Living in the United States has been filled with challenges for Panidcha “Best” Limsakun. The 25-year-old Thailand native spent more than a year learning English before getting into graduate school at Northern Illinois University.
A graduate of Thammasat University, Limsakun is now a year into the university’s master of public administration program. Her newest challenge is learning how American government works at the local level in the city of DeKalb, where she will work as a management intern until she graduates in May.
After graduation she plans to return to Bangkok, Thailand, to use what she learned to improve her home country. Limsakun recently discussed her experiences with reporter Katie Dahlstrom.
Dahlstrom: How did you get the nickname Best?
Limsakun: My father gave it to me. I asked my mom this question and she told me that he almost graduated from the university, just like five classes left. But he couldn’t do it. That’s why he gave me this name to do it for him, probably, graduate from university.
Dahlstrom: So what’s the hardest part about learning English?
Limsakun: For me, it’s writing. The vocabulary is very difficult. I mean, to understand what is the right meaning of that word. When you have something in your head and you like to use different words in my language and you don’t really know what the different [word] means in your language. That is the difficult part.
Dahlstrom: Why did you choose NIU?
Limsakun: I looked for the U.S. rank. I wanted to be here because of the cold weather, but it was really cold last year. I mean, compared to Thailand we have like 80 degrees and 90 degrees, but here it’s like almost zero. First, I would like to be here to touch the feeling of cold weather, because I would like to touch the feeling of snow. But it’s cold for almost six months last year. I’m counting everyday for my summer.
Dahlstrom: What’s your favorite part about being an intern here?
Limsakun: That’s kind of difficult. The thing is I’m learning new things all the time. The thing is the structure is totally different. How they work, how they function, is totally different. I have to discover how the city manager works with the board, because in Thailand we don’t have this kind of stuff. Also, working is a new experience. I never worked before.
Dahlstrom: Why do you want to work in government?
Limsakun: When I was in high-school age, I experienced two situations that make me feel totally bad with government in Thailand. The first one is with local government. Some of the representatives in my village just misused their power to gain something. The second one is when Thailand was hit by tsunami in 2004, I believe. I think they had a poor management in the situation, in the emergency situation. It appears [there is] a lot of corruption, and I feel like I can do something for my whole country.