Anna Thompson
Anna Thompson
Thailand 2023 - 2024
Sawadee ka! My name is Anna, and I am traveling to Bangkok, Thailand where I will serve as a Volunteer Legal Advocate at Asylum Access Thailand (AAT). AAT provides comprehensive support and legal services to refugees. At AAT, I will conduct client intake and research.

Sena Nikhom neighborhood cat lady (aka me)

I’ve had a pretty calm last couple of weeks, which has been nice and much needed. I was feeling a bit burnt out from being so busy and not having much time to myself. Even though I love my social time, I am introverted, so I need time alone to recharge.

The day after I got back from South Korea, I went to the immigration office with a few coworkers to get my visa extension, which I will need to do every 3 months. I woke up early that day and arrived at the immigration office around 8am. However, I think next time we’ll arrive even earlier or go on an off-peak day (not a Monday or Friday) because the waiting time lasted all day. We actually saw an old coworker at immigration who is now working with another organization here in Bangkok. It was really great to see her, especially because she provided a lot of guidance when I first started at AAT. I shadowed a lot of her sessions and asked her questions about client interaction.

I spent last weekend settling back into a routine and getting caught up on some personal things / scheduling appointments. I’d been wanting to spend some time to myself reading, writing, walking, etc. I also got my first Thai massage here at a spa that a coworker recommended.

When I was walking the other day, I stopped by a spirit house by my apartment when a little kitten came up to me and started meowing at me nonstop. The kitten seemed hungry for food and affection, so I went back to my apartment and got some of Steven’s food to give the kitten. When I opened up the bag of food, at least four other cats showed up. I think I’m becoming a neighborhood cat lady now because I’ve been back to visit this kitten almost every night.

Work updates:

Unfortunately, AAT lost funding for our long-term legal solutions program. This internal policy change means that for the time being, we cannot provide any services on options to move to a third country, including resettlement. It’s definitely very difficult and disheartening to help people with the RSD process with UNHCR, but then to not be able to provide them with information about LTLS, especially because that is the end goal. The client staying in Thailand is not necessarily a viable pathway, since there is no legal framework through which refugees can be resettled here.

In the month of September, I conducted about four or so legal clinics about options for moving to a third country. Throughout August and September, I hosted many legal clinics in order to try and provide this information to as many clients as possible before the LTLS program ends. There are many pre and post steps for the LTLS clinics, including calling clients to invite them, updating the participant/attendance lists, and reimbursing clients for their internet fees after the clinics. This was a bit hectic at times because legal clinics would sometimes be scheduled last-minute, but we wanted to be able to answer any questions that clients had about LTLS while we still are able to do so.

The other day, there was a client who came in for a screening with a member of the RSD team. This screening is to determine to what extent we can assist the client and to assess her refugee claim. The client ended up bringing her four-year-old daughter to the appointment, so the team took turns watching the child. I used to babysit and nanny a lot in the US, and I do actually really miss being around kids, so I was really glad to help with this.

AAT babysitters xD

Grab bike otw to work

Weekend updates:

On Saturday, I went to September’s monthly refugee dinner, hosted by Click Aroi, which is one of several refugee-led community empowerment activities facilitated by the Community Engagement team at AAT. Click Aroi (‘aroi’ means delicious in Thai) enhances refugees’ skills in traditional cooking, provides training on business skills and entrepreneurship, and creates channels for them to tell their stories through food. Click Aroi currently collaborates with two local organizations, Na Projects and theCommons Thonglor. Besides hosting a monthly refugee dinner at theCommons Thonglor, Click Aroi also runs a food catering platform that allows for regular orders. The dinner was really amazing, and it was great to see up-close more of what the other teams at AAT do. It was also my first time trying Ethiopian food!

the menu – sambusas, chicken/beef stew, sweet bread, etc

Then, on Sunday, I went to a book swap. Since I haven’t found a free public library here and it’s expensive to keep buying new books, I’m so glad that my friend told me about this monthly book swap. It’s great to have this community of girls, as they share various literature events going on in the city.

mu kratha (Thai style bbq) with my friend

made it to the last day of this walking street fair!

