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From Bangkok to Wellington

International student Veerapat (Ohm) Wongsirojkul comes from Thailand and boards at Scots College. He tells us about his experiences of boarding at Gibb House, and of what it’s like to move to a new country.

The first time I heard about Scots College was through a New Zealand High School festival in Bangkok,” recalls Ohm. “Scots College stood out to me and my parents the most, as it gave sense of balance between participating in extracurricular activities and academics.”

“I would say I was hooked when I saw the recording studio and how flexible the curriculum is.”

Ohm joined Scots College in 2020. “I had a choice between homestay or the boarding house, and I chose to be a boarder because I wanted to be more immersed in the NZ culture and I wanted to talk to more people in my year on a daily basis.”

However, Ohm’s move to a new country wasn't without its challenges.

“An initial challenge was the language barrier that I faced at the time; I was scared of making mistakes and thought that my peers would make fun of me,” remembers Ohm.

“When I first came here, I normally just responded with yes, no, ok, thank you, to avoid making mistakes. However, my first room mate welcomed me with open arms. Aware that I didn't have much confidence to speak, he encouraged me to get involved with everything that was available at Scots College. I think I tried every sport at Scots at that time. I made many friends, and it helped me to adapt to a new culture.”

“Gibb House also gave me many opportunities to learn about the New Zealand lifestyle,” says Ohm.

At weekends, the boarding staff organize different activities for students outside of school, for example watching rugby and cricket tournaments and bowling. “These activities have allowed me to build connections with both staff and students, and really helped me to adapt to the new environment,” says Ohm.

An important part of Ohm’s experience has been the diverse and international make-up of the Gibb House community. With students coming from a wide range of cultures and continents, such as America, Europe, and Asia, the opportunities to learn about different cultures are tremendous.

“Living and studying alongside peers from different cultural backgrounds has been very enriching,” reflects Ohm. “Last week, in my psychology class we were discussing culture dimensions and the concept of culture shock. Our teacher encouraged us to talk about different practices that exist between different cultures. We talked about how different cultures wash dishes, and I was really fascinated that there is more than one way to wash dishes. But this type of discussion often creates interest and develops our global mindset rather than causing any challenges or misunderstandings.”

One of Ohm’s recent highlights was International Week in 2023. “Two students - Neva and Latisha - aimed to raise awareness about different cultures and organised some cultural food stalls. I was part of the Thai stall, and all I can say is the event was really a success, every stall not only sold their cultural food, but also held different activities that are unique to their culture, such as calligraphy, sports, and henna. This event has become the legacy of International Week, and we are planning to continue this event for many years to come.”

If you are interested in boarding at Scots College, please click here to read more.

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