My brain, particularly throughout the first few days after arriving in Bangkok on April 3rd, was on overdrive taking in what it could and filtering out what was unnecessary to any specific task that I was trying to accomplish or what my physical needs were at any given moment. I arrived alone, at the Suvarnabhumi airport, and somehow after being awake for more than 24 hours I was able to negotiate my way through customs and immigration and find my way to a hotel. I slept, for a blessed 4 hours and then made my way back to the airport to meet up with the rest of the study abroad group.
CUSP 296’s Globalization Study Abroad amazing race began the next afternoon… I, as well as the other students were broken up into five teams and given vague instructions on how to negotiate Bangkok’s mass transportation system (we each received a rail pass and hopefully someone from the group had picked up a map from the hotel) and its city streets. We were also given 500 Baht to cover some expenses and we then embarked on a scavenger hunt for locations and items that many of us had never heard of and off of instructions that were sometimes given in a language we didn’t understand. The goal was to earn points by completing a long list of tasks such as finding a market that sold fruits or other food items we had never eaten, insects (sold as food and that we had to eat…), specific and significant city locations, and then coaxing a bystander to take a picture of the group to document our accomplishment. My team decided to travel to a far end of the BTS (Bangkok Transit System) where one of our tasks was located and then work our way back towards our hostel, knowing that at around 5pm Professor Reinnoldt would text us with a final clue that would direct us to the finish line. The first team to reach his secret location would earn extra points. After a long (and extremely hot and sweaty) day we all managed to make it to the Robin Hood pub located along Sukhumvit Road shortly after 5 pm, and no one got lost, and we all arrived fairly close together. Truly amazing. This game was a great way to enter a new city, take a crash course on its infrastructure and learn as much as possible under extreme circumstances. For me it expedited breaking the “I’m a tourist” ice so to speak and forced me not to be timid about approaching people on the street and venturing out into a completely different environment.