An unexpectedly deep foray into Thai culture with a great reward. Past Review

By (Anthropology/Sociology, Kalamazoo College) - abroad from 08/16/2011 to 02/01/2012 with

ISDSI: Sustainable Development Studies: Thailand

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I felt like I knew the country, I knew the people, I knew the food systems, I knew the ecology, and I knew the cultural values and mores by the time I left. I don't think I would exchange that experience for anything. It was definitely worthwhile; speaking to my friends from Kalamazoo College who returned from other study abroad programs, those of us who attended ISDSI had by far the best stories, the most engaged host families, the best language acquisition, and the most diverse, engaging, challenging experiences. Bravo, ISDSI!

Review Photos

ISDSI - International Sustainable Development Studies Institute: Thailand - Field Courses Photo ISDSI - International Sustainable Development Studies Institute: Thailand - Field Courses Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt much more integrated than a normal farang visitor to the country probably feels. That being said, despite the fact that I could speak Thai, behaved extraordinarily carefully and respectfully, and even dressed in Thai university clothes often, it grated on me by the end of the experience that I would always hold the status of a tourist when I was in the city.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I needed an evacuation for medical reasons at one point, and ISDSI graciously, easily, and carefully arranged for my transport to and from a local hospital that gave me excellent quality care. I was impressed; I felt safe, well-cared for, and did not feel like an undue burden.

* Safety:

I never felt unsafe; not once.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

The ISDSI stipend was excellent!

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? No idea?
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Buy street food!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? N/A
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? HOST FAMILIES!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Political Ecology of Forests
  • Thai language classes
  • field expedition class set-up
* What could be improved?
  • more communication during ICRP
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? More appropriate suggestions for gifts for host families, so I could have come prepared with a nice one for my Chiang Mai host family, and smaller, nicer ones for the other EIGHT host families I would have.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.