Location
  • Thailand
    • Chiang Mai
Term
Academic Year, Fall, Spring, Summer
Subject Areas
Anthropology Economics Finance Food Science and Nutrition International Business International Relations Philosophy Sociology Sustainable Development
Need-based funding, Merit-based funding, General grants/scholarships
Health & Safety

Program Details

Program Type
Provider
Housing
Apartment
Language
English
Oct 04, 2023
Dec 15, 2023
8 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

USAC has teamed up with Chiang Mai University to offer students the chance to study abroad in Thailand! Students interested in Asian-Pacific Rim Economics, Politics, and Culture Studies will have the chance to pursue studies in those topics along with much more, including Thai language courses.

Studying in Chiang Mai places students right in the center of Thai trade and tourism. The opportunity to explore the "Land of Smiles" is right around the corner as well, with multiple planned excursions throughout the trip. Sign up today with USAC to start planning for an unforgettable experience in Chiang Mai, Thailand!

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

LGBTQIA+ Support

There are LGBTQIA+ friends, colleagues, and allies throughout the world. However, cultural understanding of gender identity and sexuality does vary from country to country. USAC has compiled a lot of resources to help you through that learning process.

Accessibility Support

USAC is dedicated to working closely with students with disabilities to ensure the best study abroad experience possible. You may request reasonable accommodations after your initial application is complete. We routinely receive requests for scheduling, material, and environmental accommodations for the classroom setting, which may include assistive technology, scribes and readers, printed material, and interpretation.

Impact

Sustainability

Environmentally-conscious students choose USAC because many of our programs are held in some of the most sustainable countries in the world. There are options to take coursework in sustainability and the environment, as well as field trips and studies where students can leave a lasting impact on their host country.

Program Highlights

  • Experience the charm of exotic and ancient culture while you live and study in a center of Thai trade, tourism, and academic activity
  • Enjoy a wide range of field trips, including a field study with the Karen Hill Tribe people, as well as elephant riding and bamboo rafting
  • Explore the "land of smiles" and real Buddhism in a country that is 95% Buddhist
  • Visit lovely mountain regions featuring rivers, rain forests, national parks, nature preserves, and tea and coffee plantations

Scholarships

USAC logo

USAC Scholarships and Financial Aid

USAC awards over $2 million in scholarships and discounts each year to assist students with their study abroad expenses.

Value
$500 - $5,000

Program Dates

Application Deadline
Program Dates
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Program Reviews

4.78 Rating
based on 32 reviews
  • 5 rating 81.25%
  • 4 rating 15.63%
  • 3 rating 3.13%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Academics 3.85
  • Support 4.6
  • Fun 4.8
  • Housing 4.45
  • Safety 4.9
Showing 1 - 8 of 32 reviews
Default avatar
Tia
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Just DO IT!

During my junior year of college, I was deciding where I wanted to study abroad and I was scrolling through photos of Thailand. I came across pictures of Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand. I read about the symbolism behind the temple, how it represented the need to get rid of material possessions, attachments, greed, and desire to achieve true happiness and Nirvana. I instantly knew this was where I was destined to go to study abroad.

I decided to study abroad in Thailand because I had a huge interest in connecting more deeply with my Hmong roots, learning about Thai culture and the Thai language, healing, growing, and traveling. My parents are refugees from Laos and were in Thai refugee camps, so I always felt a sense of longing for this second home. Growing up in a predominantly white community of Spokane, Washington, I grew up being stared at, judged, and harassed simply for being Asian. I was made to feel like an outsider and perpetual foreigner when I was called a “chink,” constantly asked, “Where are you really from?” and was shouted at more than a few times, “Go back to where you came from!” I heard from two of my Asian American friends that they really enjoyed studying abroad in Thailand and felt so welcome there. That sense of belonging and inclusion was a feeling I had been desperately searching for my entire life. With the help of my study abroad office at Gonzaga University, I applied to the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) program in Chiang Mai, Thailand for the Spring 2023 semester.

In Thailand, it was funny how many Thai people would assume that I was Thai and would start speaking to me quickly in Thai. I would have to throw up my hands and explain in Thai, “Sorry, I only speak Thai a little bit,” to which they would usually reply with, “Wow, I’m surprised because you look Thai,” or “You speak it so well.” It was an oddly comforting feeling to be mistaken for being Thai because in the US, I often was seen as a foreigner in my own home country. I finally felt like I fit in, belonged, and wasn’t being judged for the way I looked. I was accepted and seen as just the same as everyone else, which was a sense of belonging that I had been searching for for a very long time. I enjoyed connecting with Hmong people at markets, at my university (Chiang Mai University), and randomly while traveling throughout Thailand. I loved having two Hmong friends who are from Wisconsin who became like family to me while I was abroad. As a Hmong-American woman, I felt privileged to get the opportunity to learn more about my Hmong people and culture in the “Highland Ethnic Peoples and Social Transformation of Northern Thailand” class. I felt grateful that I got to meet and learn from my uncle, who is a professor at CMU, and who taught me a new perspective on how Hmong people are part of a larger international Indigenous struggle and movement. For my final project in that class, I analyzed how Hmong people and other Indigenous communities in Thailand are fighting for Indigenous rights, recognition, and citizenship.

