Advice for Future Students

Sawatee Krup future Thailand scholars,

My name is Keng.  Before we begin, I would like to congratulate you on your acceptance and participation in the Study Abroad program to Thailand.  You are in great hands with Acharn Catherine and Acharn Jill. There expertise and experience in Thailand will help make your trip enjoyable and educational. With that out of the way, there are a few items you should definitely bring with you on this remarkable journey along with a few closing statements and tips.

Items to bring

1. Smartphone or cellphone.

I am sure most of you will have some sort of smart phone. Although you will need it much in Thailand, they are helpful. They can serve as a camera, a MP3 or MP4, a gaming system, a phone, a way to connect to the internet and home and so much more. Trust me, the internet component comes in handy. You’ll be surprised at how many places in Thailand have wifi. Take it from the guy who did not bring his Iphone. You will thank me later.

2.  Neck Wallet or Phanny pack

Phanny Pack

Neck Wallet

Need I say more. These helpful items will help deter pick-pockets and give you a sense of security. Although no one in our group experienced any pick pockets (that I know of), it is better to be safe than sorry. It may be uncomfortable at first and people may question your sense of fashion, but it makes life a lot easier when you know that your personal items are somewhere you can see and feel.

3. First Aid supplies

You may encounter a few rough days in Thailand and may need some medicine. Here is a quick list of things you may need depending on the trip.

Sun screen and Aloe Vera. You’ll need it if you go to the beach. Trust me.

Ibuprofen or some sort of pain killer. It will help ease those transitional days or those days you feel like crap.

Hand sanitizer. It is always better to prevent things than deal with the aftermath. So bring plenty and use it before you eat.

Pepto-Bismol and Immodium. I am sure this will be covered but these items are a must. Chances are you won’t be use to some of the foods here and may have a bad reaction to them, so bring some.

4. Disposable toilet paper/ Toilet paper

Some places do not have toilet paper. It would be wise to carry some with you at all. You never know when you will have to go. Even if you don’t someone will.


Without further to do, here are some things you should keep in mind  to ensure a safe, eye-opening, fun and educating trip.

1. Make the most of things and try to spend time with everyone and I mean everyone. Chances are they want to do the same thing too. This will help create a stronger group bond and this will help open your mind to new ideas, perspectives and make this trip more enjoyable.

2. Take advantage of your position. How many students can say that they went to Thailand for winter break? I am sure not to many, but what I am trying to say is explore your new scenery. Thailand has a lot to offer and with only three weeks to explore this beautiful country do all that you can (legally and ethically).

3.  Relax and enjoy the culture shock. Sure things are different in Thailand but this is part of the learning experience. You see and reflect and if all else fails talk to the awesome Acharns leading the trip.

4. Record your experiences. Some days are brutal and some days are easy but writing about it will help you reflect on your experiences and help you share your remarkable journey with those close to you.

5. Be alert and mindful of your actions and the actions of others. Watch your back whenever you go out and always go in a group. Even when you feel comfortable with your setting, you should always remember that there is safety in numbers. Besides, big groups often get better discounts on local transportation. Watch what you say and do in Thailand. Remember you are not on vacation and you are still representing your educational institution.

6. Learn about the Thai culture and try out some Thai food. This will help you get a general idea of what Thailand has to offer. It will also help you decide what you like and don’t like.

7. Have fun. Thailand has so much to offer so enjoy it.

 Closing Remarks

Finally, we are at the end. Enjoy your trip and make the most of it. It is an experience you will never forget.

Keng Xiong

#7 – Advice for future students

My advice for future students is to pack light. I know everybody says that but just think about what you’re packing. Before you put it in your suitcase, ask yourself if you are really going to wear that. It wouldn’t hurt to have some pre-planned outfits in mind already. I would like to suggest you bring an outfit for hiking. The weather in Thailand during this time of year should be equivalent to like summer here. From what I remember, it wasn’t too humid so that’s always good. 

This was taken at the highest mountain in Thailand.

I would suggest you pack a sweater or two. It doesn’t have to be a thick one or a thin jacket will do. Also girls DO NOT PACK a blow dryer. They had one at every hotel we stayed at so no need to bring one. It’s just going to take extra space. Another thing you should do to lighten your load is to share things with your roommate. Communicate with them to see what you guys can both share and have one or the other bring that item. 
This was probably the most confusing part for the whole trip. The clothes to pack for this trip can be short sleeves and shorts that are about knee length. Dresses or long skirts for girls are also good. Also bring a pair or two outfits that are business casual. You will probably meet some officials who hold positions in the government and it would be nice if you looked nice. Bringing a blanket and neck pillow is definitely up to you but it will be useful on this trip since you’re traveling to different cities.

This was taken during our 14 or so hour train ride to Chaing Mai.   

Lastly, come with an open mind. Don’t be afraid to try new things. You will see food there that you will probably never eat or see again but just know that it’s food that the Thai people are used to.  Enjoy your time there, take lots of pictures, and create many new memories with new friends.

Food from our home stay.