My week in Korea

My old coworker friend from NYC had a trip planned to Seoul, Korea and was kind enough to let me join her for a week! She lived in Korea before and speaks Korean, so she was really helpful in making the itinerary, showing me around, and navigating the city. She’s coming to Chiang Mai and Bangkok at the end of November, so I promised to return the favor then by showing her my favorite spots in Bangkok.

Some highlights broken down by day:

Day 1 – perfume making class; light show at Han River

Day 2 – Alpaca World and Nami Island

Day 3 – color consultation; shopping at Goto Mall

Day 4 – exploring Insadong

Day 5 – hanbok rental and photoshoot; exploring Hanok Village

Day 6 – Coex Mall; Seoul Forest Park; Dongdaemun Design Plaza; watching buskers in Hongdae

Day 7 – Sokcho beach

My friend took me to a bunch of different neighborhoods throughout Seoul, including Myeongdong, Hongdae, Apgujeong, Insadong (lots of cute/trendy cafes and shopping), Hanok Village, Sinchon, Namsan, etc.

Color consultations and color theory is pretty big in Korea, and has gained popularity outside of Korea as well. Before doing the consult, I had a feeling that I’d be a light spring... turns out, my main palette is indeed light spring and my sub palette is mute autumn. My worst palette is deep & dark winter (I don’t know if I’m ready to get rid of all my black clothes just yet :/). It was pretty fascinating how quickly they were able to decide my colors, by holding fabric swatches up to my face and flipping through them. At the end, they gave me a packet highlighting which makeup, outfits, hair colors, accessories, and nail colors suit me. Even though I still love my neutrals, I may try to incorporate more light colors and pastels into my wardrobe, like pinks, blues, etc.

My friend and I also did all-day hanbok rental and photoshoot. The hanboks were really intricate, and we also got free admission to Gyeongbokgung Palace since we were wearing them. I loved seeing all the different hanbok colors and patterns that people were wearing. However, it was pretty hot to be totally covered up in hanboks, so we lasted a few hours and then decided to return them and walk around Hanok Village, etc.

It was nice to take a few day trips and explore outside of Seoul as well. At Nami Island, I liked seeing the wild bunnies everywhere, which were actually really comfortable with people. They let us get so close to them! I also enjoyed the Gangchon rail bike; I’d never done it before, but the scenery and views were incredible.

The last day before my flight, we went to Sokcho beach, and this might’ve been my favorite day in Korea. I wish we could’ve had more time in Sokcho. We were only able to reserve the bus tickets in person since we don’t have Korean credit cards, so ended up reserving them last-minute. Luckily, we got the last two spots going to Sokcho in the morning and were able to depart later that night. Sokcho is such a charming beach town with great food. It was beautiful to be surrounded by the beach on one side and mountains on the other.

Korea has been on my bucket list for a while, and I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to go. It’s really amazing to be able to explore throughout Asia while I am here, especially because it’s much more affordable to do so while I’m already in Asia, as opposed to traveling there from the US.

Now, it’s back to work for me!

rail bike

Nami Island

getting my fortune

hanbok rental

near Namsan

Cafe Pokpo – waterfall cafe. Side note: I totally get cafe culture / cafe hopping now


results from my color consult

pics of Steven from his pet sitter – thank you for taking such good care of him!

