16 Reasons to Study Abroad in Thailand in 2016

by Marisa Tatiwong

Picking the country and program that is right for you is one of the most difficult parts about studying abroad. Previously, students flooded to study abroad programs throughout Europe with a certain understanding of what to expect based on what friends and family had told them or their own previous experience as a tourist. However, an increasing number of students recognize the potential opportunities that await them by choosing to travel halfway around the world and study abroad in less traditional places, like Thailand, to take advantage of opportunities not available to any typical tourist or average traveler.

Are you ready to immerse yourself in a completely unfamiliar culture and lifestyle, challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone, learn a brand new language, and discover the beauty of a country that carries a rich ancient history and quickly developing present? Then study abroad programs in Thailand may be the perfect fit for you.

Below you’ll find the best advice on why why studying abroad in Thailand is an incredible opportunity that you don’t want to miss out on in 2016. Your once-in-a-lifetime adventure in the “Land of Smiles” awaits you!

Students study the diverse eco-system of a mudflat in Southern Thailand

Students study the diverse eco-system of a mudflat in Southern Thailand

1. You will be able to explore diverse eco-systems not found anywhere else in the world.

From the mountains of the north to the oceans and islands of the south, Thailand is a beautiful country that offers the opportunity to explore an array of rich eco-systems. Nature lovers and environmental science majors alike will enjoy discovering the diverse interaction of living organisms and nonliving elements in the mudflats, forests, lowlands, and coral reefs throughout the country, just to name a few possibilities.

2. You will be able to indulge in delicious and exciting foods every single day.

Tempt your palate with Thailand’s breadth of cuisine that mixes spicy, sour, sweet, and salty flavors. Don’t forget to try something exotic like fried bamboo worms. Whether you eat at a local street stall or a fancy restaurant, Thai food is affordable on all budgets! There’s one thing for sure, you won’t go hungry during study abroad in Thailand.

3. You will be able to take advantage of convenient and affordable travel options.

Thailand is centrally located in Southeast Asia, where adventures are endless and traveling is easy and affordable. You’ll be able to spend your weekends and holiday breaks exploring everything Thailand has to offer, or even visit a neighboring country. Travel by plane, bus, train, or go more traditional and hire a tuk-tuk, rickshaw, or bicycle to get anywhere you want to go.

A girl and an elephant

Elephants are a key part of Thailand's history and culture.

4. You will be able to get up and close and personal with elephants.

As a significant part of Thai culture for centuries, elephants are presently a hot topic. Thailand provides hands-on opportunities to spend time learning about elephants in the context of conservation, tourism and their natural habitat. Some study abroad programs in Thailand even have courses that focus specifically on elephants!

5. You will be able to expand your understanding of Buddhism.

Buddhist beliefs and traditions are deeply integrated into the daily lives of Thais, as 98 percent of the population profess to follow the religion. As an international student in Thailand you’ll be able to sit in on a monk chat or visit temples to gain a deeper understanding of the role of Buddhism in Thai culture.

6. You will be able to truly embrace “The Land of Smiles”.

Thais are known for their genuine hospitality and their ear-to-ear smiles. However, a smile can signify more than just happiness. By living in Thailand for an extended period of time, you can test your skills at figuring out if a person is smiling due to joy, covering up embarrassment, trying to keep the peace, or using the expression for one of many other reasons.

7. You will have to opportunity to live with host families.

You can choose to experience Thailand first-hand by taking a backstage look into the lives of Thai families that will gladly welcome you into their homes. Find a study abroad program in Thailand that offers the irreplaceable opportunity for students to stay with a host family long-term or arrange your own short homestay for a weekend.

Thai natives weaving coconut leaves

Many families in Thailand take in students for a semester or shorter stint of time in order to exchange cultures and language.

8. You will be able to celebrate Thai holidays.

Your academic calendar is sure to be broken up by various Thai holidays! The two bigs ones are Loi Kratong and Songkran. Loi Kratong is a lantern festival, usually in November, and the sky lights up like a scene out of the movie “Tangled”.  Songkran, which is Thai New Year’s, runs from April 13th to 15th, and it is the largest three-day water fight you will ever see.

