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By (Pennsylvania State University - University Park / Penn State) - abroad from 01/07/2019 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?
You don’t realize how far a simple smile can go until you experience it in place of words, and I don’t think there was one day I didn’t feel the radiating kindness. From the wholesome, simple lifestyle in the village, to the music blasting at Zoe in Yellow, each person reflected pure joy in what they were doing because they did it surrounded by those they love. It just goes to show how little we need to truly find happiness, and how important it is to hold onto it once we’ve got it. In Thailand, it was never about who had the next best thing, but instead how can we help someone feel a little bit better today. My biggest takeaway from studying abroad in Thailand was a shift in perspective and newfound appreciation for all that I’ve had and have the potential to receive. It’s eye-opening, and one day the whole world will see it too.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Studying at Chiang Mai University was what really brought the trip together. For me, it truly felt as though I lived in Thailand and in fact, I became so accustomed to my daily schedule that I started to forget I had a home university to go back to! I learned how to communicate with more than just words (and the help of google translate) with the Thai students at CMU who welcomed us as if we’d been there all along. It was nice to be able to sit in the common rooms and see the students interacting just as I would with my friends at Penn State, studying hard and deciding which canteen we were going to eat in that day. As hard as this may be to believe to my fellow American’s back home, the school food ended up being some of my favorite! My teachers were incredible at acclimating us into Thai society by not just teaching us the subject at hand, but also stores to shop at, places to visit, dos/don’ts of the many festivals in Thailand and their own experiences adjusting to life on this side of the world. Each day spent on the picture perfect campus was a lesson gained, and I feel so fortunate to have had such a safe environment to grow and learn a new culture within.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Orientation was easily my favorite part of the trip. We learned the culture of Thailand, specifically in Chiang Mai, by becoming fully submerged within it. I don't think a day has gone by where I haven't talked about my village homestay experience. Whether that be running out of the shower at the sight of a cockroach, planting rice in the family fields, cooking with my Mom or riding our bikes around the close knit community. I will admit it, seeing the homestay on the program itinerary made me a bit nervous, but I think it's fair to say it shaped my entire trip. I fell in love with the Thai people and their simple, beautiful lifestyle where I was welcomed with open arms. I've never felt so much love, and yet almost no words were spoken. I keep in touch with my village sister to this day, seeing what her and her family are up to and reminiscing on the time I was lucky enough to have there. I went to every TEAN activity I was in Thailand for (I traveled to quite a few countries!) and I'm happy I did. It gave our program a chance to just be together outside of school and bond over the pure fact that we’ve been living in Thailand for so long! Specifically, the Thai buddies was my favorite experience. I actually became very close with a few of them (as well as some Muay Thai instructors) who brought us out at night to local Thai bars, amazing food stalls and answered any questions we had, no matter how many there were. Whenever I’d get a little homesick, I’d remind myself of this community I had here in Thailand and how lucky I was to have it. TEAN did all they could to make sure we knew we weren’t alone over here, and that’s a special feeling.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in Uniloft Chiang Mai. I would definitely recommend living here if having a roommate is a priority. It is wonderfully located in the heart of Suhtep for easy access to street food (miles of it!), cafes, 711s and CMU. I had a great experience here and living on a hall with almost all the other girls in my program was pretty great. Uniloft is very secure and the second I stepped foot on the property I knew I was safe

* Food:

I'm vegan and I was able to communicate my needs clearly. It takes patience and a bit more effort, but I still was able to have a full experience with Thai food.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Extremely helpful. The TEAN staff will bring you and help you communicate with the hospital team. It's hard to live in a foreign country, especially while sick, but they make it as comfortable as it can be. I did not get any vaccines and I had no problem!

* Safety:

There wasn't one moment where I felt unsafe. Its the land of smiles for a reason :)

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

TEAN is incredible. I felt so safe and so welcomed. It's hard to make such a big move, but TEAN made it as smooth as it possibly could be. I'm so thankful for all the new people in my life.


* 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)

Get ready to save!

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 20 USD
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Eat at the local stalls!!!!!


* 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 the language was a HUGE help!

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? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? High school Itaian
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? Just start using it. The locals love when we try to communicate and they will help you find your words!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* 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?
  • The safety
* What could be improved?
  • Nothing!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That I would be living the most simple lifestyle. Bring minimal items! Also, be aware of the air quality index. I did not know that was something to be mindful of before Thailand.

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'