Temples and rainy days (August 25, 2023)

AAT/work updates:

AAT staff members went to a training provided by Bangkok Refugee Center (BRC) about initial psychosocial support to asylum seekers and refugees. The day was broken down into several sessions, including:

  • initial psychological symptoms, warning signs and screening tools
  • effective communication skills and counseling techniques
  • practicing counseling skills and techniques
  • initial psychosocial support when working with traumatized individuals
  • self-care
  • referral resources

Migrants and refugees face various stressors which can take place at various stages of the migration process: (1) pre-migration; (2) migration travel and transit; (3) post-migration; and (4) integration and settlement. It was particularly useful to learn more about trauma-informed care for clients and also self-care for humanitarian workers. Professionals in the human rights field are particularly susceptible to vicarious (secondary) trauma, which is a form of trauma that’s experienced indirectly by hearing details or witnessing the aftermath of a traumatic experience by another person. Essentially, it’s a process of change resulting from empathetic engagement with trauma survivors. BRC taught us about the following types of self-care: social, physical, mental, practical, emotional, and spiritual.

While the training was helpful, I think it’s also important to remember that legal advisors are *NOT counselors, and their roles are different. While it’s necessary to know how to practice trauma-informed care, clients also need to be referred to the right counseling resources. The following are some of the ways that I practice trauma-informed care when working with AAT clients:

  • being transparent with clients about the legal process, my role, others’ roles in the process, and what can happen
  • explaining the nature of a meeting or interview and letting them know what I am doing
  • checking in with clients and giving them the chance to express any concerns/questions
  • verbally validating any feelings they express to me; the importance of active listening
  • being careful with my wording in order to prevent re-traumatization
  • being aware of the client’s body language

training provided by BRC

Throughout the month of August, I conducted around 6 legal clinics for Urdu, Somali, and Burmese-speaking communities. All provided information about long-term legal solutions: resettlement, family reunification, humanitarian visa, and available private sponsorship programs in Canada, Australia, and the US. The information sessions for Burmese clients also focused specifically on the status of Myanmar refugees in Thailand, updates and other information from UNHCR, and the information of service providers here in Thailand for medical assistance, financial support, etc.

Personal/life updates:

Even though work has been really busy, I’ve been having so much fun exploring Bangkok when I have the time. Over the past couple weeks, I’ve gone bike riding in Chatuchak Park, shopping at Chatuchak Market (on a cool night, phew), and went to the dragon temple (Wat Samphran)!

Chatuchak weekend market

Wat Samphran is located in Amphoe Sam Phran in Nakhon Pathom Province. It is about an hour from Bangkok city center. Although there’s much to see in the area, the highlight is the pink building with a large dragon that envelops it. The structure is 80m in height in total, corresponding to the Buddha’s final age. The 17 floors signify heavenly Brahma’s realms that one reaches in the afterlife, based on monastic achievement and karma accumulation. The dragon that surrounds the building from bottom to the top symbolizes a human’s journey from suffering to happiness, symbolically circling the hell and the heavens.

It was actually pretty quick to climb up to the top of the building, maybe around 5 minutes or so. The view from the top was beautiful. Once we reached there, my friends and I each made a wish, then walked around the circular rooftop three times before touching the dragon’s beard and then making a donation. One of my friends was actually coming back to Wat Samphran to pay her respects because her previous wish had been granted – she got a visa to come to the US! I definitely consider myself a spiritual person, and I felt surrounded by lots of spiritual energy this day.

cafe near Wat Samphran

amazing friend and neighbor, Oriahnna!

Wat Samphran

I was a bit sick for the past week or so, but am finally feeling better! I think my body just really needed to rest.

