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I still think of thailand
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  1. #1
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    I still think of Thailand

    Swadee krup. My name is Nadanai Laohakunakorn. I am 14 years old, and I study at Winchester College in England. I wrote this ‘small’ article to let readers know a bit about my life (well, more than a bit), and to find out about a Thai boy studying in England.

    I grew up in Bangkok, and I went to ‘anubarn’ school there. When I was seven, my father (an MD from Chula) decided to specialise in pediatric cardiology. He wanted to study in America, so it was there that we went.

    My adventure in America was probably the biggest one I’ve had to date. It wasn’t really an adventure, but it seemed like one to me, as I boarded a plane and changed my entire life. America was an entirely different world to Thailand. Full of surprises for me, I quickly got used to it. My dad did his training in two parts: a preliminary 2-year course at the Jersey City Medical Center in New Jersey, and then the actual 4-year pediatric cardiology course at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. I attended the first and second grades in the small town of Livingston, NJ. In my first year, I hardly knew any English, and so I attended a school with a good ESL (EFL) reputation. Then, in the second grade, I moved to a different school, one with a superior academic record.

    In the third grade, I was supposed to go to a school in Charleston. We had an exciting move down South, and made the entire journey by car (by that time, I was already used to long-distance car journeys—we had already made two trips, one to Virginia, and the second one to Florida, which was further from NJ than Charleston). But my dad found some problems in getting a house, and so I came back to attend Ruamrudee International School in Bangkok.

    I had visited Bangkok once, in my summer break, and this second visit home reminded me of where ‘home’ really was (I tended to forget Thailand when I was in America). Really, I shouldn’t have, because I had lived in Bangkok for seven whole years before. I re-learnt reading and writing (not speaking, though—I always spoke Thai with my parents).

    My dad finally finished renting a new home, and so we all moved back to Charleston. I spent the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades at a private school in Charleston. I had always gone to public schools before, in NJ, and one would have expected a large difference, but the quality of education in South Carolina was lower, and so the SC private school was about the same as the NJ public schools. I was really happy there.
    My dad finally finished his training, and we moved back to Bangkok two summers ago, and I was transferred to a boarding school in England. English people are very different from Americans; they see the Americans as inferior (partly because of their accent). I found this quite shocking, really. I went to Brambletye, a prep school in West Sussex.

    The English system is a bit different from the Thai one; here is a brief explanation: Pathom 1 is equal to English Year 2, and Anubarn 3 is Year 1. Years 1 and 2 are known as Pre-Prep. Years 3-8 (P. 2 to M. 1) are known as Prep. These years are spent at a Junior, or Prep, school. Then, it really gets confusing. Years 9-13, or Forms 3, 4, 5, 6a, 6b, (M. 2-6) are Senior school years. These years are spent at a Senior school (surprisingly). Forms 3-5 work on the GCSE (General Certificate for Secondary Education) syllabus (formerly O-Level) (also done in English Thai International Schools), and the two sixth forms work on the A-Level syllabus.

    So, after a hasty introduction, I was faced with a difficult choice: which senior school do I want to go to? I was in Year 8, and had one year to prepare before the entrance exams. I looked at two schools, King’s Canterbury, and Winchester College (http://www.winchestercollege.org). My dad wanted me to go to Winchester, and I thought that it wasn’t bad, and so I applied. But, there was a small problem. I wasn’t allowed to register, and I would have had to be put on a waiting list. My headmaster encouraged me to take music and academic scholarships, and I thought that that wasn’t a bad idea.

    I play the piano and violin (I had to take an exam before I took the scholarship, and I took Grade 7 on both instruments). The preparation was pretty frightening, but the scholarship went alright. I was delighted when the Winchester Master of Music informed me that I had received a scholarship, cutting my fees by 50%.

    The academic scholarship would gain me a place in the Scholar’s house at Winchester (there are 10 Boarding Houses, and 1 Scholar’s house). There were 60 candidates, and 18 scholarships and 3 exhibitions were given (scholarships = reduction of 50%, exhibition = 33%). Scholars would stay in College (House), and Exhibitioners would stay in a normal boarding house. I took the exams (3 days), and passed well enough to become a scholar.

    And so, this year, I have come back to Winchester for the second time. I have spent one successful and fun year there, and I am ready for more. I will try to give you an idea of what it’s like to be a scholar.

