Can't Wait to Go Back Past Review

By (Public Health, University of Florida) - abroad from 05/29/2015 to 07/18/2015 with

The Education Abroad Network (TEAN): Thailand - Summer in Bangkok

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Studying abroad introduced me to a whole new group of people. I was able to study their culture and how this impacts daily life, while also experiencing how western culture impacts their life. I made new friends, who I really miss. I can't wait to go back in two years!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The Chiang Mai summer program provided the perfect introduction to studying abroad. The TEAN staff and professors were extremely helpful in helping us adjust to a totally new culture. Additionally, the group of students that I traveled with was absolutely amazing; I've made life-long friends from all around the US. In terms of education, TEAN offers several course options (e.g. Business, Buddhism, Public Health, Thai Dance). The classes are rigorous because they are trying to cram a semester's worth of information into 3 weeks each. However, they are manageable and very interesting. The Cultural Foundations class even helped us acclimate to our new surroundings by teaching us the correct mannerisms, role of religion, and history of Southeast Asia. TEAN provides a lot of resources, such as professor office hours, access to the CMU libraries, and visits to local experts.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

TEAN was really helpful in our pre-planning, arrival in Chiang Mai, and setting us up at CMU and Uniloft. We had three representatives present in Chiang Mai, who we could call if we ever needed anything. All logistical items were handled before we even got there, so our transition was very smooth. The TEAN orientation took us all around the city and taught us key phrases and mannerisms to help integrate into the culture. Every few weeks, TEAN would take us on an excursion (e.g Elephant Nature Park, dinner at fancy restaurant, etc.) that allowed us to catch up with everyone.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Our housing was spectacular, probably better than at my home university. We lived at Uniloft, which is a hybrid dorm/apartment student-living complex that is only a 5 minute walk from the university's back gate. The complex has a great location and awesome amenities; there's 2 swimming pools, study rooms, multiple ATMs, gym, laundry service, and a 7-11. There's so many bars, restaurants, and cafes nearby (even a cat cafe!); street food stalls are a three minute walk away and stay open till 2am! We shared a room with our Thai roommate. The size of the rooms are large enough, and you can close off your door for privacy. The private bathrooms are western-style and very clean. Overall, Uniloft is the perfect place for students.

* Food:

Thai food cannot be beat! You will never be let down. Everything is really spicy and has tons of flavor. There are a ton of food options that are extremely delicious and really cheap. Normal meals, not in fancier restaurants, can range from about 30 to 150 baht ($1-$5). TEAN provides a meal stipend of about 200 baht per day, which is very reasonable. The canteens on campus are the cheapest places to get food (about 20 baht for huge portions). Our Thai roommates definitely helped us find cheap, quality places around town. If you get a little homesick, there are a ton of restaurants in an area called Nimman that serve good western food (pasta, burgers, pizza, salad, etc.)

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I was really happy with how the program encouraged us to get a more authentic experience. By rooming with Thai students, we were able to learn about their favorite places to eat, local nightlife, resources on campus, how to stay polite in social interactions, and fun places to hangout. I had a great time touring the country with my roommate and was honored when he took me to his hometown to meet his family. The program really shows you the breadth of Thai society and culture. In class, we studied topics ranging from history to Buddhism, which were able to apply by visiting local temples, landmarks, and NGOs. By far, my favorite part was the Thai village home-stay. By living in a village for several days, we saw a totally different side of Thailand, the hardworking life of the rural populations. Overall, this program definitely integrated us well. By the end, we were able to speak some phrases in Thai and advise other travelers about their plans and more.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Our program had several representatives who we could call to take us to the clinic or hospital. Additionally, we were all enrolled in a study abroad insurance program to cover any costs. In our entire time in Chiang Mai, there was only one incident for stomach problems. In that case, one of the girls just called our program representative, who came like five minutes later to take her to a private hospital. She saw a doctor immediately and was on her way within an hour. She told us that the private hospital was way better than the health care avenues back in the US! Health care is extremely accessible. For small illnesses, we headed to any pharmacy (one on every corner) and the pharmacist prescribed something for our ailment. I didn't get any vaccines or anti-malarial pills. They're not really necessary because Chiang Mai is more urban and there's not many "health risks". I do recommend that you bring bug spray!

* Safety:

Chiang Mai is super safe! There was NEVER a time that I felt unsafe. Uniloft has multiple security guards that patrol the building 24/7, so nothing ever happened there. CMU also has its own security team to patrol campus. Around the city, there's nothing really to look out for. Everyone is really nice and minds their own business. During the day, we often broke off into small groups or even individually to tour the city and nothing ever happened. At night, we never got into any trouble either, even when we would come back from a night out at like 4am. Overall, Chiang Mai is extremely safe. The living accommodations are out of the old city, which is a more touristy area and has the potential for more crime (even though nothing ever happens). Just take the same precautions you do when you are your home university; stay in groups, don't walk alone at night, and be mindful of your surroundings.

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)

It's really easy to live on student budget, because the dollar is pretty strong against the Thai baht. When I was there, the conversion rate was 33 baht:1 dollar. This is great because cheap, good food costs about $1.50-$2 for a whole meal. TEAN provided a stipend for food, so that was basically covered for us. The stipend is super realistic and the daily allowance gives you a ton of food. Also, transportation is extremely cheap, you can go anywhere in the city for about $0.60. I spent most of my money on excursions and other fun experiences (e.g. Tiger Kingdom, bungee jumping, etc.). These were personal choices and everyone on our program definitely didn't do everything I did and I didn't do everything they did. Overall, Thailand is very student-budget friendly, whatever you decide to spend will be fore extra things like food, souvenirs, and things that are cheaper there than in the states (e.g. tattoos, some clothes, etc.)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $60
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Bargain for EVERYTHING. You can usually knock the price down at least 30%. Never pay more than 30 baht for a ride in a red truck. Ask your Thai roommates for cheap places to eat and hangout. Buy Thai products instead of imported brands (e.g. clothes, alcohol, etc.). Wait on big purchases until the end of your trip.


* 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

I was not enrolled in the Thai language class. The other students in the prgram that took this class, definitely learned a lot. Their professor, Ajan Gai, is the funniest professor I've ever met and is incredibly skilled at making his class so fun that you don't realize that you're learning. However, during our orientations, the TEAN staff taught us essential phrases like "hello", "how much?", "how are you?", and more to help us transition. Our roommates also helped us with pronunciation and politeness. Just living in Chiang Mai, you are encouraged to use Thai because many of the locals (e.g. red truck drivers and street vendors) are not too good at English. By the end of the program, I became a star at calling for taxis, telling them where we wanted to go, and bargaining for the best rate.

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? None
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 try your best! Thai people are impressed when you can speak even a little bit. Sometimes they will give better deals to foreigners who can bargain in Thai (try this at the Sunday market!)

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • 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? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Classes
  • City
  • Thai Roommates
* What could be improved?
  • Nothing
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew how easy it is to travel throuhgout the ASEAN region (flights are only $20-60!). I would have set aside a week or two before or after my program to visit other countries like Singapore, Vietnam, and Malaysia.

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 Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.