Name: Simon Bachhofer
Internship period: 07/08/2018 – 27/10/2018
Department: German-Thai Dual Excellence Education (GTDEE)
Motto: All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us – J.R.R. Tolkien
Tell us about your past studies in Germany:
My Grandparents always say that I am the “third generation” of the family going to Thailand. They actually were the first ones and moved to a small village near Phayao in the 60s. My father and most of his siblings were born in the north of Thailand. They all returned to Germany in the 80s. When I was 5 years old, my parents decided to move to Chiang Mai with me and my sister and thus the “second generation Bachhofer” left Germany for Thailand. We had lived there for 8 years (my second sister was born here) and I learned to love the country and the people. I did not realize I had learned something from those 8 years until I returned to Germany. For example I learned to understand that strangers are not always smiling and friendly. As the saying goes: “You never know what you have until you lose it”. That does not only apply to the friendly Thai people, but also the food, the weather, my communities and Thailand’s travel destinations.
Why did you choose to take your GTCC internship with your current department? What are your main duties there?
It was sheer luck! For my studies in Germany I am obliged to do an 8+ weeks internship. During my semester abroad in Shanghai I did receive some rejections so I had to look for other places, I could do my internship at. My search focused at companies and organizations based in Thailand and I wrote about 15 applications. After some nerve wrecking weeks of no replies or rejections I was invited to an internship interview with a Project Manager of the GTDEE department and shortly after I did receive my confirmation. As a social sciences student, I am really happy I ended up in the education department. It is very divers and hardly a day compares to another. I have to prepare visa applications, helped prepare fair booths, join a workshop at a college but also often have to do computer work and translations. Although I spend most time in the office, there were various occasions on which I was able to have a look at our actual projects outside. In conclusion: During my first 5 weeks in the GTCC, I was not able to make out any “main duties”.
Where in Chiang Mai & what local food would you recommend your German friends to explore?
During my time in Chiang Mai I never lived very near to the tourist hot spots and famous temples. Most 3-day tourists could show me around the old city center. My life took place in the south of Chiang Mai. Most places I would visit right away wouldn’t be of big interest to tourists. They are just precious to me because of the memories I connect with them. My former school, places I spend my free time, houses we used to live in and places where we went shopping. But where I really can recommend for anyone visiting Chiang Mai and bringing some days extra, would be Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (a temple located on the top of Doi Suthep mountain, from which you will have a great panoramic view over Chiang Mai, if the weather is right) or the Ratchaphruek Royal Flora Exhibition (located in a big park in which gardens from all over the world have been rebuild, nice place to spend a few hours and relax).
When it comes to Thai food in general, there is not much you can do wrong. That also goes for northern Thai food. First, of course, I would introduce my friends to the northern Thai curries „Khao Soi“ and „Gaeng Hung Lay“. I also can recommend the northern Thai chili paste dishes „Nam Prik Ong“ and „Nam Prik Num“. But as the names already say, you should not have any problem with spicy food.
What is your plan for the next 5 years?
This definitely is the hardest question. First of all I will have to finish my current bachelor studies, which will take another year to do. What will happen afterwards still is uncertain, but I should start figuring that out soon. At the moment only two options come to my mind: either continuing with the master’s degree right after (maybe abroad), or work for one-two years abroad and see some more of the world before continuing with my master studies. But I hope that my future holds some jobs abroad for me.