I am writing on a significant day. Today is the day I would have been home had I stayed in Thailand for the length of my program.

In August, I flew bright-eyed and bushy-tailed into a completely different world. I wanted to launch myself into an entirely new and unfamiliar culture… and I got exactly what I asked for. Everything was different than what I grew up with: food, weather, people, language, and every little aspect of life. It was spectacular.

My plan was to be there for nearly 5 months, but my dream program was cut short when a very difficult decision was made. For years, I have been working through life with chest pain that was recently diagnosed as a confusing array of vascular conditions and heart disease. My tunnel-vision focus on study abroad blinded me from the potential risks of being so far from home.

Don’t get me wrong, the three months I had the opportunity to spend in Thailand were valuable and unforgettable. I learned more than I ever thought I would and my perspective on many situations has shifted.

I learned the Thai language more than I ever could have imagined. I learned how to adjust to seemingly strange situations. I learned to live in a beautiful corner of this planet. I learned about what it is like to be in some Thai ERs and to spend 3 days in a Thai ICU. I learned about the limitations of having a fiercely independent personality, and how much we really need each other.

Thankfully, I was given permission to finish my semester from the States. For the past 2 months, I have been hunkered down in Ann Arbor, studying my Thai, reading on Buddhism, and continuing to apply the artistic techniques I learned in Thailand. It has been pretty tough to be here while my program continued on. With everything going on, though, it was very challenging to be on the other side of the world without my family and friends.

But today… today is the day that it is all over. I can finally exhale and tell myself that I would have been home now anyway so what difference does it make? But I can say with certainty, this experience has made a lasting impact on my life! Thanks for reading!

Published by Emily Tyner

Class of 2021 TEAN Chiang Mai, Thailand Kinesiology

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