Things I Have Learned So Far During My Exchange Year

First, I’d like to briefly introduce myself.
My name is Chayin Tengkanokkul. People call me Ten because it’s easier. I am a seventeen year old AFS student from Thailand. Right now I’m living in Vysoké Mýto, a small town in the Pardubice region, surrounded by a pleasant environment and lovely people.

Fig.1: The town square of Vysoké Mýto.

My exchange life has just reached the halfway mark recently, and I’ve been wondering about the experience in the past five months and how it affected me. I realized that a lot of aspects have changed in a better way and I’d like to share this with you.

Fig.2: My youngest sibling, Mahulena, having a small trouble.

I wanted to start off with this because this is the most relatable for me (and the fastest thing I’ve learned). I belong to a host family of four children: Ronja(16), Vojtěch(8), Bořivoj(5) and Mahulena(3). Before I came here, I’ve usually had problems with children and loud noises. Having lots of younger siblings, it’s inevitable that there would be noises at most of the time. I felt a little uncomfortable at first. It wasn’t until the second week that I could listen to a crying sound without the urge to cringe. My host siblings are actually nice and playful. They are just kids after all! Nowadays, I know it’s time to wake up & go to school from the sounds my siblings make, no alarm clock needed!

Fig.3: The train from my city to Choceň
Fig.4: Attending Gym Jam, one of the best activities in school.

Thais are known for their “Sabai-Sabai” personality (also known as “chill”). We don’t really prioritize the matter of time. This is why there are no timetables for public transports (e.g. buses, underground trains, sky-trains, etc.). It is surprising for me that there are schedules for autobuses even in small towns. I learned this the hard way back then when I had to sprint in the snow to catch the train in three minutes. Luckily, the train came just on time I reached the station and I learned that the matter of time is very important.
We Thais are also known for the “Kreng-jai” character. That means we prefer to stay quiet and get what we don’t want than actually saying something. I attend the Gymnázium in Mýto and I noticed a lot of differences between schools here in the ČR and in Thailand. One of them is how students here are not afraid to raise their hands and show their opinions, while back in Thailand; students tend to look down to their notebooks and write what the teachers say. Especially in English class, where every student is encouraged to speak. I learned that it is okay to express opinions in an appropriate manner (despite the fact that I’m still the shy Asian boy of the class, I’m working on it!).

Fig.5: Skiing at Černá Horá.


I am a very lazy person. But since I came here, I tried to participate in as much activities as I can, knowing that I might never have the chance to do them again. Despite its small area, the ČR has tons of events to join. I bought myself a suit and tie for Taneční (dance lessons), embarrassed myself playing floorball and almost broke my arm from skiing. All these activities don’t exist in Thailand. Attending them also gives me a chance to meet new people, expanding my friendship tree. I still remain as a lazy human being though. I would regret breaking my arm, but I would regret even more if I didn’t almost break it!

Fig.6: Me & my classmates after Akademie, my school’s talent show.


I have met tons of awesome people in the last five months. Czech people are known to be cold and scary, but that is just one side of the story. They are actually nice people and are willing to help me anytime. It blew my mind that I could learn loads of new stuff just by talking to them. I got to know their personalities, their opinions and most importantly, their attitudes. And while exploring new minds, I also learned to appreciate what I have. It wasn’t until my worst days that I realized my Asian-ness has been affecting my entire life unconsciously. It is a part of my life after all. Now I’m learning to adapt what I’ve learned into what I’ve already had to become a better person.

Being an exchange student to me is a matter of giving as much as taking. I’m looking forward to learning more things in the remaining time I have!

Ten, Thajsko, student 2015/16