Participating in the USAC Chiang Mai program was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Despite departing from Thailand four months ago I still think about my semester on a daily basis.
Thailand is known as the land of the smiles, and for good reason. Every person I met abroad, both Thai and 'farang', came equipped with an infectious smile and a welcoming heart. I always felt welcome as a foreigner, and I have never grown to love a location more than Chiang Mai.
The city has an ancient feel with old stone walls and magnificent temples on every corner. Scooters and motorbikes zip through the roads in orchestrated chaos. Delicious aromas from hundreds of food stalls waft through alleyways and fill the streets. Monks in orange robes inhabit local temples in search of enlightenment. Wild dogs saunter around picking up food scraps and lounging in the sun. CMU students walk leisurely to class in black skirts and pink ties. Happiness is thick in the air and permeates the heart and soul of all within Chiang Mai.
As far as the USAC program goes, I could not have asked for a more helpful staff and well put together program. On site staff members are available almost around the clock to answer any questions you may have, give useful advice, and welcome you to their country. They will pick you up at the airport, show you around the city, inform you of local customs, even remind you of important deadlines regarding your visa and academic paperwork. USAC also plans multiple excursions to amazing locations throughout the semester and promotes camaraderie between Thai & US students. One of my favorite aspects of the program was making friends with local Thai students. Without the support and direction of the USAC program, these friendships would have been difficult to create.
If you even the slightest bit interested in going to Thailand as part of this USAC program. DO IT. I promise you it will change your life and you will thank yourself for the leap of faith down the road.