    I wake up around 8am, and get dressed. There are no strict guidelines for dress, although they must be reasonably formal (any colour shirt, tie, black shoes, etc.). The only piece of uniform I have is the gown. It is reserved specially for scholars—completely black (although some reflect a little blue), long, and waterproof; not unlike the ones that Harry Potter wears, but they have some differences.

    Breakfast is anywhere from 8am to 9am, and it’s quite informal. The first event of the day is Morning Chapel for the first two years, from 8:45 to 8:55. Then, I am off to two lessons, 40 minutes each, starting at 9, with a five-minute break in between. That puts me at 10:25, time for Morning Break. I go back to College, and sit in my own private workspace. We don’t have our own rooms in College; there are two types of very big rooms, known as Upstairs and Downstairs Chambers. The Upstairs Chambers are the dormitories, and the Downstairs ones are like common rooms. I have a resonable-sized workspace; there are about 14 or so to a Chamber. Other than workspaces, a Chamber has a small kitchen, lockers (for bigger, more valuable possessions), and a living-room type atmosphere consisting of a fireplace, couches, sofas, and a table.

    There are three more morning lessons. There are some compulsory lessons, such as Math(s), English, History, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Latin, and French. And, there some that we could choose, such as Greek/Spanish/German/Geography, Music/Art/Design Technology/Information Technology, and, in the first year, PE.
    Lunch is at 1:10, and then comes the afternoon. The afternoon is the most varied part of the day. First of all, there are two types of days, half ones, and full ones. In a half day, the entire afternoon is free. In a full day, during the winter terms, we have two hours of free time, and then three lessons. In the summer, we have three lessons, then two hours of free time (this is due to the fact that in England, in the winter, it gets dark very quickly, and so sports should be done early on. In the summer, the sun sets very late, and so there are ample opportunities for sports.).

    Tea (or dinner) is at around 6pm, and continues until 6:30. Then, we have a period of prep, from 7-7:45, 15-minute break, then 8-8:45. It is a chance to do all the day’s homework, and study other work. The first two years work in a classroom in College, under supervision. The last three years work in their workplaces. After all of this, we have Evening Chapel for fifteen minutes, and then, we are free until our bedtimes.

    I normally ‘hang around’ in a Downstairs Chamber when I’m not doing anything. There are usually many people there, and most of the other boys are very nice (by the way, Winchester is not co-ed). I have no trouble in getting along, and bullying is not a big problem.

    Really, I don’t have much chance to hang around, because I have many other commitments. Much of my free time is taken up by music. I have music lessons, three orchestra practices for three different orchestras per week, and a choir practice (we sing in chapel on Sundays). Apart from music, I also like to play some sports, including football (in the winter), and tennis (in the summer). So, all the free time slots are spent doing all of this, and the unavoidable music practice.
    I normally go home once a term, at the very end. So, I am in Bangkok for about a month, in December, April, and for two months in the summer, July and August. I really enjoy this lifestyle. I am getting to know both sides of the world much better than before—I am having fun re-learning Thai, and continuing my studies in England.

    I still think of Thailand. I haven’t forgotten it completely; after all, I am Thai, and I will probably come back to work here. I would like to help the country. I feel that there is much to be done, that can be done, to improve the country. Please feel free to email me; my address Is just below.

    Nadanai, (Ae), September 28, 2002
    School email: n_laohakunakorn@wincoll.ac.uk

  2. #2
    delawang Guest
    Ae, you sure have seen a lot. So many countries, so many types of education. There are only about six high schools in the US that follow the English traditions, and they are very expensive; round 30,000 USD per year. They also have a smaller drawing power than schools in the UK because not so many Americans are interested in first class education. American’s companies seem more intereted in work experience. I think you picked the right country to get a good education.

    Congratulations on making the scholars' house too! You must have really worked hard.

    I don’t know if you will ever have a chance to do this, but I would be interested in hearing your opinions about how the Greek and Roman classics compare to Thai, Sanskrit and Pali classics. The Ramayana and the Illiad are both intricate, detailed poems about heroic behavior, but are so different. What do you think are the differences and what are the similarities between Thai thinking and Western thinking?

    Please don’t think about this if it will take you away from your schoolwork!

