through, going up a mountain is not my go-to activity for fun. The night before my flight to Bangkok was a blur of different emotions. To think I would be living in a foreign country, away from family and experiencing my internship, I knew that the next two months would be eventful.
Interestingly, the actual internship was not my greatest concern. I have confidence in my abilities fostered by university projects, so it is an especially wonderful feeling to be validated in a space outside of academics. The first week interning as the Marketing Department’s graphic designer at RingZero Game Studio has been amazing! Utilising my knowledge and skills in an industry space has been a confidence boost. It has also made me realise how much I enjoy being in this line of work. To quote from a favourite meme of mine, “graphic design (truly) is my passion”. Times have been pleasant, though when there are peaks, there are lows.
Communication is a peculiar practice. There are so many nuances, and it drastically shifts with the situation. Everybody in RingZero is friendly and encouraging, which helped me settle in record time. Although we are all able to have small talk with each other outside of work conversations, the language and cultural differences are apparent. This situation is precedented, though it did make me wish I was somewhat competent with Thai. This difference also led to miscommunication which affected workflow at times, as well as moments where I needed clarification on whether an English phrase translated well in this different cultural context. However, these issues have been easy to overcome, and communication with my coworkers will come naturally for me with more time.
It is now the third week in Bangkok. My lifestyle here is drastically different to the one back in Aotearoa. Working a 9 to 6 job in a metropolitan area several times bigger than Auckland has its perks and flaws. I enjoy being in the big city and how accessible everything is (especially food). But in the moments of being crushed in a crowded train, I do miss the peaceful and slow moments back home. However, what I miss the most is dinner time with my family. Coming from a Chinese family where dinner was the bonding activity in our everyday schedule, dining without that ritual has been the source of homesickness. Having wonderful groupmates, though, help lessen the moments of melancholy; for that, I am grateful.
Despite graphic design being something I do enjoy, there are times when work is mundane. Having effortlessly gone down the slope, it is time to push on to the next hike up. What was initially so exhilarating back in the first week faded with the initial romanticisation. This was eventually going to happen, and I appreciate this internship being long enough for me to better understand and evaluate my aspirations for the future. After this internship, I will be much more prepared for the most important and gruelling climb: life after graduation.
As most of the week is dedicated to my internship, I have been pushing myself to make the most out of my break days by exploring Thailand. Whether it is shopping in the iconic Siam malls, solo cycling around Bangkok’s green lung, or going on an overnight group trip to Krabi, my time here has been fulfilling. Even when there are mishaps along the way, it is always best to value the whole experience. From these excursions, I have developed a better understanding of myself. It is the strive for independence, overcoming the challenges faced when reaching the mountain’s peak. But, at the end of the day, the people around me are just as important. Encouragement, assistance, and care. From the university peers in this program, coworkers at the company, and the good-hearted strangers in Thailand, I can pursue the final destination because of these people.
With the peaks and lows, tramping through a mountain range is not my go-to activity. But I look forward to the next five weeks of this trip as the beginning journey for this year.