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Emily McCrorie and her capstone group at a Royal Irrigation Department water monitoring station (TC.4) on the Chao Phraya River, the major river running through Bangkok. From left to right, Emily McCrorie, Caroline Keough, Kun Thep, and Kun Best, who gave us a tour of the Royal Irrigation Department. These stations measure water level every hour, and remotely send it back to the Royal Irrigation Department headquarters, which compiles the data for all major rivers in Thailand. For our Capstone project, we used the water level and discharge data provided by stations like this one, as well as water quality data from the Pollution Control Department (at different stations) to calculate an Environmental Water Requirement in a local river.


What is your name: Emily McCrorie
Major: Environmental Health Science
Expected graduation date: May 2017

Why did you want to go to the Thailand Field Site?
I wanted to participate in the Thailand Field Site in order to study abroad and be able to graduate on time, getting credit towards my major away from Chapel Hill. The more exciting (if maybe less relevant) reasons are that I wanted to go to Asia, a place I had never been, and have the experience of actually living in a HUGE city. I wanted to work with the great professors who publish a lot at the university in Bangkok. And I also wanted to travel (in moderation), as well as get to know my city and many of the environmental problems that it faces.

What specifically are you doing in Thailand?
Apart from taking four classes (two of which will count directly towards my major), I am participating in a research project focused on reducing pollution in a very dirty river west of Bangkok. My group is calculating the water quality, and making suggestions to the Thai governmental departments who are concerned with the pollution in this region. Afterhours, I eat noodles, speak broken Thai to anyone selling “cha nom” (Thai milk tea), get Thai massages, and go to every market I find.

What has been the most impactful experience you’ve had while in Thailand?
The most impactful experience I have had in Thailand has been working on my Capstone project. Through the research, I have learned about the Thai culture and government in a different way than I had before. From requesting data (making sure you are very polite) to working with other students at the university (learning how to ask very specific questions and listening extra hard) to taking visits to different departments (and exercising a level of patience unknown to me before) have all taught me how a completely different system successfully operates.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve taken away from your experience in Thailand?
I am not in control! The first three weeks I lived in Thailand, ordering food was a struggle, but I learned to never be embarrassed, and if you don’t get what you wanted, roll with it. I can walk behind a group of students at 0.5 mph, and sweating is an unavoidable consequence for stepping outside.

Do you have any advice for other students who are considering going to the Thailand Field Site?
Bangkok is a great city – but it’s not always easy to live in! It is a hot, crowded, dirty city, but I have learned to love it for just what it is.

Anything else to share?
Maybe my answers to the above questions have not conveyed my love of Thai people!! Thai people are friendly, never rude, and always willing to help you out. I have more than one friend on Facebook after a waitress asked a random student at the table next to me if she could speak English. Thai people’s everlasting love of markets, snacks, Thailand, and AC has been one of the best parts of living in Bangkok!
Picture of my Capstone group at a Royal Irrigation Department water monitoring station on the Chao Phraya River, the major river running through Bangkok

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