Nicola - Mahidol University International College (MUIC)

B. Business Management / International Hotel Management
Semester 2, 2017

Academic experience

As a tourism and hospitality major, I found Mahidol University to be much more practical rather than theory oriented and the field trips were a great opportunity to see how the course content could be applied in a real life context.

During the semester I was able to visit hotels, a winery, a marketing business and a museum, and learning about their back of house operations was very valuable to my degree. As one of my electives I was able to take the Thai Language & Culture course and I found this very useful in helping me to learn some transactional phrases which were very useful for ordering food, shopping and directing taxi drivers.

Personal experience

Outside of the classroom, Thailand provided a vast number of new experiences and, being a major hub of SE Asia, I was able to take many cheap weekend trips to various parts of Thailand as well as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar - all of which I have very fond memories of and enabled me to learn a lot more about the cultures than what you can learn from a textbook.

I made many new friends during the semester - both with the local Thai students and with other international students and I now look forward to visiting friends all over the world. 

Accommodation

I lived in Baan Suan Apartment which is an off-campus accommodation housing both local and international students. Most of the other exchange students stayed at a different apartment nearby; however, I really enjoyed the one I was at as I found it gave me a much more authentic, local experience. The staff there were so lovely and always willing to help us out.

My university was really helpful in helping me find accommodation and listing the options available so I would say go with what they offer. It was a hard decision for me to choose between the 2 available options as I didn't know a whole lot about either however I searched the names of them on Facebook and ended up stumbling across a post someone had written in an exchange group also asking about the 2. From there I was able to message a couple of people and get direct advice/opinions which I found to be really helpful in making a decision, so just have a look and see what information you can find.

Budget

The cost of living in Thailand, especially coming from an expensive country such as Australia, is incredibly cheap. My rent was only $300 a month which is considerably lower than what I pay on rent whilst at UQ. This meant that I was able to use my savings on more exciting things such as travelling around Thailand and nearby countries.

For food, the average meal is around $2 (obviously if you want to eat at nicer restaurants it will cost more but the most I spent on a meal would have probably been around $10 and that is considered to be quite expensive). In more touristy areas the food is a little more expensive; however, around the uni area, all my meals were mostly less than $2.

Professional development and employability

My semester abroad in Bangkok was an incredible experience both academically and culturally. For me personally, one of the hardest things to get used to was how laid back everyone is - as a person who likes to plan everything out it was sometimes a struggle to be so spontaneous however what I have learnt from being on exchange is how important it is to be flexible and to adapt to other cultures and their ways of life and this is something which I believe will help me a lot in the future, especially since I plan on living and working abroad.

Highlight

The highlight of my experience would definitely have to be the Thai people (and also the food).

I'm not going to say it was all smooth sailing - of course there were ups and downs, the language barrier was sometimes frustrating but the Thai are some of the friendliest and most hospitable people you will ever meet and will always go out of their way to help you and make sure everything is ok even if they don't really understand what you are saying. If I ever looked lost, someone would be sure to come over and help point me in the right direction or guide me in the direction of someone who may be able to help me.

In addition to this, I really loved being immersed in a culture so different to Australia and being able to observe a completely different way of life.

Top tips

Before I left for my exchange semester I had a lot of people questioning why I would choose to study abroad in Thailand.

The reason: I was presented with an opportunity and I took it! I understood where people were coming from with their question because Thailand is not a destination commonly associated with study abroad, however I wanted to go somewhere which would put me out of my comfort zone and looking back on my semester, I am so glad I went with Thailand. 

For anyone thinking about doing an exchange semester I have only one word of advice: GO!!

It's the opportunity of a lifetime and the knowledge, experience and new friends you will gain from it are invaluable. Don't think twice about it - 3 months flies by and before you know it it's time to leave and you'll be wishing you could stay longer!