One of my favorite things I did was visit Buddhist temples all around Thailand. The temples were stunning with gorgeous artwork and immaculate details. I especially loved the fun popular culture references inside of Wat Rong Khun. I also enjoyed meditating at waterfalls and hot springs because of the great sense of peace and relaxation I would feel. I loved cafe-hopping with friends, and studying together with fun music and delicious food and drinks. I enjoyed hiking at Doi Inthanon National Park because I watched the sunrise with friends, and met a few elderly Hmong tour guides along the hike, being greeted like family. I also enjoyed hiking with my friends and a Karen tour guide in northern Chiang Mai, then stayed overnight at a Karen village. It was fun cooking with the family and getting a hand-tying blessing from the village shaman. Another main highlight was speaking with Karen man in four languages, English, Thai, Hmong, and Karen. I don’t speak Thai, Karen, or Hmong fluently, but it was fun practicing with him and teaching him some basic Hmong. I also loved relaxing on the beaches, swimming, and snorkeling in Krabi, Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, and Phuket. The water was so clear and stunning. I truly felt like I was in paradise.

There are three key takeaways from my study abroad trip:

1) It’s OK to be suspended in uncertainty. I thought that I would be ready for a master’s or doctorate program right after undergrad, but I felt exhausted and burnt out from six years of college (two years of Running Start and four years at Gonzaga University), so I felt like I wouldn’t be able to give my all and I didn’t feel ready. While meditating in Thailand, I felt this calling to just continue exploring and finding what’s best for me along that journey. The possibilities are endless. I learned that I should not confine myself and limit my dreams. I am currently suspended in uncertainty and that’s OK with me.

2) Be open to everything and attached to nothing. I learned that it is helpful for me to not get attached to the outcome of situations. Through meditation and learning more about Buddhism, I learned the value of letting go of attachments to let go of unnecessary suffering. I also learned it’s helpful to accept the reality of things to protect my peace of mind. Keeping an open mind will help me in my future adventures, jobs, and interactions. I learned that the universe will present me with the right people and opportunities at the right time if I keep an open mind and remain open to new experiences.

3) It’s OK to just be. I have always strived to learn, unlearn, and relearn. While growth is important to me, I also have to accept the reality that I am enough just for being me and simply for existing.

Although I believe it’s usually uncommon for seniors to study abroad during their last semester, I knew I wanted to take this leap to go on an incredible journey and dip my toes into traveling internationally. I knew that it would be less daunting to start traveling internationally when I had a support network and guidance from my study abroad program. In my freshman year, I would have never thought I would be traveling abroad my senior year and making my dreams come true by living in Thailand. I am more open to possibilities and am seeing where the wind takes me rather than trying to force a certain path. I am taking time to just travel currently without any school or work, just simply quietly existing and traveling throughout Asia for a few months. I need to do this for myself. So much of my life, I have spent on living for others and seeking external validation. But now, I can finally say I am working on living for myself more, while still trying my best to balance supporting my friends, family, and community back home with healthy boundaries. Through USAC, I was able to build the confidence and courage to continue traveling abroad in Asia for 6 months after the program ended! I was able to solo travel for 6 months, visiting a total of 8 countries this year -- Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

I am thankful that I studied abroad during my senior year because I was able to celebrate the end of my college journey by living in a new country and expanding my perspective immensely. Overall, studying abroad in Thailand with the help of USAC was a great opportunity to start my traveling journey. I am so grateful to USAC for allowing me to deepen my understanding of my Hmong culture, make new friends from around the world, and grow as a person emotionally, spiritually, and culturally.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Celebrating the Songkran festival in Bangkok was a main highlight! The Songkran festival marks the beginning of the Thai New Year and it is known as the “world’s biggest water fight.” The festival includes water to represent cleansing to bring good fortune. Appreciation of family is another important aspect of the festival, with many Thai people making their way to their hometowns to spend time with older relatives. Splashing others with buckets of water and having water fights in the sweltering heat was so fun, especially on the popular Silom Road. Songkran is my new favorite holiday!
Pros
  • Incredible hikes, parks, islands, and waterfalls.
  • Visiting gorgeous, immaculate temples.
  • Shopping at affordable and fun, lively night markets in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Krabi and Phuket.
11 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Celissa
4/5
Yes, I recommend this program

