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Nov 08 2017
by Variya Tongtip

My Experience Living Abroad During One of Thailand's Most Important Moments

By Variya Tongtip - Nov 08 2017

I was told that as a college student, homesickness would eventually kick in about a month after settling in. I was fortunate enough to make it through the first month without feeling anything, as I am close to my mom and we talk every day. In fact, everything was going fine. I even went back home to Thailand for a week during October break, but then the homesickness hit me after I came back to London. 

The 26th of October, 2017, was the Royal Ceremony of the His Late Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej Rama 9. The King was also commonly known as The Royal Father, or really, our father. He was the father figure to all Thai people and was beloved by all. His death date was actually October 13th. That night as I sat on the floor in front of the TV with my mom, time stood still. We saw people crying in front of the hospital just as we were crying in front of the TV. Photos of the king flooded social media, black clothing was brought out of the closet and the bright coloured ones were put back. The one year mourning period has officially begun, but it didn't feel right. 

This was the time where the best of Thai people really came out, giving out free food, free transportation, free clothing to anyone in need. After all, we are going through the same sadness, and we all want to be there for each other. My school created a whole exhibition for the people, where the international community could learn more about the King; about how he would always carry his camera and pencil everywhere he went, how that pencil would be used until his hands could not physically write with them, because he believed that we should make use of the resources that we already have. He believed that people should not  be materialistic because it's simply not good for the mind. 

During the break, I had a chance to go home and explore more of my favourite city in the world, Bangkok. I saw the Grand Palace and how majestic it was, especially at night. I went to Siam Paragon, one of the popular destinations in Thailand, and stood in silence with the rest of my people, mourning for our father. Most importantly, I saw the kindness of the people who were so willing to help each other out. 

Back at windy London, I never felt so alone. I constantly ordered Thai food on delivery, reached out to my Thai friends so I could be with them, speak to them. I just wanted to be home for the royal ceremony. But luckily, I had the chance to go to the Thai Temple in Wimbledon. I didn't expect to see so many people in one place, dressed for the Royal Funeral. 

I understand if some people can't understand why us Thai people would mourn so much for the king. After all, if you have never lived in Thailand, then you couldn't really understand. He was our king, yes, but he was a father first. Never once did he stop working for his people, and we are grateful to have had him. I am also sorry to the people who read this and don't understand my feelings, but this piece is my love for my country pouring out into one article. 

It has been a great pleasure to have lived under your reign, Father. You will always be in our hearts. 

Lead Image Credit: Unsplash 

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Variya Tongtip - Skidmore College

Variya Tongtip is a freshman at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, but is currently abroad in London! Follow her on Instagram: @variyatongtip

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