Also, I’m so excited because I’m headed to Korea next week! I will be there for about a week and will meet up with my ex-work wifey from NYC. I can’t wait to see her and explore Korea.

a typical Bangkok day haha – got drenched on the bike ride home from work. But thank you to the sweet Grab driver who lent me a rain jacket 🙂

Work updates and beach day! (August 11, 2023)

One of the hard parts about working with a nonprofit or NGO:

It can be difficult because AAT only has so much capacity, therefore must explicitly define the scope of services provided. For example, when it comes to LTLS, AAT cannot find sponsors for clients, review emails to sponsors, and review or fill out application forms or translate documents. However, AAT is able to answer questions clients have about the process or application forms and give them advice on how to prepare for an interview for visa application.
Everyone at AAT is so passionate about the work, but in order to function most effectively, AAT has to screen and assist clients with the types of legal issues that are in our priorities. Therefore, when talking to a client to see if we can help them with a reopening matter, we must first see if they meet the qualifications defined by the UNHCR for reopening. If the situation does not meet the requirements, then AAT would be unable to assist. This is hard because the client is still facing difficulties in their lives here in Bangkok or in their home countries, but AAT wouldn’t be able to provide the service requested. I faced this same issue when I was previously working with a nonprofit law firm in Nashville. Even though you want to help, it is not always possible to help each client with the exact service they are asking for. However, I’m sure clients feel at such a loss and so distressed when they are reaching out for help, but being told they cannot receive it. In this way, I try to emphasize to clients the reasoning why we are sometimes unable to proceed with their cases.

Also, there is so much bureaucracy involved with this type of work. The RSD or LTLS processes are lengthy and complicated. The systems in place are often not the most effective. Additionally, NGOs and nonprofits are notoriously underfunded. They are not able to run as smoothly as many large corporations because they lack the resources and manpower to do so. My colleague who recently returned to the US (miss you!) stated that she sees the refugee crisis as a symptom of a larger issue, and I couldn’t agree more.

My first on-call day(s):

Tuesdays at AAT are known as on-call days, during which we have scheduled appointments to speak to clients about issues such as reopening, following up with the UNHCR, etc. I’ve started handling all the calls myself on some of these days, and those are always long days. It’s a lot to fit into one day because preparation (including reading the clients’ RIPS history) and follow-up can take around 30 minutes, while the actual call itself typically takes 30 minutes or sometimes even longer.

I’ve gotten much more comfortable with client calls and working with an interpreter. My supervisors have been great and always answer any questions I have that come up during client calls. When working with an interpreter, I have to keep reminding myself to speak in short sentences and not to use colloquialisms. Instead, it’s best to keep sentences short and simple.

Although the RSD team is hoping to accept more VLAs, we are currently quite backlogged and working with limited capacity. We have a goal to get rid of the backlog and conduct a certain number of screenings within the next month, therefore I am working my way up to being able to handle client screenings. These are lengthy and can take hours at a time.

my sweet, sweet colleagues

Some snapshots and moments from the past couple weeks:

yummy Thai-style hot pot with neighbors

rainy BKK days

joined a pickleball group!

Recent highlight – my first time going to the beach in Thailand!

During an office wellness day, I went to Koh Larn with a few coworkers. This is an island off the coast of Pattaya. We woke up really early and caught the 6:30am bus so we could make the most of our day. The bus took around 2.5 hours, then we took a tuk-tuk to the ferry. From there, the boat ride to the island lasted around 30 minutes or so. The island was so breathtaking and beautiful, and it’s surrounded by mountains! We really didn’t waste a second of the day haha. We rented Thai motorbikes, with three colleagues driving and three riding on the back of the bikes. We drove all around the island and saw amazing views. We also booked a banana boat, but the driver didn’t manage to flip us over haha. To end the day, we went to a coffee shop overlooking the water. It was such a great day, and I can’t wait to explore more Thai islands!

on the tuk-tuk

Busy exploring (July 28, 2023)

It’s been an exciting past couple weeks exploring! I’ve had a few days off work due to public holidays and office wellness days, which are on the first Friday of every month. I think it’s really essential and beneficial to have wellness days, especially when doing humanitarian work.

The Artist’s House:

Recently, I went to the Artist’s House, otherwise known as Baan Silapin and Klong Bang Luang. The house is over 200 years old and sits right along the khlong (canal); it’s a place where people gather to enjoy drinks, food, and the community. It’s tucked away behind a few winding streets in Thonburi, Bangkok’s old capital.

