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Education Abroad Network: Study in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Asha Jackson is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is currently in her senior year as a sociology major / photography
minor at Marymount Manhattan College in NYC. She loves guacamole, exploring new places and dancing.
When: Fall of 2011
Highlights: Academically, my studies and professors were imperative in helping me to understand the atmosphere I was living in. They helped mold a well rounded perspective for my trip by helping me understand what was happening in the world around me. Outside of academics, I think the lessons I learned through experience and the people I met, all helped me become a well rounded global citizen who is unafraid and ready for anything!
Morning: My typical morning in both Thailand and Cambodia centered around classes. We had class everyday from morning to early afternoon monday through friday. I took Thai History, Politics and Language class in Chiang Mai and Khmer language and Gender and Development in Cambodia in Phnom Penh.
Afternoon: In Thailand in the afternoons, I would hang around on Payap University's spacious and beautiful campus in the hills of Chiang Mai. I used that time mostly to get to know Thai students and the other international students better. In Cambodia, there were only 3 people in our program and we lived in an apartment, so we used that time to explore Phnom Penh on our bikes as provided by the Education Abroad Network.
Evening: Throughout the trip, most evenings I read or wrote in my journal, if i wasn't studying or doing homework. Although on the weekends, I would take advantage of the nightlife, which included everything from bowling to shopping at night markets, to going out to eat.
Gabriela Corbera is from Taunton, Massachusetts and currently is a Senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst studying both Political Science and Sociology. She enjoys traveling, reading, and writing, and photography. Aside from this, Gabriela is a firm lover of Southeast Asian culture and Southeast Asian cuisine.
When: Fall of 2011
Highlights: The biggest highlight of living in Thailand was the cultural immersion that was provided through my program. Aside from interesting academic classes from Thai Culture Studies, Thai Language, and even Politics, our program allowed us to learn outside the classroom through various embedded excursions. From village stays to weekend trips to the ruins of Sukothai and Ayutthaya, feel like I saw a lot more than an average tourist. It was staying in Thailand that allows one to meet more people, and really learn what it's like to be a local. Aside from having Thailand as my classroom, some of the memories I am most fond of are my trips to the islands of Thailand - Krabi, Koh Phi Phi, Raillay Beach, and a 3 day trip to Cambodia. Overall, I can say that an experience in Southeast Asia is unique and enlightening. My goal was to be enlightened when I went abroad, and I can assure that with its unique culture, traditions, and norms-you do.
Morning: As a university student in the city of Chiang Mai, my days typically began with a morning breakfast at the PIH (Paradornparp International House) catered as buffet style where I would typically drench my plate with fresh cut pineapple and watermelon slice. Then, I would either take the Sky Blue Train to class or walk along the beautiful campus of Payap University. Usually tried to get there a few minutes earlier to not miss the next Culture Class, Thai Class, or Politics class. As one can imagine, Thai Class was probably one of the funnest to partake in as it would give us the skills and tools needed to really engage with the people and the local life.
Afternoon: While my morning was enriched with productive learning, my afternoons were typically spent studying in the upstairs lounge of PIH or in the corners of Tapae Gate where one could usually splurge themselves with an occasional Banana Roti caramelized or sugar filled, or with fresh cut mango and sticky rice dish. However, to fill the rare Western craves, that do exist believe it or not in Southeast Asia, Starbucks near Tapae would just about do the trick. Some iced coffee or caramel machiatto accompanied with some enriching reads on the area. It was understanding more about the culture, the people, that would give me the confidence to step outside the text and want to engage. Gave me questions, something to talk about aside from "What do Thais like to do?." One's interest in these topics would spark some great and at times rather dangerous conversations. But my favorite afternoons, were probably Mondays where Payap University provided me a space to teach and share Zumba Fitness. Yepp-that was definitely my favorite afternoons!
Evening: On evenings, on weekends in particular, the Sunday Market is where you could find me as well as most students at PIH. Selling from hand crafted earrings to furnished Buddha statuettes, Chiang Mai Sunday Market was the place to be. Khanoms for a mere 20 baht (less than a dollar), snacking through the walk was a common. An occasional drink or cocktail on the side rested bars with some live music from "passing through" artists, my evenings in Chiang Mai were certainly lively ones. However, some of the evenings I remember most were those spent with the Education Abroad Network group and Tour Guide - Kai Plertsukon bringing us the most local of local restaurants we could get. Wine, exquisite cuisine, and a water view that was to die for.
Western restaurants are cool, and so are the Western coffee shops, but there is nothing like the local places where one really gets to interact with its people. The exchange is quite something, and pretty rewarding I must say! Chiang Mai is a beautiful place, feel so fortunate for it being a time of my life, so hope others get to experience all of its parts.
Brynne Shannon is from Aiken, South Carolina, currently studies Communication at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. She studied in Chiang Mai through The Education Abroad Network (TEAN) from January-May 2013. Brynne loves writing, taking pictures and has a huge case of the travel bug.
Why did you decide to study abroad with TEAN?
Brynne: Once I was set on the location, I researched a handful of programs that were offered throughout Thailand. I was instantly drawn to TEAN because it stood out from the other programs I was looking into. What makes TEAN so unique is that it provides its students with a fantastic balance of structure and independence. You are guaranteed housing and have planned (included) activities throughout the semester, but you are still able to do things on your own without feeling overwhelmed. I also loved the Thai roommate component that this program offers.
TEAN pairs each student with a local university student to not only help orient them around the city, but to provide them with an authentic inside-look into their amazing culture. I really, really loved this; we all became so close with each other over the course of the semester and really became a small, international family. Another huge draw to TEAN was the cost of the program as well as the activities and excursions that are included throughout the semester--spending a day in an elephant nature park, taking an organic Thai cooking class, touring the crazy city of Bangkok and more. TEAN packs in a variety of amazing activities that make for an unforgettable, life changing semester abroad.