9. You will be able to develop foreign language skills.

Take advantage of Thai language classes while you are studying in Thailand, because you’ll quickly find yourself immersed in Thai language outside of the classroom. Try your hardest and you will learn not just about Thai grammar, but also gain a deeper understanding about the people who speak it. Language learning is a great way to make the most out of your study abroad experience in Thailand, test your brain, and build up your resume for when you need to apply for future jobs!

10. You will be able to immerse yourself in a new culture.

Thailand’s culture is rich and deep, and study abroad programs in Thailand with long standing connections to communities provide the opportunity for you to interact with locals in ways that you wouldn’t be able to as a tourist. Integrate yourself into communities during your study abroad program and you’ll experience first-hand the way Thais live. Additionally, Thailand is home to multiple indigenous communities, making it a fascinating and important place to study anthropology and the effects of modernization on local culture.

A Karen woman with foreign students

A Karen woman teaches students how to naturally dye string that will be woven into traditional clothes.

11. You will be able to embrace a slower pace of life.

Compared to the fast pace of life in the U.S., Thailand offers a slower rhythm since time is considered fluid. Spending quality time with the people you are with is considered more important than getting to your next appointment on time, and showing up late isn’t a problem when meeting friends. Take time to breath in deep and relax.

12. You will be able to forge lasting relationships.

Thais are extremely relational, and once you’re welcomed into a family or friendship with a Thai, it is forever. Students, especially those who stay with host families, can return to Thailand years after studying abroad and be welcomed into their host families’ and friends’ homes like they never left.

13. You will be able to experience life in a quickly developing country.

In between modern architecture and large shopping malls, historically significant Buddhist temples and other buildings are abundant! In the same way, a mixture of traditional and pop cultures is constantly showing through in the daily lives of Thais. During your time studying in Thailand, you’ll see various types and degrees of development happening as many aspects of Thai society are evolving at a quick pace.

14. You will be able to enjoy tropical weather almost year round.

Looking to escape the cold and feel the rays of the sun on your skin? Study abroad in Thailand offers exactly this with its pleasant tropical climate! The only decision you need to make is if you want to enjoy it while roaming the city, the jungle, or lounging on a white sandy beach in your free time. Remember to pack tons of sunscreen no matter what though!

Snorkeling in Thailand

The weather is perfect as students prepare to study the diverse ecosystem of the Andaman sea in southern Thailand by snorkeling the reefs.

15. You will be able to explore unparalleled markets.

Markets are a focal point of life in Thailand for locals and foreigners alike. You’ll find everything from unique handicrafts, Buddhist amulets, and food to beautiful art, trendy fashion accessories, and souvenirs. Chiang Mai Walking Street and Chatuchak Market are a couple of the most famous markets, but there are thousands of markets in Thailand that have something for everyone. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes for walking, and try your hand at bargaining as prices are usually meant to be negotiated.

16. You will be able to broaden your worldview.

Expand your worldview as you come to understand the Thai way of life. The cultural assumptions of most Thais is quite different from the paradigm that most international students grow up around. Therefore, the way reality is perceived, interpreted, and responded to is very different in Thailand.

While it is not easy to have your views challenged, by expanding your own worldview you will become a more informed citizen, marketable employee, and effective global leader!

Now that you have a glimpse into what study abroad in Thailand has to offer, come and experience all this and more hands-on! Your time studying abroad in the “Land of Smiles” will be a backstage pass into one of the most rich and diverse countries in the world, and an experience you will never forget.

This article was contributed by ISDSI, a hands-on and experiential educational institution based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Community-based learning is a hallmark of ISDSI courses and programs are designed in collaboration with local communities. ISDSI combines amazing expeditions into remote areas of Thailand with challenging academic material to help international students dive deep into new cultures and experiences during their time abroad.