There’s so much to see in the area surrounding the Artist’s House, including restaurants, shops with art and trinkets, a temple, etc. At the Artist’s House, there are portraits, paintings, and drawings decorating the main seating area. Wooden doors also open up to additional seating along the river. There’s several arts and crafts options you can choose from at the Artist’s House, like jewelry making, paint, and pottery. My friend and I decided to make bracelets, and it was so much fun! I haven’t made jewelry in so long. It was a really relaxing atmosphere. We went later in the day, but I could’ve easily spent all day there. It was a nice escape from the busyness and chaos of the center of Bangkok. It was also great to be surrounded by the water because it can be hard to find nature and greenery within the heart of Bangkok unless you go out of your way to find it. I definitely want to go back to the Artist’s House and bring any friends with me who come visit! I think it might be one of my new favorite spots in Bangkok.

There were so many cute art products to purchase, from jewelry to postcards to paintings to books. I finally bought my first elephant souvenir here! I found a tiny stuffed elephant with cats printed on it and knew it was the one. It’ll be a nice keepsake for me to have and remember my time in Bangkok by.

Wat Kai and Ayutthaya:

Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Ayutthaya, was built in 1350 as the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom. The city was attacked and burned to the ground by the Burmese army in 1767. When the capital of the restored kingdom moved and a new city was built at Bangkok, there was an effort to recreate the architectural form of Ayutthaya.

It was amazing to see what’s still intact of Ayutthaya and how it’s maintained, particularly with new plants and greenery growing on the towers.

After seeing Ayutthaya, we headed to Wat Kai, which was quite unexpected. Wat Kai is an ancient temple during the Ayutthaya Kingdom, which was also abandoned after the fall of Ayutthaya. In 1992, a group of monks founded a priest house there, and in 1997, the temple was named Wat Kai (chicken temple). There are many friendly wild monkeys at this temple, however it’s uncertain when they started to live here. Wat Kai itself is pretty gruesome, as it depicts a Buddhist version of hell. There are statues of people having their tongues removed, being stabbed with needles, etc. I’m still a bit unsure as to why the hell temple was built… perhaps as a warning not to perform immoral actions? There are five offenses in Buddhism which deliver the offender into naraka (hell): patricide, matricide, killing an arhat (saint), injuring the body of a buddha, and causing a division in the Buddhist community. Additionally, there are ten evil acts in Buddhism: three physical acts of killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct; the four verbal evils of lying, irresponsible speech, defamation, and duplicity; and the mental evils of greed, anger, and holding of mistaken views. This temple actually reminded me a lot of some images that I saw in an art exhibit at Asia Society Museum back in NYC called Comparative Hell: Arts of Asian Underworlds. This exhibit in particular explored ideas about judgment, punishment, and salvation after death. Exhibition artworks portrayed religious threats of fiery torture as a means to shape values and beliefs, instill virtuous behavior, and to encourage atonement for sins.

This was certainly an interesting and macabre temple to see … but, I was especially excited to see the wild monkeys. I’d never seen monkeys out and about like this before, and it was pretty incredible. It was so entertaining to watch the monkeys, and there were even little baby monkeys tottering around.

More about AAT Services and Status of Refugees in Thailand (July 14, 2023)

Last Sunday, I went to a legal clinic on LTLS with the Pakistani-Ahmadiyya community. There were about 18 or so participants registered for the clinic. There was a community paralegal and interpreter present, in addition to the AAT legal advisor leading the clinic. The components of the clinic included: welcome and greet, introduction, ice-breaking game, pre-test, topic’s presentation, Q&A, and post-test to see how much participants learned from the session. The majority of the presentation highlighted options for moving to a third country, like Australia or Canada. For such legal clinics and workshops, AAT is limited in the information they are able to provide.

