Thailand is a truly phenomenal place and you'll fall in love with the people and the food! Thai people are so friendly and the KKU campus is huge so there's plenty to do without leaving for downtown. There's also a lot of free time so with a little planning, you can do lots of weekend trips all over! The program has very little structure and the academics are average but with a open mind and some motivation, you can make it a great experience.
Food: Street food is eaten at least once a day and is always delicious (though very spicy!). Foods like grilled pork, noodles, sticky rice, and green papaya salad are staples in this region of Thailand known as Isaan, but American foods like grilled chicken and burgers aren't hard to find (there one right across the street from the dorms).
Travel: Taxi is the best was to get around Khon Kaen, though you'll need to know a little bit of Thai. The university bus system is fairly reliable, though walking in the morning and evening isn't too hot. Each student shares a room with a Thai roommate, and they are a great resources fro information and to help you get places on their scooters. There's a cheap shuttle to the mall downtown that runs every 15-30 mins. Bangkok is a 6 hour bus ride down and is easy to navigate to and around. Chiang Mai is also not difficult to get to, but it's recommended you make the trips with other people if your Thai isn't strong. Flights around the country aren't expensive, but bus or train is always cheaper.
Khon Kaen: What great about Khon Kaen is it's not touristy, you'll find you're immersing in true Thai culture in the northeast region of the country. If you're looking to experience what South Asia Nice small city but KKU campus is basically its own town so you'll rarely leave unless going to U-bar (nightclub), the mall, or the grocery store. Bar street is less than a 1/4 mile from the dorm so you don't have to go far for casual drinks.
Academics: Thai class is taught separately (at the study center), but is definitely the best class! The class is interactive and engaging, the teachers are great, and you'll be surprised how well your Thai is in just a four months! There are even a few field trips. Public health classes are taught at the university (a 10 min walk to the bus stop and another 10 min bus ride). Coursework is quite easy, but not interesting or engaging. A few papers and some minor homework, but readings were practically optional so you get lots of free time ! The professors are great people and teachers, however, despite the small class sizes, classes were lecture style and quite long (one or two classes a day with a total of 3-5 hours of class). Many students studying public health in the US explained this program was not a good example of the subject. However, the CIEE and university faculty are very receptive to constructive feedback and are always there to meet and discuss the classes.
Studying abroad is an experience that requires you to learn how to adapt to a new culture, and Thailand is a perfect place for that! The smaller program size allows you to meet a diverse yet amazing group of American students while making new Thai friends who will show you the best the region. While the academics aren't strong, the CPH program has long weekends and many afternoons free for exploring and traveling around.