The Memories I'll Hold Forever

I was nervous to study abroad in Thailand for 6 weeks but I'm glad I had friends and family encouraging me along with my college study abroad advisor's and USAC advisor's. This trip wouldn't of happened without their support and help. During my time in Thailand, I got to visit all the places I dreamed of: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket, and Bangkok. I got to see Elephants and take care of them. I got to try so many new dishes. And I meet so many new people who are now my friends. We all got close quickly, us USAC Goers and the "Thai Buddies" who were apart of the program. We all got to learn from one another and had the best times. The memories with them of walking in the rain, watching the premiere of Barbie, giving the Elephants a mud bath, chilling in the USAC lounge room, going to the Sunday Night Market and much more, are the memories I'll hold forever. I still talk my best friend's ear off about all the things we did. It was definitely the best thing I ever did in life so far!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The most surprising thing I saw was the traffic life in Thailand. I learn that to cross the streets you just go and signal with a hand that you are crossing.
Pros
  • Fun
  • Unique
  • Cultural Experience
Cons
  • Miscommunication (but it happens, just try your best)
15 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Ivy
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Ready to go back

I had a wonderful time in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Studying abroad in Thailand has expanded my cultural competence and my perspectives beyond Western and Eurocentric outlooks. The program staff are amazing and go above and beyond to be accommodating. There are also ample USAC weekend programs to participate in, as well as traveling on your own or with friends. Chiang Mai is a happy medium compared to the big busy city of Bangkok and rural Thailand. Chiang Mai has a piece of my heart and there is no doubt I will be back.

Pros
  • The locals are very kind
  • Thailand has big cities, mountains, and the islands
  • Chiang Mai has a great variety of Thai food as well as other cultural foods
Cons
  • Air pollution
  • Crossing streets
17 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Audrey
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing Experience in Chiang Mai, Thailand!

At first I was extremely hesitant about studying abroad because of my anxieties, but I decided that it would be a good experience to live in a different country where I was able to receive an abundance of support from my program. It was single-handedly the best decision I have ever made. I had so much fun making lifelong friendships, exploring a new city, learning about Thai culture, and so much more! By the end I was so sad to leave because of how acclimated I was to living in Thailand. I now feel confident in my future plans of living abroad and have gained many skills in navigating new experiences. I highly recommend studying abroad to anyone who is able to!

Pros
  • Acceptance and friendliness of the local Thai people
  • Amazing food options for cheaper prices than the U.S.
  • Beautiful Buddhist temples and nature landscapes
Cons
  • Very hot and humid and pours rain in the wet season
  • There was no kitchen in my dorm facility so I could never cook my own meals
20 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Alexa
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

5 weeks well spent

Going to Thailand through USAC is one of the things I'll never regret! I love how close I was able to get to the Thai students there, and how they helped me immerse myself in Thai culture. In addition to the add-on trips like the elephant tour and field tribe study, the Chiang Mai staff helped us organize weekend trips to Bangkok and Chiang Rai. I was able to see the mountains, beaches and cities! I also loved how I was able to meet other students in the U.S., not only do I have friends in Thailand but all around the U.S. as well!

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Lots of different cuisines
Cons
  • Hot weather
26 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Paulina
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

My Time in Thailand

I studied abroad in Chiang Mai to participate in the Chinese studies program. I’d originally planned on doing USAC’s program in Chengdu, China, which got canceled. USAC recommended this program as another option, and I am glad that I decided to participate.

I not only improved my Mandarin speaking and reading skills, but also learned about a new culture and made many lasting friendships. I was not ready to leave by the end of it and would go back in a heartbeat! Highly recommend this program/group!

31 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Cleo
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible

My experience in Thailand was incredible, I felt so supported by the program and by those I met along the way. It was by far the best decision I've made in my entire life. I met some of the most amazing people who will now be my lifelong friends, went to some of the most beautiful places on this planet, and learned a new way of life that I would've never been exposed to if hadn't done this journey. It's also extremely easy to travel around Thailand and surrounding countries and you'll meet plenty of similar travelers along the way and make beautiful connections.

Pros
  • Extremely safe, kind people
  • Easy access to travel around
  • Cheap and affordable
Cons
  • Food poisoning
  • Smoke season
  • One time entry Visa
41 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Nick
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

An incredible experience

When I entered college I knew that I wanted to study abroad at some point. However, I never imagined that I would have found myself going all the way across the world to Thailand. It was the kind of USAC staff that showed me what their program had to offer that convinced me to take the trip. I am thankful to them as my time in Thailand was an incredible experience and generated memories that will stay with me for a lifetime. If you are looking for a truly out-there, incredible experience the USAC Thailand program provides this and more.

Pros
  • Extremely affordable living
  • Great field experiences
  • Never felt unsafe
Cons
  • Very rainy during the fall semester
  • Housing is nothing too special
  • More of a neutral point, but classes are once a week for 2.5 hours rather than twice a week for 75 minutes
37 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers

Uh oh, we couldn't find the exact answer either! We did find some general housing information that can be found here: https://usac.edu/study-abroad-programs/thailand/chiang-mai/…