To me, protests are fun. Being a college student from the DC metropolitan area, when I hear the word protest I imagine people defending their right against something they deem unjust. I quickly realized that my flowery imagination was highly skewed and that a true protest was not as simple or optimistic. Bangkok, Thailand has surges of political unrest, and during my time abroad, I was living through one of their most historic protests. The dispute was nothing like my idea of a simple objection to a notion; mobs blocked the main streets every day, holding conventions for the parties and promoting their own beliefs. As a foreigner and a tourist in the nation, I was struck by the reality that I had been dropped in the middle of a time bomb in city that I resided.
I was not just reading these updates in the English newspaper. The events were hindering our planned itinerary, making it unsafe for my group to travel to the center of the city where most of our company visits resided. If we were lucky, a representative would commute to our hotel so that we could avoid bringing a group of American college students into a dangerous environment. The protests between the yellow shirts and the red shirts over the prime minister of the country stopped the daily lives of the natives as well as tourists plans. For us, not only did we have to be wary of where we went in the city, but also the colors that we wore; the Maryland colors of red and yellow were the same colors of the opposing parties.
We were fortunate to have left the capital for the northern city of Chaing Mai a day before a bombing in center city. Escaping the violence just hours before things started to erupt was pure luck. The experience, though nothing of what any study abroad student would expect to witness, was enlightening and enriching.
Globally, I am more interested in political issues in countries around the world and how it affects American business. Personally, I am taking more initiative to open my mind greater than College Park and Washington DC. I have found myself on my CNN app more and changing the news station to BBC. I realize that following news is important for businesses, knowing where to make investments and forecasting the environment of a specific place and how it could help or hinder their efforts.
I am glad that we arrived back from Thailand safe. Though some may wish that the trip was not during such a chaotic time, I appreciate its overall influences in developing a more matured look into world issues from the business side.