More info about services provided by the RSD team:
AAT’s RSD team provides clients with legal advice and representation at first instance (“FI”), appeal, and reopening, both at our office as well as to clients detained in Immigration Detention Centre (“IDC”). For all clients, the team provides legal advice, including counseling on the RSD procedures and RSD interview prep. For clients who request for legal representation, we will screen them and decide how to proceed in accordance with our Intervention Criteria. If we are unable to fully represent clients, we still provide legal advice and self-help to clients on how they can file their own RSD claim.

After a client has informed reception that they would like assistance with the RSD process and once reception makes a referral to the RSD team, then the RSD team lead assigns a Legal Advocate (“LA” aka me) to screen the client. From here, LA duties include scheduling the client for screening and sending recommendations to the supervisor on whether to represent the client. The supervisor will review the screening and make a decision. From there, if it’s full representation/short service, my role is to start preparing submissions for the client under the supervision of the RSD team lead. If it’s advice only, then I will book the client for self-help and advice.

Note on UNHCR decision (if recognized):
If an applicant is recognized as a refugee by UNHCR, they will have their UNHCR card extended, and they will be able to access increased services at BRC. This does not offer increased protection under Thai law – if they do not have a valid visa, the applicant is still considered an “illegal” overstayer.

Differentiation between urban and camp refugees:
Refugees in Thailand are divided into two groups — camp-based and urban — with the former classification given only to people who left Myanmar. The UNHCR is responsible only for determining the statuses of urban refugees. Camp-based refugees are processed through a Thai government–led procedure and cannot move outside designated areas. No national legal framework exists for the protection of urban refugees, and as mentioned above, the UNHCR status designations are not formally recognized by the Thai government. The process of being resettled in a third country can take years. Additionally, resettlement is a durable solution that is available to less than 1% of recognized refugees.

AAT legal screening exists because AAT is currently one of only two legal service providers to urban refugees in Thailand. Legal screening is necessary as AAT is unable to provide services to all UNHCR registered Persons of Concern (POCs). Screening enables two things: which services a client can access and the level of input we can provide.

Thailand is home to around 4,300 refugees and 850 asylum seekers (2019).

Note on LTLS:
Some LTLS options include resettlement, private sponsorship, humanitarian visa, family reunification, and voluntary repatriation.

another pretty BKK night view!

spirit house (also called San Phra Phum in Thai) in my neighborhood! San means shrine and Phra Phum means Spirit, God, or Angel. Thais believe that protector spirits live in these little houses, so they build them in front of their homes or businesses.

First official week of work – lots of firsts (June 30, 2023)

I’ve officially had my first week of work, and I also had a friend come visit me last weekend – it’s been an eventful week!

Last week, I met with a courier from AAT who helped me run errands such as setting up a Thai bank account, getting a phone plan with a Thai carrier, and finalizing my work permit documentation. It was really helpful to have her accompany me because she was able to communicate in Thai about which type of account to set up, which phone plan might be best, etc. I’m also going to be getting a separate phone through AAT which will be used to make client calls.

I’m still getting my bearings and exploring different things in Bangkok. Although I haven’t taken the MRT (subway) yet because there isn’t an MRT station near my apartment, I did take the BTS Sky Train for the first time last week. It was really easy to navigate as a foreigner. First, I went to the station near my apartment, then I selected the right route using BKK Rail and Google Maps. Once, I’d figured out which stop I was getting off at, I entered the destination and paid around 50 baht in coins. Then, I took the card and scanned it to get through. I was amazed at how quiet the Sky Train is – both the train itself and the people inside. It’s definitely way calmer (and cleaner) than NYC subways.

So far, I’ve found that Grab bikes are a quick and easy way to get to locations that aren’t too far away, like work, for example. However, when destinations are further away, the Sky Train is typically a more affordable option.

