Alexander - Chulalongkorn University

B. Communications

Academic experience

During my semester at Chulalongkorn I studied Thai Culture for Communication, Society and Culture, Radio Production, Still Photography Management and Print Media Technology. What really took me about Chulalongkorn was the calibre of industry professionals the university was able to attract as lecturers, such as world renown news photographer Nic Dunlop or famous Thai publisher, radio and television personality and producer, Manoch Puttal.

Initially, I felt slight trepidation at the fact that we had to wear uniforms to university, however that was quickly dispelled and I found that the uniform distinguished us from the regular tourists and was highly regarded (there was some flexibility in the dress regulations with jeans acceptable). There was also a much greater 'school spirit' and sense of belonging within the university with the freshmen students performing a three-week 'induction' ritual called 'Roon Pee', as well as interfaculty and university competitions.

While the academic system there seemed less rigid and structured, it also seemed to foster a high level of creativity, particularly within the Comm-Arts faculty. On any given day a stroll around the university revealed the many activities going on and the wondrous projects being constructed by the students.

Of course there are challenges and some degree of culture shock when moving to a foreign country, particularly a non English speaking country, however, these soon subside and before long you find yourself revelling in the local culture. I found the pre-departure advice given by UQ Abroad to be invaluable in dealing with the unavoidable culture shock. Most importantly, you have a whole support network in your fellow exchange students from around the world and in the staff at the university (and at UQ Abroad of course).

Personal experience

Where to begin? I cannot extol the merits of exchange study enough. Even as a very mature student, it was the experience of a lifetime and one that few get the opportunity to have. Student exchange will broaden your worldview, expose you to new cultures, bring you out of your comfort zone and out of your shell. 

You will forge friendships that will endure long after the exchange has ended and learn personal skills that will serve you for the rest of your days.

Accommodation

I lived off-campus as there were no single rooms available on-campus and being a mature student I felt I needed the privacy of my own room. On arriving in Bangkok I initially stayed in a hotel just as a temporary arrangement, however, the people there were lovely and treated me as family, thus I decided to stay on there as there is something to be said for honest locals that will look out for you. 

However. while I was lucky to find such lovely people, I would have to recommend living on campus for many reasons, namely that you have the support and comradery of the fellow exchange students.

Budget

While Thailand is relatively cheap to live, you can certainly go through money quickly if you want to travel or are not careful. The best advice is to eat the local food as it is always cheaper than western food and try to eat your meals in the university eateries as they are amazingly cheap at only 30 baht (about $1.20) for a plate of food.

Professional development and employability

While Thailand is relatively cheap to live, you can certainly go through money quickly if you want to travel or are not careful. The best advice is to eat the local food as it is always cheaper than western food and try to eat your meals in the university eateries as they are amazingly cheap at only 30 baht (about $1.20) for a plate of food.

Highlight

The highlight of my experience was with the people I met and friends that I made. In particular, being invited into the home of a local Thai family to take food with them and photograph their daily life.

Top tips

To quote the immortal words of Shia LeBeouf, "Just do it". Seriously, it is the experience of a lifetime.

Alexander - Chulalongkorn University