A Life-Changing Experience! Past Review

By (University of Central Florida) - abroad from 05/23/2018 to 07/14/2018 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a worldview. This was my first time abroad, and I could not have imagined a better way to do it or a better place to go. Thailand is very different from the U.S, and it was scary yet extremely liberating to immerse myself into such a different culture. Personally, I think much of Thai culture is beautiful, and it was a genuinely amazing experience to learn about Buddhism in a predominately Buddhist country. I do not have adequate words to describe this experience. I will always treasure my time in Thailand.

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.

I took one class at a time, three weeks long each. My first class was Buddhism in Southeast Asia and my second was Human Rights in Southeast Asia. We were in class three hours a day Monday-Friday, giving us ample time to explore both before and after class. I absolutely loved my Buddhism class. I learned so much in those three weeks, but it was not overwhelming. We took multiple field trips to temples, and we stayed the night in a Thai Forest Tradition temple. In the morning, we followed the Monk on his alms through the village. It was an experience I never would have even imagines I would be able to have; it was beautiful! For my human rights class, we took a three night field trip to the Golden Triangle, where Burma, Laos, and Thailand meet. This was an extremely educational yet fun field trip. Both courses had readings, but not an excessive amount, and the teachers did a good job of engaging us in class. We had a few quizzes in Buddhism and a five-page final paper. In Human Rights, we only had one test-- the final-- and a 15 page paper, though both of these were take-home and not due until five days after the program ended. I feel that there was an appropriate amount of work in both classes.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Nala and Lauren were phenomenal TEAN advisors. Lauren did a great job of making sure we all knew what was going on right from the beginning, and she organized wonderful excursions for us. She was always kind and gave wonderful advice about being a foreigner living in Thailand. Lauren is so cool! Nala was also a wonderful help, and such a sweet friend. She is the local Thai administrator. She was always helping us figure out transportation, ordering vans or red trucks when we wanted to take a day trip somewhere further away. She went with us on our overnight temple stay and made it lots of fun (and she translated when we went on a temple tour an hour north). She always had great restaurant recommendations. Nala had an advising hour after every class session, so she was easily accessible and always willing to talk. I'm very grateful for both Nala and Lauren.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I absolutely LOVED where I lived. I paid a little extra to live in Dcondo as opposed to the dorms. Dcondo has private rooms with a small kitchen and a bathroom. Students who choose to live in Dcondo are subleasing it from someone else, so my room came completely decorated, and I had a washing machine on my little balcony. Dcondo is absolutely gorgeous, even better than the pictures. There is a large pool and a gym open to residents. It is a short walk away from Uniloft, so it was never difficult to meet up with my friends who lived there. I miss my Dcondo room!

* Food:

The food was DELICIOUS. I was worried about the food, because I do not handle spice well. I found that most servers asked the TEAN students if they wanted their meal spicy or not (because they know Americans are weak on the spice levels). I ate a lot of fried rice, pad thai, and stir fried vegetables, and it was all 100 percent better than any version you can find in America.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt more integrated into the culture than I expected to be. We went to school with Thai students, though not in the same classes as them. A couple of people in Uniloft chose to live with Thai roommates, and I quickly became friends with them. They were eager to have American friends, and we were eager to have Thai friends. Phurne and Meah were the largest factors in making me feel integrated into the culture. Phurne took us to local bars and made us try all kinds of different street foods. Meah taught us Thai slang and was always down to explore or go dancing. I miss them! I also thing taking classes in a country like Thailand is the best way to visit. Because I was there for an extended time, and doing something as normal as going to University, I did not feel like a tourist. Being there for seven weeks, or even just three weeks, gives students time to explore locally and not just hit tourist spots.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

TEAN provides health insurance for us. I never had to use it, but I know people who did, and they did not have any issues. The two people who used it had a small stomach bug that quickly went away. The hospitals are very good in Chiang Mai.

* Safety:

I never felt unsafe while in Chiang Mai. I never feared to walk by myself somewhere; no one ever yelled out anything to me or approached me in any way. Everyone is either exceptionally friendly or just leaves you alone. The traffic is crazy, but if you follow TEAN's rules and don't drive yourself anywhere, you should be fine. The red truck and grab drivers know how to navigate Thailand's busy roads.

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)

Chiang Mai is so cheap! The USD-Baht conversion is about 1 USD to 32 Baht. You can get delicious street food-- and lots of it-- for 25 Baht (less than 1 USD). Even the cafes on Suthep Road are not bad. I often got fried rice with chicken for 45-55 Baht. The transportation was also very cheap. One example I like to tell people is that when we ordered a red truck for sticky fall (an hour and a half each direction), the man waited two hours for us and took us back home. There were eight people splitting the cost, and it only ended up being 5 USDs per person. In the U.S, the price for a 3 hour journey plus two hours of waiting would have been extremely high.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 40-100 USD per 7-day week, depending on if we paid for excursions or activities that week.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Eat street food! It's good, cheap, and usually safe. Just don't eat seafood, especially from a street vendor. (we are not close to the water).


* 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

TEAN offered a Thai language course for students staying both sessions. I did not take it, but I heard great things.

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?
  • The friends I met
  • The helpful TEAN communtiy
  • The country!! I fell in love with Thailand.
* What could be improved?
  • The phone plan was pretty difficult to figure out. We were told to just say "DTAC" and show our phones to the 7/11 clerks, but none of them ever knew what we were talking about. It took all of us a while to figure out how to load credit onto our sim cards.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I was nervous that I wouldn't make friends, and that I would be exploring on my own all the time. I am quite introverted and sometimes it is hard for me to put myself out there socially. I wish I had known that almost everyone on the program would be on the same boat as me, being in Thailand for the first time without knowing anyone at all. TEAN organized a lunch for us on arrival day, and I immediately met the group I would mostly hang out with the rest of the time. After that first lunch, I had no worries about being alone. A couple of them became lifelong friends!

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.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Buddhism in Southeast Asia

Course Department: Faculty of Law
Instructor: Ajan Alan
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The teacher was extremely knowledgeable and passionate about his subject. He was always open to student discussion in class, and he provided many educational field trips for us. I would definitely take this class again.
Credit Transfer Issues: