It’s been a long time my friend showed me an article in the students’ newspaper about the stay of our professor at Khon Kaen University. The article made us curious so we asked the professor whether an exchange to KKU would be possible for us. Thanks to his effort and connections and after almost one year of preparations we finally arrived in Thailand.
On my first day, the International Relations Officer, Miss Chutikarn Pholsaksai showed me around the Faculty of Dentistry and introduced me to the staff. The school is huge compared to mine in Germany! Although the departments are structured similar to the ones at my school, I had difficulties getting my bearings. In the afternoon we made a tour across the campus which reminds me of a small town. Everything is available, food, dormitories, libraries, shops and sports activities. I started my observations in the surgery department. Since not many undergraduate students were around due to exam week, I had the chance to talk to postgraduate students. One of the doctors organized lunch for all of us which was very nice of him. I hope our German professors would do the same for our guests.
During my stay I realized how difficult the Thai language is. In a normal conversation between the patient and the doctor I can only guess from the treatment what the diagnosis is. I am lucky that some clinical terms are used in English so I can understand at least some words. In the second week of my stay the clinic started to get more crowded again since the students return to the dental treatment chairs.
Additionally, three Japanese exchange students arrived at KKU and join my observations. The Thai students picked us up before every class and introduced us to their class mates. Some of them are not confidential with their English so they were sometimes shy talking to us. Nevertheless, if we had questions they explained us cases and they tried to made our stay as exciting as possible, although all of them were very busy. I felt often reminded of my classes in Germany, since I am always very busy during treatments and the teachers challenge us as much as possible. The students here had the same difficulties and made the same mistakes as we German students do which was greatly relieved to hear. I was surprised how similar the structure of treatment is compared to Germany. Whenever I had the chance to assist a student, I could follow the treatment since I knew what was going on. However, some materials the Thai students use are different from the ones I am used to. It was great that the professors were always open-minded and friendly, so I could ask and discuss about the advantages and disadvantages of the chosen method.
For lunchbreak the Japanese and I joined the Thai students to the canteen. Often, the Thai students had to leave earlier since they needed to prepare the chair for treatment – it’s exactly the same in my German lunch break. Compared to the canteen at my university the offer is more varied. I basically had the chance to choose between all Thai dishes every day. Another main difference is that anybody can order food in the canteen so it happens that you meet your professor as well as your patient there. After school, I either joined the group exercise classes in the gymnasium or I went to the swimming pool. I also enjoyed running around the lake next to the gymnasium together with many other students. The offer of free-time activities at school is amazing! For dinner some of the students took us to restaurants or night markets, which we appreciated a lot. Khon Kaen is a huge city and it is difficult to get to places without having a car or motorcycle. Moreover, in some restaurants the menu is available in Thai only without help of English speaking student I would have no idea what I ordered. Of course the food is very different to the European one and sometimes is acquired taste but after three weeks I was able to deal with it perfectly.
I am sad that my stay is almost over now and that I have to leave this place which I fell in love with. I am also sad to say goodbye to all these new friends I made here. I am looking forward to welcome as many as possible in Germany so I can help them and show them around just as they did for me.
Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen, Germany
March 10 – 30, 2019