What was the best place you visited outside of your study abroad city?
Brynne: It's hard to choose! I went many places in Northern Thailand and even to neighboring countries, including Vietnam and Laos, but I'd have to say my favorite place was a small town in Northern Thailand named Pai. It's known for its backpacker scene, but people from all over Thailand and other parts of the world visit there. It's nestled in the mountains of Northern Thailand and has some seriously beautiful surrounding scenery including rivers, waterfalls, and the infamously vibrant green rice fields. It was my favorite place not only because of its natural beauty, but because of its extremely friendly and laid-back atmosphere--I met some amazing people during my stay here!
What is one piece of advice you'd give future TEAN-Thailand students?
Brynne: I would absolutely recommend taking advantage of the volunteer opportunities that TEAN offers in this program. Some of these include teaching English to novice monks or helping out at a local orphanage. I decided not to volunteer while I was abroad, and, looking back, I really regret not doing so. Some of my friends in the program volunteered at a monastery and claim it to be a truly life changing experience.
Describe your favorite must-have food that you tried abroad.
Brynne: Khao Soi! It's a Northern Thai curry that is very difficult to find in the South, so I definitely recommend that people try it whenever they're in Northern Thailand. It's a spicy yellow curry with egg noodles, meat of your choice, and mixed veggies with crunchy wontons and a sprinkle of cilantro on top. I crave it every day! You really can't go wrong with Thai food.
Katy Baker is from Cohasset, Massachusetts and currently studies communication at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. Katy studied in Chiang Mai, Thailand through the Education Abroad Network from August-December 2012. Katy loves sailing, photography and traveling.
GO: Why did you decide to study with TEAN?
Katy: One aspect that truly sets TEAN apart other programs is the balance it provides it's students. Throughout the semester, TEAN provided enrichment opportunities such as the orientation in Bangkok as well as field trips and monthly dinners. However, students were encouraged to travel, explore and to get involved in the community. TEAN offered volunteer opportunities including working in a Thai orphanage, teaching english in a local school and teaching english to Buddhist monks. Not only did I take advantage of this resource by volunteering at a Thai orphanage, I also explored one of my interests by getting involved with an organization in Chiang Mai teaching English to displaced Burmese people. I also traveled to five countries in Southeast Asia as well as the different regions of Thailand. The opportunities and support TEAN provided, coupled with the overall freedom is what sets this program above all others, hence the reason I chose to travel through TEAN.
GO: What made this study abroad experience unique and special?
Katy: I wanted to travel somewhere that would push me outside of my comfort zone. Needless to say, I accomplished this and more through my time in Thailand. Upon my arrival in Bangkok, I was immediately thrust into a culture seeped in tradition and values unlike what I have experienced in Western countries. Although much of communication consisted of "tinglish" (broken Thai and English) and hand gestures, I have come to appreciate the humility and kindness inherent in interactions with locals. The curiosity we had about the culture turned into a great appreciation and connection to the people. I still feel this connection half way around the world, truly illustrating the uniqueness of my experience.
GO: How has this experience impacted your future?
Katy: Traveling has always been a passion of mine. This experience has not only deepened this passion, but it has shaped the direction of my career aspirations. I have now seen a different side of the world, but I have not seen enough. I now measure success in experiences. The independence and confidence I have gained from my time abroad is something I will be forever grateful and I look forward to utilizing these skills in my future travels.
GO: Why did you decide to study abroad with TEAN at Payap University?
Asha: I was immediately attracted to TEAN because it had such a unique program. Not many programs exist in south east Asia, especially in Cambodia, and TEAN was also the only program that offered a dual program in both Thailand and Cambodia. The price was also affordable, and provided a lot of resources, supplies and excursions that enhanced my semester abroad. Also immediately after inquiring about their program I was contacted by Rachel Dorsey, and she patiently helped me with my application process from start to finish.
GO: What made your study abroad experience unique and special?
Asha: Honestly, I didn't know much about south east Asia before studying there. Other than Thai food and America's war with Vietnam, I was ignorant to the rich history and culture of the region. My experience helped open my eyes to an area of the world that gets little recognition for it's cultural and historical significance. It's so different from America in so many ways, and I wouldn't have been able to understand the scope of how diverse our world is without visiting and seeing it for myself. Their way of life is ancient, thousands of years older than the US, yet has been preserved and still remains vital to their people today. It's just such an interesting dynamic, coming from such a young country primarily influenced by western European cultures.
GO: How has this experience impacted your future?
Asha: Studying abroad has helped me feel capable of any and every thing. I am so sure of myself and who I am and what I stand for, I feel invincible! At the same time, I also feel more aware of the world I live in and everyone's role in it. I've always considered myself a person open to diversity, but this experience proves my ability and desire to be interested in things and people vastly different than I. The relationships I've built attest to that, and show me how harmonious opposites can be when they attract. Professionally, I know now that travel is something I'd love to incorporate into my career if possible, especially if it promotes the importance of travel to other Americans.
About Education Abroad Network
The Education Abroad Network is a relatively small and innovative organization that thrives on giving each and every student deserved personal attention, extensive program preparation, and quick answers to every question under the sun. Creating partnerships with many of the best universities in the Asia Pacific has allowed The Education Abroad Network to become experts at planning and delivering programs in the region. Dedicated and experienced staff provide unparalleled individual service every step of the way. Online applications, extensive pre-departure consultations, in-country orientations, on-site resident directors, cultural excursions, and high quality accommodations provide for the ultimate experience abroad. Check out one of the many awesome programs below, and visit The Education Abroad Network's website to make your study abroad dream a reality!