With the excitement of a dog before a walk I boarded the plane to Bangkok on the 8th of January. The promise of 6 weeks working and travelling around Thailand had seemed almost too good to be true until my bags were finally checked in, we were going! After being seated next to the coolest chicken-eating vegan for about 16 hours our group of fifteen managed to make it to Bangkok.
Our first few days were spent getting used to Bangkok, being introduced to our internships, and a taking weekend to a remote village in the North of Thailand. In the village hardly anyone spoke English and we encountered our first serious language-barrier as a group. We made friends with some of the local children, took a relaxing boat ride, jumped from a tree, and even celebrated a newly found Thai friend's birthday. Even after settling into our internships the next week, the rest of the trip proved to be just as exciting.
I was placed at a company called HUBBA along with three other Kiwi's. HUBBA is a co-working space and platform with three different sites across Bangkok. With big ambitions, they found me useful in working on their internal "social network" of sorts. Automating some of their accounting reporting, using machine learning to add intelligence to their network, and performing some statistical analysis were some of my contributions over the 6 weeks.
The work culture was definitely different at HUBBA to most workplaces in New Zealand. Even as an intern, most of my work was largely unsupervised and self-driven. I think I actually benefitted from this as it allowed me the freedom to experiment and come up with some really cool stuff. The HUBBA family were awesome too, with late nights playing Exploding Kittens and other games. I feel so privileged to have been welcomed into this family.
Our cultural experiences extended past the work place as we took weekend trips away from Bangkok. Our host from Mahidol University, Chan, had planned such an incredible variety of activities. An intense Thai boxing class at a real Muay-Thai academy, a day volunteering at an elephant sanctuary, mangrove planting with mud fights, and even a weekend at Koh Chang snorkelling.
Not everything was easy going, but there were no shortages of learning experiences. Our host Chan must be one of the greatest people I've ever met, and I can't wait to catch up with him in Bangkok later on in the year. I also wouldn't have had this experience without the hard work from Stephen Hardman, Will Shannon, and Charlie Rose Jackson at UC. Also a huge thank you to Education NZ and everyone behind the Prime Ministers Scholarship for Asia, I wouldn't have been able to have these experiences without your help.