Meeting New People

Meeting new people

Meeting New People

Meeting new peopleWhen I signed up for the Winter Southeast Asia Seminar 2020 I didn’t know anybody else who had signed up for it, even though I was one of six students who were attending from my college. We all had a pre-departure meeting where we exchanged numbers so we could get to know one another and chat. Honestly, this was my first time meeting so many new people at once and traveling with them on top of it.

I highly suggest exchanging numbers, getting on a GroupMe app as we did, or WhatsApp. It helped break the ice and gave us a way to connect. We all became comfortable with each other after chatting more virtually.

The Flight

The flight itself was a bonding experience. All the students from other schools met at Chicago O’Hare Airport before flying for 24 hours. Use the time at the terminal to get to know everybody as well. I was not expecting the students from other schools to be flying to O’Hare before we all flew to Tokyo, Japan and then Bangkok, Thailand together. By the time we landed in Bangkok, we all felt like friends that had been through an experience! Meeting new people turned out to be not so hard after all!

Even after landing at 5:30 am, we were awake to enjoy the rest of the day. It was worth the exhaustion. I feel like since all of us were in the same boat we were able to get to know each other and connect fairly quickly.


I cannot stress enough how important it is to participate. Participate in the activities that IBS plans for us as well as if anyone is going off in their free time to do something. There are always going to be different activities that occur or someone is doing, so just find something that interests you or be the planner that wants to go do something. I know that for me there were some days that I just wanted to relax during my free time and hang out by the pool and there were a bunch of us that felt that way. It was through hanging out by the pool that I grew closer to some of the students from other schools.


There is always something going on in both Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City. It also felt pretty safe where we were and for each of the activities that anyone wanted to do. There were nights where some of us would hang out at the rooftop bar, hit the “red light district” in Bangkok, or the backpackers street in Ho Chi Minh City, or even to go visit the ancient city in Thai Ban Mai.

I think in terms of nightlife it is important to do what you are comfortable with. It’s also important to understand that these experiences are one of a kind. Everyone is also outside of their comfort zone.

Meeting New PeopleOne of my favorite nights was actually when one of the students on the trip had a birthday and we ventured out of our hotel’s rooftop bar to get a 360-degree view of Bangkok and then went to Bangkok’s red-light district. I was very much out of my comfort zone and did experience some culture shock entering some of the bars in the red light district, but it was also a great way to bond with the people I was traveling with and building memories. Those experiences will always be with me!

The greatest advice I can give to you for a seminar is to fully immerse yourself in the experience. Try your hardest to get to know the people that you are traveling with. It will all be worth it. I made some amazing friends on this trip who I am still talking to. We even have plans to visit each other soon! This experience is 100% worth it!

Alyssa O'Donnell
Alyssa O’Donnell View Full Bio

School: Northern Illinois University

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do” -H. Jackson Brown Jr

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