Perhaps one of the most niche experiences of being an international school kid is of moving from school to school. But as our host, Michael Waitze, and our guest, Anya Paopiamsap, discuss in this episode, there are many merits to this constant relocation – most notably, it has enabled embracing the “awkwardness” that comes with being new.
A student under the Integrated Bachelor and Masters Programme of Physics at the University of Oxford, Anya graduated from Bangkok Patana in 2019. Before her final five years there, she spent her childhood at another international school in Thailand, before briefly living in China and Malaysia due to her mother’s job. It wasn’t until she moved to Patana, however, that she finally “understood what awkwardness meant”, having always been too young to remember what relocation and restarting felt like. However, this has now transcended into a certain ease arriving at Oxford, where “there’s nothing to be worried about because everyone’s just as worried as you are”. Michael himself relocated a lot, and their shared reminiscence of moving schools led to a decisive shared conclusion: you learn to become adaptable.
In this episode, they cover the topic of moving and breaking assumptions of where one is from, the humour behind incorrect assumptions (“Oh, I thought you were Asian American!), and what motivated Anya’s decision to remain in England amidst the mass movement back home for many international students. Anecdotes of her decision to move from art to physics, and comparisons between Patana and Oxford, intersperse this surprisingly humorous look at the international school experience, and what it could mean for new students moving onwards through the pandemic.