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Thichakorn Plengpanich

My Journey to Becoming a Travel Journalist

Wherever I am in the world, I still consider New Zealand home. It is where I found myself.

If you had asked me to point out Blenheim on the map, I wouldn’t have had a clue.

I specifically remember my father laughing when we landed at the airport. He said “this place is so quiet, you will have no choice but to study hard.”

Let’s be real, any place compared to home (Bangkok) is quiet.

I arrived a bit later than everyone else, a month to be exact. The school year had already started. To say I was confused would be an understatement. Everything was so unfamiliar.

Luckily, I was assigned a dean, Mrs. Wicks, who took care of all the international students.

She talked me through all the subjects I was interested in, and together we came up with a pretty decent timetable. She then later introduced me to my “buddy” Rachel who became my first friend at Marlborough Girls' College (MGC).

My first class was Drama. It was suggested that since I wanted to study film at university, Drama would give me solid foundation. But the class wasn’t studying the drama I knew. They were rehearsing Shakespeare. I did not understand a single word that came out of their mouths. I ran back to Mrs. Wick’s office begging her to put me in a different class. She laughed and simply said to be patient.

Other classes weren’t so bad. My favourites were Classics, History, English and Photography. I got to choose and learn something I was curious about. And when you have that kind of freedom, studying becomes fun, and that soon included Drama...

I guess you could say I was luckier than a lot of people. I knew some English before I arrived, and didn’t mind being corrected. I adapted pretty quickly and I had a lot of people to thank for that. From Shakespeare to puppet shows about Papatūānuku - these languages and stories had me working harder than anyone else. You can imagine the difficulties faced when translating Shakespearean English to modern English, then to Thai. I practically studied English 3 times harder than anyone else. Patience did pay off in the end.

It would be a lie if I said it wasn’t hard. It was. But the school also gave me a safety net. I knew there would be someone there to catch me.

Slowly, I made some friends too. Grace from Photography, Lucy and Kirby from History, Aimee from Classics, Emily from Drama and Laura from English. Before I knew it we started hanging out during school, after school, and on weekends. We started doing musicals and plays. I took up Speech & Drama classes outside school, and joined a jazz band. Any free time I had I spent on photography, books and film. Oh how I proved my father wrong. The word “homesick” vanished. I was busy growing up.

My host mother, Julie, encouraged me to take up every opportunity that came my way. Including being a prefect, something I never thought I was qualified for. Isn’t a prefect something out of the Harry Potter books? It was a big responsibility, but it taught me lessons I never knew I needed. To learn to lead and to be an example.

I went on to Victoria University to study a BA majoring in Theatre (who’s laughing now), History, and later honours in Media. I now work as a freelance producer and travel journalist. I get to travel all over the world and create new stories.

Looking back, I can honestly say those were my best memories. The friendships I made were for life. The lessons I learned shaped me to be who I am today.

Wherever I am in the world, I still consider New Zealand home. It is where I found myself.

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Thichakorn Plengpanich

By Thichakorn PlengpanichThai graduate

Updated 11 months ago

Thichakorn studied at Marlborough Girls’ College in Blenheim at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, before going on to study theatre, history and media at Victoria University of Wellington. She now works as a freelance travel writer, and in 2018 won a National Geographic Thailand (NGT) Explorer Award for her work. She says that the more she travels, the more she discovers that she is a very small part of the world. At the same time, she understands more of what she wants in life. 

*Views expressed are the blogger's own
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