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The Art Of Being Alone

What does it truly mean to be alone? How many of us can truly say that we have perfected that art? Many people are constantly looking for fulfillment and happiness through external sources, but they fail to understand that true happiness comes only from within.

Studying abroad in America is not my first time being away from home, but I still feel the sense of loneliness. At first I would do everything with people. I feared of being alone in a restaurant or in a movie theater. I wouldn’t even go shopping alone. Indeed, I did that for the sake of having someone around just so I would not be seen as undesirable in my own eyes and in the eyes of others. However, as time goes by, my perspective has changed. Now, I need time to myself. I realize I could do all these things by myself, and I have really learned to enjoy my own company.

While studying abroad, I have learned to be supportive of myself, to be my own best friend, and to make myself laugh. I believe my first year abroad was the toughest year. I suffered with loneliness. It’s kind of hard to leave family and friends behind. However, after many tearful months, I realized that being alone does not mean that I am lonely. I am pleased to say that I have come out on the other side and I have found happiness within myself. Personally, I believe loneliness is an art. It helped me to become a better person. It took me out of my comfort zone and helped me become an independent person.

So if you find yourself alone and sad about it, it’s ok. Don’t be afraid of being alone; instead embrace it and you will eventually conquer it and start to see that you can fill your own heart with light.

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If you are planning to study abroad in the near future, you are probably worrying about how you can stay in touch with the people close to you, whether it’s family, friends, or even your love. Even though studying abroad is a great way to meet new people, it doesn’t mean that you have to leave the old ones behind. Indeed, when you are studying abroad, no matter if it is right across the border or around the world; keeping in touch with friends and family is a must!

Communicating across continents can be challenging; for example, international phone calls can be expensive. However, as global infrastructure improves and technology advances, the numbers of cost-effective online communication programs continues to increase.
Thus, I am going to explore a few communicating tools that I usually use to keep in touch with my family and friends back home while I am studying abroad.

1. Skype
Probably the easiest way to get in touch with folks back home is through Skype. Skype is the most cost-effective online communicating tool that I use to talk to my family and friends. This program allows me to make a video call without any fees. The video and voice quality is great. It allows me to get back in touch and complete some basic, necessary communications face-to-face, which is almost the same as talking to them in person.
2. Blog
Blogs are recently my favorite way to keep in touch with people back home! By updating my blogs regularly, it enables me to show friends and family my daily life and my living abroad experiences. By using this tool, my friends and family can follow my RSS feed easily. Blogging also helps me avoid the need of sending out mass emails as I can relate my adventures and have people check it that way, leave messages, and contribute to my awesome experience abroad.

3. Facebook
Facebook is a good way of telling my stories to a large audience. In my opinion, Facebook is currently one of the best tools to keep in touch with friends and family back home. Tagged pictures and status updates allow me both my parents and my friends to know what is going on in my life.

5. Lines and WhatsApp
Another great innovation of recent years has been the increasingly excellent communication available through instant messaging programs. Messaging services such as Lines and WhatsApp are great programs that allow me to communicate with people in Thailand. The users can just simply download these instant messaging applications to their phone. These applications will allow users to send text, photos, and video messages to international numbers, so you don’t need to be tethered to your computer waiting for your friends or family to come online.

If you’ve never looked into any of the above resources before, these many different choices may seem a bit overwhelming. It’s not that complicated though, and you can find what works best for you. So, I would encourage you to investigate and start to use these technologically advance tools to keep in touch with your loved ones back home.

Thanksgiving is very culturally American. It’s a really great opportunity for me as an international student to see first hand what the American holiday looks like. For me, I would describe Thanksgiving as a warm and interesting day. Honestly, before coming to America, I had no idea what Thanksgiving was. But now, I have learned that Thanksgiving is the day that Americans give thanks to God together for all the blessings that he has given to them. For me, the best of Thanksgiving was the idea of sitting around all day, surrounded by food, for hours on end without practice and school.

This thanksgiving marked the second year that I was able to forgo homemade Thai cooking to experience an American tradition firsthand. For this year, one of my coaches invited me to come to her house to offer me a taste of American culture.

