Kim Carmona is a travel lover at heart and our February Alumni of the Month. Kim spent a year teaching English in Thailand and since returning home from her program, she hasn’t stopped there. Take a look at her video below and read our interview with Kim to learn more about her experiences in Thailand!
We like our Alumni of the Month to begin with GeoVisions’ motto, which is ‘Experiences are more important than landmarks’ – in a couple of sentences, share an experience you had on your program (or a weekend adventuring on your own) that stands out to you.
About 2 months ago, I moved back to Southern California from my year abroad in Thailand and I decided I would book my first trip to the East Coast and visit my top U.S. destination; New York City. I had the first few days on my own where I was able to confidently explore the city on my own, tackle the public transportation system, and discover some local places. I also found myself starting conversation with other travelers and the people from New York. I realized the way I approached this trip and booking it in the first place was something I probably wouldn’t have done prior to moving to Thailand. I felt confident, happy, excited and eager for what was yet to come and I was taking everything in with open arms.
There are great travel apps out there that help you convert currency, translate words or menus and mapping apps. If you used technology abroad – what was your ‘go-to’ app or platform while traveling?
My go-to app was always having google translate on deck as well as the Learn Thai app. I always made sure to have either one available in case I needed to ask questions or simply start a simple conversation with a Thai person. I wanted to make sure I had something that would allow me to communicate and help me feel prepared in any situation.
What would be the advantages and disadvantages of living permanently where you had your GeoVisions program?
Advantages- Continue to learn about Thai culture, build relationships with my students, staff, parents and other participants who are also teaching abroad. Also, being able to live in such an affordable country that allows you to easily travel within Thailand and across Southeast Asia. In addition, learn a new language and enjoy delicious Thai food. Disadvantages- Being away from family and friends which in turn causes you to miss particular events and moments with the ones you love.
What sense do you value most while traveling?
Describe the most interesting person you met on one of your travels.
I don’t think I could quite describe just one person. I was fortunate enough to meet many people that caught my eye and were interesting. From conversations with people who sold me food at the market, to the bus driver that drove me from Bangkok to Northern Thailand, to the daily smoothie lady I would get my drink from, to my students’ parents, they all made for unique and special experiences. They all put a smile on my face and I never really knew what my next topic of conversation would be with some of them which made it interesting.
Did you ever get lost while traveling? If so, tell us about it.
Yes, I got lost multiple times while traveling. Many times they were intentional so I could discover random and new places. I liked getting lost this way as I never really knew what to expect and it would keep it interesting. When I lived in Bangkok, I would take the metro and decide to get off at a stop I had never gotten off at before. I enjoyed doing this as I would walk around until I found a busy street and would decide to stop when I found something that intrigued me whether it was a coffee shop, a market, or a restaurant.
I also unintentionally got lost many times and when that would happen, I would use Google Maps to find my destination or ask a local Thai or another foreigner if they could point me in the direction of where I wanted to go. Sometimes, I would take that opportunity to change plans and set something up where I ended up or if I saw something I wanted to re-visit than I would jot down the area I was in so I could remember to go back and visit.
What are your plans now that you are back home? Any great new adventures you’ll be embarking on?
Since I’ve been back for 2 months now, I have made sure to keep myself busy by exploring more of my current home county in Southern California and have taken trips to Colorado, New York, Yosemite National Park and Los Angeles. I’ve learned that life really is about seeking experiences and taking advantage of each day and moment as life is too beautiful and too short to be bored and not explore. I am currently in the process of deciding my next move but in the meanwhile, I am enjoying time with my family and friends.