  3. #3
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    Just a trivia... sometime ago an indo-french drama company performed in my city mixing up western classic (I do not know which. With odyessus as hero) and Indian classic and performed it in 11 different languages with a multi-national characters from different countries ... each retaining their ethnic style while performing. It was fantastic.
    Never hit someone below the belt; for you are not the creator.

  4. #4
    delawang Guest
    T-gram, that sounds like the illiad. Long voyage, many trials and tribulations, come home to find unwanted visitors hoping for o.'s dearh.

    Do u know, is the Thai ramayana different from the original Indian one?

  5. #5
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    I have to check the overall verdict on this. The overall story is probably the same, but with many facts which are different. I just got to read that in Thai Ramayan, Ram's wife -Sita - is Ravana's (the person Lord Ram fights)daughter while in the most accepted version in India she pysically took birth from the Mother Earth (and also returned to it). In India itself, there are mny versions of Ramayan and its possible that the Thai Ramayan is one of them and not the currently popular version. Up in North India everyone burns the effigy of Ravana considering he is a bad force. But down South some people read a different version where they actually pay respect to Ravana!

    Some more trivia:
    You know Hinduism is an all-encompasser of thoughts and philosophies and 'billion' streams of varying faiths running within it and so many versions - each one interesting to read and know of. It is a good trait and at times not so good. Buddhism would have encompassed entire India during the rein of King Ashoka. But our religious heads declared Lord Buddha the re-incarnation of Lord Vishnu (A supreme God - The sustainer) and so they solved the issue of the strong grip that Buddhism was taking on in India then! Now Lord Buddha is part of the various re-incaarnation of our Gods, but Buddhism as a religion lost its massive movement in the country it began! Luckily, because of King Ashoka's initial efforts, Buddhism had already spread far and wide to other countries. (It continues in India too, but nowhere at the level it could be) Frankly, if Christianity came to India during those days, we would have made Jesus a re-incarnation too!! (I hope no one crucifies me for this information! I love all - if that helps. My country, my religions, Buddhism and Jesus )
    Never hit someone below the belt; for you are not the creator.

  6. #6
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    happy

    Wow! Such an expertise! Don't worry I have no idea what I am talking about.

  7. #7
    bunnyondamoon Guest
    Your school is kind of different. It sounds fun to read about your life style.

    I am also an academic scholar of my school but here scholars do not automatically have gown. You can wear gown only when you are school prefect here

    By the way good luck with your GCSEs

  8. #8
    januspentium Guest
    Hello!

    I read your story and found it very interesting. Your school sounds like Prep-Schools in the USA; Andover, Exeter, Cranbrook,etc....

    Well, English people don't like Americans because they think that Americans are inferior? In my opinions I think that English people envy Americans. You have to understand that America is the most powerful country in the world. This is 21st century not the Elizabethan Era!! English people think that American accent is inferior? Boy, don't they realize that a high class English accent is very much similar to an American accent?

    It's been nice reading your article. I'm looking forward to read more of your stories.

  9. #9
    nadanai_l Guest

    talking

    Hi everyone,
    I'm actually logged in now, and my new sn is 'nadanai_l'. Well, that was very interesting--I didn't expect so many views/replies/etc. It's amazing how fast things get around. Basically, I was trying to get my story reposted on the Thai Students Abroad section, (it was there a while ago, but somehow it got deleted), and I'm trying to contact Gor to get him to sort it out.
    Well, on the topic of Thai, Pali, and Sanskrit classics, I'm not that experienced.... I really haven't studied them in much detail at all (although I do know the stories), and I would like to get a chance to do so in the future.
    I've got through my GCSEs at last (I did three subjects this term, Maths, Latin, and French). Now, I have many more internal school exams, which will decide on my sets for next year. They are probably more frightening than GCSEs!
    About the accents: according to a few of my history teachers, the American accent is an 'older' version of the common English language used at around the time when the US was settled. Since then, English had changed and evolved, while the American English stayed pretty much the same. I'm not sure how true this is, but it's definitely quite interesting. Yes, English people do envy Americans, I'm sure, and it's the same with my friends--however, I don't really mind it any more (I used to get quite annoyed).
    Anyway, I'm going to go off and do some work for my exams tomorrow. It's been nice reading your replies!
    Ae

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