In the spring of 2016 I took a leave of absence from St. Lawrence. I spent this time traveling through South America and working on a few farms. This excursion put me one semester behind my peers at St. Lawrence and while I was lucky enough to walk with my friends and classmates last May, I was also preparing for quite the adventure.
I spent my final semester as a Saint abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand. During my time there I was able to travel around the surrounding countries and even through northern India thanks to the help of the Freeman Asian Endowment Fund. Throughout the semester I wrote about these intercultural, historical, and eye-opening experiences on a blog hosted by St. Lawrence, which you can read here: blogs.stlawu.edu/lighthousethailand.As an Environmental Studies and Philosophy combined major, my travels complimented my studies extremely well. I have studied mankind’s relationship with nature through physical, scientific, and philosophical lenses over the past four years. Being able to live in a country that holds the environment in such high regard through Buddhist principles and philosophy took these previous classroom experiences into the real world. Not only did my time in the classroom help prepare me for the countless cultural obstacles I would come across during my time abroad, but they also led to a growing curiosity for everything around me. I learned about the Thai national park system, explored trail systems, and talked to countless Thai friends about their lives and how they see themselves in this world. It was an exceptional academic finale.
My time as a runner on both Cross Country and Track & Field teams at St. Lawrence came to a close last May, but like most collegiate runners, you just keep on running. The thought of running my first marathon, in Thailand, was enticing – so much so that I signed up, trained (as much as I could), and then ran my way to a third-place finish at the Muang Thai Chiang Mai Marathon on December 24th with a time of 2 hours 42 minutes and 47 seconds. It was a phenomenal experience as a seasoned runner and as a traveler. Luckily, I was no longer under NCAA regulations while competing in Thailand and gratefully accepted the third-place prize and used these new funds to finance a trip to Vietnam. I had the opportunity to teach English in a small city called Nghĩa Lộ while there. Straying away from the usual tourist destinations, my little life in Vietnam was a calm and peaceful end to these months in Asia. I lived there for one month before heading back stateside; a graduate of St. Lawrence University.