I’m still getting used to the heat in BKK. I bought some tank tops and shorts because I didn’t bring a ton of clothes with me, and lightweight, cool summer clothes are definitely what I need. It’s amazing how so many people here will be wearing pants and a long sleeved shirt and not even be sweating. I feel like I’m sweating buckets and need a shower every time I leave the apartment haha. Also – sunscreen is key here!

Steven updates:

Steven and I on the flight

Steven being cute in the new apt 😉

Last weekend:

  • When my friend came in town, it was the perfect opportunity to see some of the top sights in Bangkok. We managed to pack a lot into one weekend, including going to Chatuchak Market, Lumpini Park, Chinatown, Khaosan Road, several temples, and a river cruise. We spent several hours at both Wat Pho and the Grand Palace; they are incredible. We also saw Wat Arun from a distance.

at the Grand Palace

Lumpini Park

amazing BKK night views

Thailand soon! (May 31, 2023)

Sawadee ka! I will officially be moving to Bangkok, Thailand in just a few short weeks. I am feeling all sorts of emotions regarding the big move and have also been really busy with last-minute travel preparations, spending time with loved ones, etc. Anyone close to me knows that I’ve always felt a strong desire to spend a significant amount of time in Southeast Asia, and I am beyond excited that I have this incredible opportunity to pursue my professional passions in Bangkok. This will be my first time living abroad, and I can’t wait to see how I grow both professionally and personally through getting out of my comfort zone.

These next two weeks before I depart will be pretty jam-packed, and some things that I have done to prepare for my travels include:

  • Booking my flight – I depart on June 15th and will have a long day of traveling ahead! My first flight is around 12 hours, then I’ll have a 3.5 hour layover, and then onto my next flight which is 8.5 hours. I’ll land in Bangkok around 12:30am on June 17th.
  • Arranging my cat’s travel – yes, my cat, Steven, will be coming with me to Thailand! Even though it is pricey to bring him and there’s LOTS of paperwork involved, I can’t imagine parting from him for a year. I’ve had him since he was a kitten, and he’s been my support system through the past 5 years or so. He’s not going to be happy traveling for roughly 24+ hours, but I think at the end of the day, we’ll both be glad to be together in Thailand! Since my cat already has all his vaccines, my first step was to apply for the import permit at the airport in Thailand. Then, I contacted the vet to help with getting the international health certificate. I’ve also been thinking about how to make him as comfortable as possible during the flight and travel time, including bringing a travel liter box for him. Steven has only been on one flight before (Nashville to NYC), so this will certainly be an interesting journey!
  • Preparing for the hot climate – Bangkok is hot, hot, hot! I’m used to warm, humid weather in Nashville, but not necessarily year-round heat. I made sure to get a pair of comfortable walking sandals and have been looking at the best work-appropriate clothes that will hold up well while commuting in the heat. There’s also monsoon season to consider, which will start in July pretty soon after my arrival.
  • Locating an apartment in Bangkok – It was harder than expected to find a pet-friendly apartment in Bangkok, but luckily, I did find a studio apartment that is budget-friendly.
  • Securing my visa – Asylum Access Thailand has been super helpful with the visa process and has made it pretty streamlined.
  • Packing – I’m trying to just pack the necessities with me, aka what I can fit in a carry-on suitcase and checked luggage. The rest of my belongings I’m moving out of my NYC apartment and shipping to friends in Nashville. Lots of boxes to take to UPS!
  • Submitting my two-weeks notice at my current job

Thank you to Shauna and the Lumos committee for allowing me to embark on my travels so long after the original timeline (and after some modifications – from Tokyo to Bangkok). Also, I’m so grateful to Dr. Ken Spring and Dr. Stepnick for their encouragement throughout this process.

Thank you to my friends and family for following along during this new journey to Thailand. Me and Steven will talk to you all soon virtually once we’ve arrived and settled in 🙂

trip to visit my sister and brother-in-law before the big move ... first-time pickleball players here!

Steven and my roommate’s cat, Mellow. We’ll miss you Mellow!