Mexico Trek!   Trekkers DISPATCH: August 23 Shawn's Log

Say Hello to Suppalak, Jitlado, and Asle!

Hopefully you know where Mexico is since that’s where the Mexico Trek is visiting! Well, do you know where Thailand and Norway are? You can find them on the Internet if you go to MapQuest and enter the country name. Or if that’s too slow JUST ASK YOUR TEACHER! (That’s the quickest way, right?)

I had the opportunity to meet three people from these countries at the AFS orientation and ask them some questions about life in their countries and their ideas about Mexico.

Students from ThailandFirst meet the two students from Thailand:

See if you can find this information:

  • How do people greet each other in Thailand?
  • Are parents strict in Thailand?
  • In Thailand when you talk with older people what do you have to do?
Suppalak Chantarak
Age: 17
Country: Thailand

Jitlado Udamprasertkul
Age 17
Country: Thailand

Why did you choose Mexico for your year-long exchange?

First, I chose the USA because it is a diverse country with people from India, Japan, Italy, and all over the world. It has many interesting cultures and diversity. AFS chose Mexico for me, and now I am glad because I want to learn another language since I already know English. I wanted to stay in Seattle because an AFS student from there stayed with me for a year. I learned many things from that experience such as English and a new way of greeting by hugging and kissing -- we don’t greet like that in Thailand, we bow or shake hands.

I also chose the USA, but there were no more spaces there available. I wanted to go there because it is a very modern country and beautiful. I also wanted to study English more and learn it better. I am excited about being here in Mexico though. It is a very interesting country with many traditions.

What is your family like in Thailand?

There are four people in my family, I have one brother and live with my father in Northern Thailand. My father is very strict. He does not let me stay out very late, or have a boyfriend. He wants me to study hard so I can get into a good University. He lets me have friends that are boys, but my family teaches me that we should not have sex before marriage. My mother lives far away in Southern Thailand. I do not get to see her often. She wanted me to go on an exchange with AFS and is proud of me, because it is difficult to get accepted into AFS. She wants me to learn more languages.

My parents are divorced also and I live with my father in and my brother and sister. I do not get to talk to my father much because he is very busy with his job. He owns a motorcycle parts shop and works many hours each day. My mother lives in another house in the same town, but I do not see her much either because she is also very busy with work and goes to Bangkok often.

What do you think Mexican Culture will be like?

I think Mexicans are very friendly. I met a Mexican on the plane and he was very nice. I am interested because I have heard that there are still some Indian people living here. I think Mexican food is similar to Thai food because it is spicy. It is a festive culture with lots of celebrations.

At first I imagined that it must be really good, like a dream. But when I learned more, I realized that it was not so perfect. The country is beautiful, but with much poverty and pollution. Mexicans have big families, and a tradition of respecting their elders, which is similar to Thailand. The old people are given respect and people must be polite to them. In Thailand when talking to older people you must have good posture and should not touch their heads. They make many important decisions in the families.

What fears do you have about being in Mexico?

I am afraid of not being able to speak the language. I don’t know if I will be understood, or be able to understand others. I am also afraid that I will not like the food. I don’t think I will be able to find Thai food here. I hope I can get used to Mexican food.

I will have to find new friends and get used to having a new family. I have good friends and family in Thailand and it will be hard to make new ones. I am also afraid that I will not be understood. Communication will be difficult.

What will you miss most about Thailand?

My parents and friends. I will really miss Thai food.

I will also miss my family and the food.

What are you most excited about?

I am excited about learning a new language and learning about a new culture. Thai and Mexican cultures are very different, so it will be a very interesting experience.

I want to have more responsibility than I have at home and learn to take care of myself. I will learn to be more adult here and independent. It is also exciting to learn another language and culture.

Asle plays guitar.Now meet the third student I interviewed:

See if you can find this information:

  • How many people live in Asle’s hometown?
  • What kind of food does Asle eat a lot of?
  • What does he say the people are like in Mexico?
Asle Hoel
Age: 16
Country: Norway

What is your family like in Norway?

I have a brother and a sister who have both moved out on their own. Both my parents work. My father has his own business and drives a truck. My mother works in a shoe store. We eat most meals together, especially on weekends. When I was younger we took many trips together to Europe and other parts of Norway. I think they will feel a bit lonely now, since all their children have moved out. Next year I will go to school in a different part of Norway to study airplane mechanics.

Why did you choose Mexico?

I wanted to learn Spanish, so I chose Spanish speaking countries. First I wanted to go to Spain, but then I decided to go someplace even further away, to Mexico.

What are your fears about living in Mexico?

I think it will be hard to make new friends and build a social life. I have a 13-year-old host brother and we are sharing a room. That is a very difficult age and it might be hard to live so closely with him. I am staying in Mexico City and it will also be hard to get used to such a big, crowded city. My hometown Brattvaag has only 2,000 people and Mexico City is the largest city in the world. There is much more stress here. It is totally different from what I am used to. This city is so big that you cannot even see the end of it, even from an airplane.

What do think Mexican culture is like?

It seems like Mexicans have lots of fun together. Lots of dancing and eating. It is a bit colder here than I expected. Mexican people seem very open, they want to talk to you a lot and share.

What will you miss the most about Norway?

I will miss mostly my friends. We are very close. We hang out a lot and go to parties and discos. We like to listen to heavy metal music and techno. I like Nine Inch Nails and Machine Head. I will also miss hiking and fishing in the mountains. I live close to both the mountains and the sea, so I will miss all that nature. Also I will miss the food. We eat a lot of goat cheese, which I may not be able to find here.

What are you looking forward to?

Mainly, to see how the people live. The food is very good. The climate is different here, where I live it is very cold and rains all the time.

What do think the main differences are between Norway and Mexico?

Mainly, the social standards. The people in Norway are very rich. In Norway, people do not open themselves so much, it takes a while to make friends, but once you do you will have a good friend. Here people are very open and friendly right away.


Related Dispatches: 
Monica - Wanna visit another country? These youth are doing it. Find out how!
Shawn - Mexico - It's all about Tequila and sombreros, right? It's not?
Shawn - Shawn vs The World in basketball.
Shawn - Meet Suppalak, Jitlado, and Asle!

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