Eight times bigger, eight times busier but just as relaxed as my hometown Cologne. Bangkok can’t get any more open-minded, easy-going and impressive. Staying in a shared apartment with a friend in the coolest residence in the city and having the greatest view from our balcony on Bangkok’s skyline make every day twice more exciting. The Nonsi Residence builds the perfect basis for getting to know many other internationals, learning more about other cultures, having legendary parties and making awesome new friends who also attend Chulalongkorn University.
“smart, smart Chula student” and “I cannot do 50 Baht- it’s ruining my business!”
Chula- that’s what we call it- is ranked Thailand’s #1 university and is therefore the most recognized one as it was established by king Chulalongkorn in 1917. The university is respected for its quality of research, quality of students and its overall reputation. According to the QS World University Ranking 2017 Chulalongkorn is even placed 245th in the world and 45th in Asia. A free shuttle bus takes us directly to Chula which is about 10 minutes away if there isn’t any traffic which is nearly impossible in Bangkok. It only takes about another 10 min by foot from Chula to spend all your money in the biggest, modernized shopping malls one can imagine. But it also only takes another 10 min to be about ready for a quick power nap as everything is just too overwhelming and busy. However, money is quickly fading in “cheap”, contrasting Bangkok. The oldest temples line up next to the most modernized architecture and the fanciest restaurants sit opposite of little, filthy street food stalls offering the tastiest Thai food in the city.
Nevertheless, it can’t get any better than “Mama’s” or “Papa’s” which are the places to go when you live at Nonsi. For about one or two Euros you can get a decent portion of whatever Thai food you desire while studying some useful Thai vocabulary in the menu. Believe it or not, but in “the garage” you can also grab a tasty bite for good money and experience some of the craziest get-togethers nearly every night if you keep up with the madness. But let’s not forget that we came here to study.. Orientation day at Chulalongkorn was quite eventful and straight to the point. It not only took us about an hour to find our faculty of Communication and Arts but we also eventually got to know everyone else from macromedia as well as the Thai professors, student ambassadors and some useful ways how to stay out of jail. To be honest, my flat mate and me were drenched in sweat by the time we found the right building and signed in for all our classes as it is constantly boiling 34 degrees in this city. However, we also immediately transformed into ice cubes once we entered the Chula building due to the aircon. The one thing everyone has to get used to is trying to balance the difference between 34 degrees outside and felt 14 degrees inside. Who knew I should have brought a sweater? However, Chula staff is kind, good-humoured and helpful – there possibly can’t go anything wrong as they have everything figured out. In order to also socialize with some locals and to gather some more impressions of the cultural traditions and visions, we got the chance to meet new buddies at the Chula “Interact Days”. The first days at uni were easy-going and revealed that life in Bangkok will probably be less stressful compared to my uni life in Cologne. While my schedule in Cologne doesn’t even leave much time to work, here I can start exploring, the city, Thailand and its culture after three hours of class four times a week.
The professors even encourage us to spread our wings to go see Thailand and its neighboring countries and even Chula occasionally takes us on some weekend trips. To get out of the rushed city we like to go for a stroll through Lumphini Park which is the biggest green area downtown Bangkok or we spontaneously go for little daytrips to less touristy places like hidden peninsulas.
Frankly, I’ve got so used to all the traffic, people and the noises around me that it actually feels weird to only have to listen to a bird sing further away from the city. Nevertheless, it also kind of reminds me of my city life in Cologne. Open-minded people, packed trains and good vibes everywhere you go. The transition to Bangkok couldn’t have been smoother. Getting used to this “new” lifestyle wasn’t much of a challenge for me as I have already been to Asia before and knew what I was expecting. Still, I can see why some people get overwhelmed by all the relaxed Thai people and the rush of Bangkok. Everything looks like a big mess but yet it’s working out just fine.
Our first trip organized by Chula took us to the seaside resort city Hua Hin about two hours away from the city. The resort we stayed at was fancy and the daytrips to various temples, palaces and nature parks gave us some cultural insights, picture-perfect moments and scary encounters with cheeky monkeys.
Tipps and tricks:
- (night) markets always provide the tastiest local food
- always try to bargain!
- smile 😊 in Thailand- people will smile back
Final fun fact:
- while taking a picture with a flash we literally saw why Bangkok is called a “smog city”-eww!