28.03.2017 15:35

Left paradise and found new home in the North

Autor: Ruta Draskinyte | Kurz: English section | Kategorie: Features and other

Exotic, beautiful and cheerful – the most accurate words to describe Mook, a 21-year-old girl from Thailand who now lives and studies in North Europe, Lithuania. By the way, Mook is a nickname given by her mother, which means a pearl. Her real name is Jeerapat Nantanapramoth and it is kind of self-explanatory why most of the people in Thailand have nicknames – it is extremely hard to pronounce their names if you are not native.

Thailand is often called “the paradise on earth”, so it is a surprise that somebody wants to leave it. However, Mook says that if she had stayed in her homeland, she would never have grown up. “I was studying in the international university in Thailand, but I wasn’t happy there. It wasn’t really that international – we were always speaking in Thai and I couldn’t improve my English,” says Mook. So, after her mother and Lithuanian step-father offered her to come study to Europe, she instantly agreed.

She had around one month to prepare before the new semester started at her new university, “It happened so quickly! My mom invited me and suddenly I was there,” says Mook. When I asked, what she knew about Lithuania, she said, “many people didn’t even know the country. Also, it is thought that as it was in Soviet Union, it is kind of a 3rd world country, however, it is untrue. Most of the things are great and even better here in Lithuania.”

Of course, climate change was the most noticeable. Mook came in December, so the temperature around 8000km away from Thailand was completely different. “It was the first time I saw snow and I was crazy about it! Honestly, now I prefer winter here, because you can wear clothes if it is cold, but in Thailand it is so hot, that even if you are naked it is still too hot,” she laughs.

The weather is not the only difference in Europe. Because of different culture, interaction between people and traditional cuisine may also be challenging for international students. For example, in Thailand people always keep the distance between each other. They are more closed and even while greeting they do not have physical contact. Talking about the food, Mook laughs that she had to put spices on every dish she got in the restaurant.

While adapting to a new environment, when you come to study abroad, language, study system differences and not knowing anyone may be frightening for newcomers. “At first I was very afraid of going to university, I thought nobody would like me. Even in the city, people were staring at me, because I am Asian. I am very thankful that my groupmates were very nice. They even walked me home on my first day! I was so happy and less afraid,” says Mook. However, she admits that studying abroad was harder than she expected. “Nobody could speak Thai here, I was on my own. Also, the study system is very different, but I like it here better. Teachers are very interactive, you have to speak, while in Thailand, even though it was in English, we were only listening, we didn’t improve our speaking skills. And everybody seemed so smart in my class! This was really challenging and it really pushed me to study,” she says.

Now, after couple of years studying abroad, she decided to become ESN member and she really loves it. “At first I was only a mentor for foreign students. I know how it is important to have someone who can lead you, to help you to top up a bus ticket, for example. I knew that I can help, that I can be a mentor, because I know it is hard to come to a new country, especially for Asians, when everything is totally different.” So now she is not only a mentor, but she is also in the ESN board and works with Public Relations where she writes articles and essays, and is happy to improve her writing skills.

Mook says she found her new home here. She has great friends, a loving boyfriend, she helps foreign students to adapt and already forgot the habit to add spices everywhere“my boyfriend’s mother is the best cook! Now I love Lithuanian Food!” Talking about future plans, Mook says she wants to do her Master’s degree in Germany or England, however, she is considering the possibility to start family here. “I was always afraid of rejection, I hate it, but Lithuania really accepted me.” Also, she really encourages students to go study abroad, “I recommend it for everyone, it may be really hard, but you have to be open-minded and really go out of your comfort zone, because it helps to grow up and in the end, you won’t regret it”.

Klíčová slova: profile story, study abroad, Thailand, Lithuania, Europe, Asia, exotic



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