Dear future intern,

It has been around a month since I have returned from Asia and I am still processing the experience. It is challenging to compile all the lessons I have learned and the memories I have made for my personal reflections, let alone condense it into a 30 second summary to answer the many “how was Thailand” questions.

The experience was everything.

It was scary. It was exhilarating. It was lonely at times. It was filled with the most interesting and incredible people. It was frustrating. It widened my perspective. It was filled with such incredible adventures. It taught me to trust myself. It was by far the best thing I have ever done.

I had such incredible experiences and adventures. I met the kindest, most adventurous people both from the local areas I was in or visiting, as well as from all around the world. I also learned so much about the various countries that all my friends were from, and so much about migrant rights, anti-trafficking initiatives and even a little bit of Thai. However, the best thing about the experience was the amount I learned about myself and how much I believe I grew as an individual. A couple weeks ago my aunt was asking me about the past 7 months and after hearing my stories she asked, “so am I speaking to a new Alanya?”

That question made me pause and I thought about it a lot that evening. My time living in Thailand put me in a situation where I had to completely recreate a life from scratch. No one knew anything about me and I had no clue where to start building a life. I learned to put myself out there, truly accept myself and build confidence. I worked to overcome the several challenges that arise from moving across the world completely alone and to create a space for myself in my environment.

So, what I am trying to say is this:

Dear future intern, go into this experience with no expectations. Be open to what the experience brings to you and try to truly have an open mind to all that you encounter. There is so much beauty and growth in the challenges that will inevitably arise and there are so many incredible adventures to be had and people to meet. The 7 months I spent in Asia were amazing and I will always be grateful for the opportunity. Regardless of how much your experience differs from my own, I can guarantee that you will return home having grown tremendously and with dozens of stories. So trust yourself. You are going to have an unforgettable time.


Chatuchak weekend market in Bangkok.

Loy Krathong festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The ceiling of one of my favourite temples near my house.