5 Months of Unimaginable Adventure Past Review

By (Lehigh University) - abroad from 01/08/2019 to 05/18/2019 with

The Education Abroad Network (TEAN): Thailand - Semester in Chiang Mai

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how to admire and participate in Thai culture while also respecting the practices. I gained a newfound understanding of Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries roles in geopolitics (which is extremely important if you've only been exposed to Western countries' roles). I learned how to be more patient and more understanding of those that are different than me. I also gained friends from other parts of the world (within the US and from Thailand) that I can't wait to see again!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

What I learned in classes and how it applied to life in Thailand really stood out to me. Learning not only Thai language but also Thailand's history and politics really gave me a more informed and Southeast Asian perspective on global affairs. The courses were not too rigorous that you didn't have time to immerse yourself into the country you were studying

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The TEAN staff are AMAZING. I can't speak enough about how helpful and reliable they were for the entirety of the program. If I needed recommendations for a trip or needed help finding transportation, help was always a call or text away. During my stay in Chiang Mai, the air quality of the city diminished drastically but TEAN quickly addressed it by giving us masks, air purifiers, and time off from school when necessary.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in DCondo, which is an apartment-style arrangement. I loved living here because I had my own living space (no roommates), a kitchen for storing snacks/ leftovers, and it was close to delicious restaurants. The only downside is that more people opted to live in Uniloft so there were only a few of us in DCondo, but both accommodations are close to campus and to each other.

* Food:

DELICIOUS. Khao Soi, pumpkin curry, papaya salad... I could go on and on. Having flavorful and filling meals that cost less than $3 is a luxury you just can't find in the US. Take advantage of it! There are so many amazing vegetarian restaurants I discovered in my last month I wish I'd known about sooner. Also, there are delicious Indian restaurants in Chiang Mai... try new things, I promise it will be worth it!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

TEAN did an absolutely fantastic job at emphasizing how important it was to not only learn about the culture but immerse yourself in it. We had ample opportunity to learn and get involved in the culture during the village homestay, the various excursions, and visits to local nonprofits. We also had Thai Buddies who were Thai college students that really showed us the best non-touristy parts of the city. Once they give the tools to interact with the culture, it's really up to you how much you want to get involved (my recommendation is to really go for it!!!). Talk to the local people with the phrases you learn in class. Go to celebrations during Lunar New Year. Find out what the locals are up to and try it out for yourself!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I personally didn't need to go to the doctor during my time abroad but from what I can tell, the hospitals in Chiang Mai provide high-quality care.

* Safety:

I feel less safe at my home university in Pennsylvania than I did in Thailand. There is an adjustment period for knowing how to cross the busy road, but I'd say that's the most treacherous thing about Chiang Mai. It is a very safe place, even for walking alone at night.

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

Choosing this particular program and destination was hands down the best decision I've ever made. The experience itself was challenging, fulfilling, heartwarming, immersive, and crazy fun. I would go back right now if I could. I'm Asian American and going back to a region that has a lot of familial history was eye-opening and an opportunity of a lifetime. I learned a lot about myself and I think I'm a better person because of the way I got out of my comfort zone (physically, mentally, spiritually).


* 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)

Living in Thailand on a tight budget is entirely possible! You can live VERY comfortably in Thailand with a budget of $350 every month. The only thing that hikes up the cost is additional travel (to other cities in Thailand or to other countries) so plan in advance!

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? ~$80 for food, going out (to movies, bars, etc), and buying souvenirs
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I kept a spreadsheet on google sheets where I listed every expense per day so I'd know to live within my means


* 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

Learning to speak Thai was one of the greatest gifts of this program. Even if you aren't the best at it, there is plenty of chances to learn and practice. There is no better time to learn Thai than while you're in Thailand, so why not try your best?

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
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? Kru Gai (Thai language teacher) is PHENOMENAL. He's kind and truly goes out of his way to help you learn Thai. He comes up with fun songs to help you learn things like the days of the week. PRACTICE these songs! They are hilarious and you'll pick the language up much quicker.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • N/A
* 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?
  • Food
  • Thai people
  • Cultural Excursions
* What could be improved?
  • Revised syllabus for Buddhism Class
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I hadn't gotten into such a routine with where I ate so quickly and kept exploring new places throughout the entirety of the program.