For sisters Pitchpatu and Pitchaya Waiyachote of Bangkok, attending and graduating from Indiana State means much more than getting a college diploma.
“It helped me grow as a person,” Pitchpatu said. “I made a lot of good friends. A lot of my friends and a few of my professors still keep in touch today. I don’t know — maybe we will be friends over a lifetime. I miss ISU a lot.”
Added Pitchaya, “I think I am who I am today — ISU had a big part in that. I was just a kid when I went there, but I think I grew more because I was on the campus.”
A public relations major, Pitchpatu, ’05, worked in what is now the university’s Office of Communications and Marketing. “That (student work experience) helped me a lot — writing, working on news clips every day. I did that when I got my first job at a PR agency, so everything I do, ISU kind of helped me with.”
Pitchpatu is now assistant president for marketing communication and international relations at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and teaches students.
“I became an intellectual (at Indiana State),” Pitchpatu said. “I have my own (student) advisees, and I treat my students like my professors treated me there — like caring and being very approachable and giving good advice. Everything that I know I learned from professors at ISU.”
A journalism major, Pitchaya, ’07, also says her experiences at Indiana State helped prepare her for her career. She works as a junior producer at IFA Media, a TV documentary production house.
“ISU is a multi-cultural campus, so the company that I work with now requires multi-cultural interaction. We have to work with Singaporean people or Chinese or American people, so I kind of feel like I don’t have to adapt as much,” she said.
Pitchpatu learned about Indiana State when a recruiter visited Thailand and shared information about the university. She applied and was accepted. When it was time for Pitchaya to attend college two years later, she followed her sister to the Midwest.
Pitchaya describes the campus as peaceful and tidy.
“It was completely different from Bangkok, so it was like a new experience to me,” Pitchpatu said. “I love it there.”
Like most college students, those 8 a.m. classes were tough to make it to on time, but being busy helped keep homesickness at bay.
“During the first semester — actually the first two months before midterm — I was home sick, but after that life goes on. I studied, had friends and like I told my sister, I didn’t miss home anymore after that,” she said. “We still talked to our family back home, but it was fun being at ISU.”
Pitchaya took longer to adjust to her new surroundings. “By my third year, it was okay, because I participated in more activities and had more friends,” she said.
Winter took some getting used to, too, the sisters say. They’d never seen snow.
“The first winter was too cold for me, but the second time was okay,” Pitchaya said. “Once, the classes got cancelled because of the snow, so we loved that.”
The sisters say they would recommend any student — Thai or otherwise — study at Indiana State.
“You’re going to learn a lot. It’s a place that you can discover yourself, what you like to do in the future and because ISU is a small town, you have to do everything on your now, so you grow as a person, you gain more self-confidence, you gain more self-respect,” Pitchpatu said. “You learn to respect other people, because even though it’s a small community, people from around the world come to ISU to study, so you get to learn about other cultures and other people.”
Even though the draw of big city lights seems glamorous, Pitchaya also recommends checking out Indiana State.
“Thai people mostly want to go to go to a big city when they go abroad, but I think going to a small town, you’re not being in a group of your Thai friends, so you get to know other people from other countries, from Indiana from other states,” she said. “You learn a lot about yourself and life.”