Why Study Abroad in Thailand? Q&A with Current Student

Chemistry student, Haley Young ’19 is currently studying abroad in Bangkok, Thailand with CISabroad. Check out this Q&A with Haley to learn more about why she choose to study abroad in Thailand, her classes abroad, and why she thinks everyone should study abroad!

Study Abroad Questions

Q. Why did you chose to study abroad?

A. I chose to study abroad because I have never left the east coast of the United States. I wanted to get out and experience something different. I wanted to develop skills such as cultural sensitivity and the independence you can only get when living in a foreign country. These are skills I can bring back to the States and incorporate into my daily life. As a student, studying abroad is a unique opportunity because I get to live in the country with locals. It is one of the cheapest opportunities I will ever have to travel and live abroad.

Q. Why did you chose to study abroad in Thailand?

A. While looking at the study abroad programs, Thailand just caught my eye. Living in Southeast Asia really is a unique experience, because the lifestyle is so different from the United States. The food, practices, and landscape are all very exotic. The northern part of the country is home to Asian elephants and large mountains while the southern islands have clear blue water and incredibly large cliffs along the beaches.

Q. What do you hope to accomplish while abroad/have already accomplished abroad?

A. I feel as if I have made some significant personal accomplishments while abroad. I worked up enough courage to do a few solo trips around Thailand and even in other countries like Vietnam and Cambodia. I got away from the large cities and explored more rural areas where I could see the truly authentic lifestyles of the people. Besides seeing the beautiful countryside of rice paddies and limestone cliffs, I learned why Thailand is nicknamed the “Land of Smiles.” I have had locals who are strangers invite me to their table for a traditional family style dinner. These are the moments when I can practice speaking Thai and develop my language skills. I never realized how well I knew the language until I was in an area where no one spoke English. I felt successful when I could communicate in Thai to order a meal or ask for directions. I have also made friends with Thai students who know the ins and outs of the city. With their help, I feel as if I have gotten under the surface of the city. I learned what the best foods are, the best places to go, and how to bargain at the many markets.

Q. How you hope your study abroad experiences impact your personal and academic goals?

A. Personally, I hope to take away some of the qualities that are emphasized in the Thai culture. Respect and mindfulness are two of the big ones. Respecting others and their practices are very important for inclusivity, and I hope to shine a positive light on Asian cultures when I return to the States. As for being mindful, I cannot count how many times I have seen someone give up their seat on the bus to a monk or an elderly person. The Thai people are very good about offering help when someone looks like they need it.

Academically, I hope to apply a larger perspective to everything I do. I can now visualize how chemistry could help the world outside of the United States. I’ve opened my global-mind and I’m not opposed to traveling to other countries for graduate school, or my future career.

Q. Why it is important for others to study abroad/support study abroad?

A. I think it is important for others to study abroad and experience the education, culture, and lifestyles of other countries. You can make lasting memories from many new and exciting adventures. Studying abroad increases your awareness of problems in other countries and allows you to view the world or people from different perspectives. Being in a different environment presents challenges that you can’t learn to overcome anywhere else. Being abroad really is a rewarding experience, and connecting with new friends makes it even better.


Questions about the Study Abroad Program & Academics


Q. Can you tell me about your formal studies abroad? 

A. I am taking four classes here- Developmental Psychology, Mass Communications, Intro to Thai Language and Culture, and Biochemistry. Classes are mainly made up of Thai students and the teachers can be Thai or Foreign. I would recommend the Thai Language class to anyone studying abroad in Thailand. The course focused on learning only how to speak Thai. How to order food, bargain at markets, ask for directions, and introducing yourself.

Q. How is it different than E-town?

A. Classes are traditionally two hours long for twice a week. I scheduled all of my classes on Tues and Thurs so I could travel on the weekends. Although my school days are long (8 am to 4 pm), I had lots of opportunities to explore the country itself. In my experience, there were less assignments in the classes than at E-town. This means my exam grades had more weight on my final grade. The general education classes were a bit larger than E-town’s classes, but major specific classes (like Biochemistry) were much smaller.

Q. Are you in a Thai school? 

A. I am studying at Mahidol University International College. The international school is just one of the many segments the university has. Because I attend the international school, the classes were taught in English. The international college is known for its challenging business and computer science classes.

Q. Are you studying chemistry there? 

A. I am taking Biochemistry II lecture here at Mahidol. The professor was a young woman who used several teaching styles- lecture, student presentations, videos, and worksheets. Although the individual classes were not as engaging as Dr. Hagan is at E-town, the exams proved to be challenging. The class had six students, four Thai students and two international students.

Q. And, what are your plans post-graduation?

A. I plan to go to graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in bio-organic chemistry. I would then like to work with an industrial company doing chemistry research that has sustainable biological applications.

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