On Thursday my roommate and I arrived at her house around four thirty in the evening. As soon as I entered the house, the tremendous aroma of all the foods filled the air and my taste buds begin salivating in anticipation for the meal. There was plenty of food on the table that her husband cooked for us. When we began the meal, I immediately reached for the turkey and proceeded to take a huge slab of meat for my plate. The turkey topped with cranberry sauce was bomb. It was a big piece of meat, roasted to perfection with the sweet taste of the sauce. The skin also had some sort of spice on it. The taste was absolutely exquisite. Seriously, in less than twenty minutes, I proceeded to wolf down this massive chunk of turkey.

After consuming a whole lot of turkey my stomach began to feel very full. But I had no choice but to make room for dessert! As soon as the pumpkin pie and cherry pie were removed from the oven, the air was filled with an aroma that can only be described as sensational. Usually, I am not a big fan of pumpkin pie, but this homemade pie was amazing! I don’t remember exactly when I started or stopped eating the pie. All I remember is that I ate and ate until I had consumed an enormous amount of pie. It was ultimately at the conclusion of the meal, that my stomach reached maximum capacity.

However, no matter how amazing and wonderful the food is, it is not the main purpose of the day. Being able to spend a day with your whole family is truly a tremendous privilege. On Thanksgiving Day, relatives come from all over the country to be with their loved ones. They celebrate and spend time together sharing stories about their different lives. It is at this moment that I realize how special it is to have family who love and care for each other. It is the kind of realization that will remain with me for many years to come.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I am realizing that this is another holiday season I am away from home. With so much stress with school work and seeing almost everyone on the team going back home over the break, I seriously thought for the very first time since being here that I really want to go home right now!!!!

There is no place like home for me during the holidays. Being with family with true warmth is what I am yearning for right now. Sometimes I asked myself “why am I being here?” I certainly feel a little homesick and miss my family and friends back home very much. Sure I have some other friends here, but I feel just as lost as a tourist wandering around America. It’s the weirdest feeling of detachment, like watching a dramatic movie scene unfold before me with no emotional interest.

However, being the optimist, I instead try and put a positive spin on it. Instead of being regretful that I am not be able to go home and to be with my family like my other friends, I am instead thankful that I have such an amazing family to even miss this much. While being abroad, I have seen plenty of people who are away from home and never even seem to miss it at all. I take my feelings of homesickness as a testament to how lucky I am to have such a wonderful family waiting for me on the other side of the world. I keep reminding myself to not be regretful since I know that my parents allowing me the opportunity to come here is something that I will never be able to truly express my appreciation for. I am incredibly lucky to have such amazing people in my life, and I cannot wait to see them again when I graduate this coming spring!

Just like that, Thanksgiving break is coming in about a week. For me, it’s the third time in which I’ll be staying in Reno for the Thanksgiving break while most of my American friends are going back to their hometown. With that in mind, I thought I’d address a common concern for many students who feel stuck at school over the break – boredom.

There is not doubt that it is a lot less exciting during the school break because most of your friends are gone. Yes, there are fewer people around and fewer things going on during the break. However, that doesn’t mean you have to be bored. There are tons of things out there to keep you occupied as long as you make them happen.

With that in mind, I have 4 awesome ideas to keep you from being bored this Thanksgiving break.

1. Learn a New Skill
Without classes, you have more time during the break. Sure, you might have a job that takes up some of that time, but once you clock out, you’re free. Instead of spending your time watching old episodes of Friends, take your free time to learn a new, useful skill. You can enjoy your life learning a new recipe or even learn to play golf like a pro. Find what interests you and pursue it. Need more inspiration? Here are 50 more ideas.

2. Work on Your Personal Brand
As I’ve learned in my Social Business class, building an effective personal brand is key to getting the job you want and realizing your full potential. You have to build yourself up as an expert in whatever field you’re looking to break into and to make sure people know about it. Thanksgiving break is an excellent time to work on building your brand. With classes and other distractions out of the way, you have the time to really focus and improve how you want yourself to be seen professionally. Make sure your online profiles are professional and start using them to network with people in your field.

