Hilde Marie Johansen, 23 years old from the small town Lavik of Norway, lost her father in the Tsunami tragedy. Now she is back in Thailand, pursue in her dream to study Fashion Design at Kalawin International School in Bangkok.
Hilde’s first impression of Thailand goes back in 2000 when she first visited Phuket with her family. Her father had been here before and he had fallen in love with Thailand right away.
“After hearing so many wonderful stories about Thailand from my dad, we decided to visit Thailand together,” Hilda recalls.
“I was impressed by the beautiful nature, beaches and the kindness of Thai people, I can see why my dad wanted us to come to Thailand”
Back in Norway Hilde studied Fashion and Textile major in college and on her last semester she had a chance to meet a teacher from Kalawin International Fashion School.
“I wanted to do something different because everyone else plans to study in typical places like Paris, Milan and England,” Hilda explains.
“I’m really fascinated by the Asian Style. When I visited Thailand, the temples here have inspired me because of their beautiful details, the colors, gold and the shiny objects”.
Hilde came back for a short visit in 2003 with her friends and this time she decided to study in Bangkok not only fashion but also culture. In August 2004 she came to Phuket to take an intensive Thai language course to prepare herself before the study in Bangkok
“For me to move to the other side of the world is a big step” Hilde explains.
“I was really homesick at the beginning but it was better when I started to have more friends and studying Thai was fun too”
Later that year her parents and her family came to Phuket to celebrate Christmas with her. Hilde was excited by the visit of her family and had counted down the days. Sadly on the 26 of December they were all at Kata Beach and were caught by the monster wave.
“We didn’t understand when the water disappeared,” Hilde tells about her Tsunami experience.
“We all run as fast as we could but it was not enough, it grabbed us all and it tore us apart. Today it is a miracle some of us are still alive”.
“The loss of my dad is very tragic. He didn’t deserve it, but who did?” says Hilde.
“The Tsunami didn’t differentiate if you are black, white, young, old, rich or poor. It was a tragic disaster for Thailand what happened that day but I will never be scared or blame Thailand for that. The country didn’t take away my dad’s life,”
After the Tsunami, Hilde went back home to take care of her mother and she had finished her study as a Make-up artist. She wanted to come back to Bangkok and accomplish what she had planned.
The return to Thailand
“I was so excited about moving to Bangkok, people said I wouldn’t like it there because of the traffic, pollution, people and the heat,” says Hilde.
“But I must say they are wrong, I love it so much and I’ve only been here for just 4 months”.
The course she is taking is called Haute Couture and Fashion design. It is an intensive course with 10 months period that based on a 3 years program in Paris.
“Sometime I find the study difficult because everything is in Thai,” says Hilde.
“But our teacher here is amazing, she can speak little English but we can still learn more from her everyday, we wouldn’t survive the course without her”
Beside Hilde there are five foreigners from Burma, Sri Lanka, Poland and Sweden. “We try to help each other out and we are all really closed, I am happy I got more Thai friends in Bangkok too”.
In the Memory of Tsunami
On 26 December 2006, Hilde went down to Phuket for the 2 years Tsunami memorial. She had her own ceremony with her Thai friends. There she went to Kata temple with gifts since the monks had taken care of her mother when she was injured on the tsunami day.
“It was funny that they could remember me,” says Hilde.
“The monks also prayed for my dad and my family. It was a very good feeling. After that we went to Kata Beach to put flowers on the last place me and my dad stood together before we started to run from the wave. Then at night time we sent up the fire balloon, it was a very nice and special day”.
Future is still a bit vague for Hilde when it comes to this subject but she would like to shed more light on her make-up artist passion. Another dream of hers is to live in Phuket.
“It will always be my second home,” says Hilda.
“For me it is a special feeling to be where my dad passed away. It can’t be compare to the ceremony at home in Norway where all I can feel is coldness but I can feel still feel his soul here”.