3. Focus on Your Health
It’s important to keep your health in a good shape and Thanksgiving break presents a perfect opportunity for you to focus intensely on your fitness goals. Being around campus, you probably have easy access to a gym, and you can build foundational strength. Without classes, you can also sleep more. I recommend you sleep at least 8 hours per night to make up the sleeping time that you have been giving up throughout the school year.

4. Get a Shot of Adrenaline

Guess what? You don’t have class tomorrow. You know what that means? It’s a BREAK, which means it’s the best time to try out all the crazy stuff you’re scared to do. Get yourself an adrenaline rush and try something crazy like bungee jumping, skydiving, mountain climbing, etc. Actually, the activity you do doesn’t have to be crazy, but get out and do something that gets your blood pumping to make it FUN and make your life more interesting.

Before coming to America, someone told me that the Thai and American education systems are fairly similar. They begin with pre-school and kindergarten, then move through the 12 grades of study over 12 calendar years of primary and secondary education before graduation. Students are required to take different subjects from English and Thai to math and science. However, after I have been in America for four years, I have noticed that the two education systems are extremely different. Going to school in America has proven to be quite the unique experience for me.

1. The concept of lateness and absence.

Most of the classes in American college have an absence policy. In most cases, students are only allowed 3 classes missed in the semester. Most of the professors are quite in favor for the students to use their three absences wisely in sickness. On the other hand, most school in Thailand, especially at the college level, do not require attendance. Nobody cares if you are coming to class. I personally like the way it works in Thailand because sometimes we all need to miss more than three classes for some accidental event, or even for our own mental wellness. I also believe that if you are a college student, you should have the responsibility to take care of yourself. It is your own choice either you want to pass or fail the class. You pick!

2. Works load and hands-on experience is highly valued.

Something that has always bugged me about the American schooling system is that our grade is based heavily on homework assignments. Experience and actual hands-on work also ranks supreme in American education system. Students are required to do actual reporting and  interviewing. In contrast, in Thailand, a  grade is typically based on performance tests and exams. Eighty percent of our course grade is based on mid-term and final exams. Only five to ten percent is based on homework assignments. In my opinion, studying in America is easier than in Thailand, but sometimes it can also be frustrating due to the work load, especially when I have to practice at the same time.

3. There is an obvious small community feel of the school.

The University of Nevada is “small” enough that you will see at least one or two familiar faces while walking to class. The universities in Thailand, however, have approximately 25,000 students in total. Classroom in Thailand also are huge because there are approximately over 200 students per classroom compare to classroom in America that only have about 40 students in each class. In fact, while studying in America, I have found that having such a small community makes it easier for me to create friendships and bonds with classmates.

4. School uniforms

There is more freedom in America where schools have no uniform policy. Students can wear whatever they like to school. In contrast, in Thailand, all students look identical as all students are required to wear a school uniform. A collared white shirt and black skirt or black pants are the uniform for every college in Thailand. The only difference that can distinguish each school is the pin containing the school logo that the students have to attach to their shirt and the belt. Thai students, in fact, grow up wearing uniforms to primary school, secondary school, and even in college, so wearing a school uniform is no big deal.

Student uniforms at universities in Thailand

Last Saturday, our Wolf Pack Swimming and Diving team defeated New Mexico Lobos team scoring 160.5 – 139.5 points at our first home meet of this season. One thing that I have learned from this meet was team effort.

During the meet, I saw everyone fight with both determination and precision. The whole team came together to establish a strong presence in the pool. Everyone put their best effort in every races. Even though we were 8 points down at the first half of the race, the whole team fought back and kept focusing to win the meet. We all raced with determination and also contributed a positive energy for the team as a whole. It was the kind of energy and passion that defines our swimming and diving team.

Being on this team, I have learned the importance of ‘teamwork’ where everyone supports each other. Indeed, swimming team in America is based on the idea that everyone relies on each other. I believe I will never feel this sense of team spirit in Thailand, because in Thailand, swimming is more like an individual and independent sport. Everyone is basically your enemy!

I remember my first college meet here, I flipped out because my teammates were yelling at me behind the blocks during my race. I mean, in Thailand, no one cares if you are win or lose. But here, on the other hand, the focus is more on teamwork and team cohesion in which I believe they are the keys of success. Yet, in order for a team to move forward, everyone must be headed in the same direction.