Coming home/future advice

I can’t believe I am already back home and not in Thailand anymore! When we were traveling back to the US I was excited and sad. I was excited to be back in the US but really sad to be leaving all the new friends that I made while on the trip. We all became so close during this; it was like freshman year and being in the dorms all over again. This was an experience of a lifetime and I wouldn’t trade it for anything! I learned so much and made great new relationships! 
For future students:
First off I would say just go with the flow! It will make your time in Thailand that much more enjoyable. Things don’t always go as planned and things have to be changed. Try and live in the moment as much as possible!  I would also recommend bringing a lightweight jacket/ windbreaker. It can be cold sometimes and I wish I had brought one! I would also bring a neck pillow and blanket. This would have been a big bummer if I didn’t have these with me! It was a long plane ride and we also did overnights on a bus and a train. Also don’t forget to bring a pen and a notebook/journal! I recommend keeping a journal because when you get home everything just blends together. Writing a little something each day helps you remember exactly how you were feeling and brings you back to that moment. Most importantly have fun in the new country and atmosphere! 

Post by Danny Klucas


We arrived at our home stay today in the hills of rural Thailand. Currently I’m under a mosquito net writing this. Things in the village are very tightly knit and everyone relies on each other for basic human needs. The collectiveness and community nature is something you really never see in the States unless you are to go to a sustainable community of some sort. We tend to live very distant from one another. One of the things I took away from the village was a sense of family and how we have different lives but everyone can connect in some way.

Julie Ann Blog #6

January 14, 2014
“Travel is limiting the comfort of the body to gain freedom of the mind,” (O’Reilly, 1999).
At home I have a routine that I am very comfortable with. There are fewer opportunities in my daily life at home to step out of my comfort zone than when I am on the other side of the world traveling in a foreign country. Making the decision to go on this trip, while incredibly exciting, was also outside of the experiences that I have had in my life so far. While I have traveled outside of the country to Israel numerous times, the Israeli culture is one that I am very familiar with through my Jewish learning and have studied about for years. Traveling to Thailand was my first time traveling abroad to a brand new country with a culture that I was very unfamiliar with and with a group of people where I only knew a few beforehand.
While in Thailand, I have stepped out of my comfort to let in new experiences and gain a deeper cultural experience. On one of the first days that we were here, Katelyn and I ventured off from the group to find a place to eat for lunch. This was our first full day of the trip, and we were staying at a hotel in Bangkok. Rather than going to a street vendor for lunch, we decided to eat at a sit-down restaurant a few blocks from the hotel. We walked into the restaurant, and Katelyn and I were the only non-Thai people in the entire place. As we bowed our heads to the waitress as we entered the restaurant, I was questioning if we should leave and find a place where the servers could speak English and with more foreigners. However, we decided to sit down, and I am very glad that we did. It was my first real culture shock in the country. I remember the waitresses were all dressed up with a lot of make-up and in uniform. Everyone was bowing to each other as they walked in and of course all speaking in Thai. There were live turtles and fish in the pots outside the restaurant. And rather than waiting to come over to the table when the waitress could see that we knew what we wanted to order, she stood right next to the table and waited for us to decide. The entire time, Katelyn and I were trying to remember how to say “thank you” in Thai, but I was too nervous to say anything in case we were incorrect. At the end of the meal, we were not sure if we should tip. It was a little uncomfortable because the waitress was standing only a few inches away from our table while we were trying to figure out if we are supposed to leave a tip or not. I ended up leaving one, however the waitress gave the money back to me. I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone to stay and eat at this restaurant on the first day of our trip. I am so happy that Katelyn and I did this because, while I left my own comfort, I was really able to learn about the culture first-hand and gain a deeper feeling of the cultural differences.
One of my most memorable experiences of stepping out of my comfort zone was when I decided to eat a cricket at the night market in Chiang Rai. I was walking with my friend in the group, Keng, and we saw many food stands that were selling fried crickets, maggots, and grasshoppers. I was joking around with Keng and told him that should try one although he took this as no joke. He went off and bought a whole pile of crickets and brought them to the table that some of us from the group were eating dinner at. While looking at these crickets closely with their several legs, antennas, eyes, and all, I immediately said, “no way am I eating those.” Keng went first and popped one in his mouth. I realized afterwards that there was no way I was getting out of this. I tried closing my eyes and picking up one of the crickets from the large mound of them with my chopsticks so I wouldn’t look too closely at it before putting it in my mouth. The entire table of people including my professor Cathy were cheering me on, and Katelyn was videotaping the whole thing! Lindsey decided to put one in my mouth for me, as it would have otherwise probably taken a few hours for me to do it myself. As she grabbed the cricket, I thought to myself that this is a life chance and how proud of myself I would be afterwards to have done something that I never in my life thought that I would do. In that moment, I opened my mouth and Lindsey plopped the cricket right on my tongue. I think I chewed faster than I have ever chewed anything before! As I swallowed the thing, I opened my eyes to see everyone around the table laughing hysterically and even some strangers around us staring and laughing at me. Apparently I made a pretty funny face as I was chewing J Wow, it was quite the thrill, and I couldn’t have been more proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and trying or, I should say, tasting something new!

The picture of me taking a bite of noodles was taken at the restaurant I discussed here that Katelyn and I ate at.

And here is also a picture of plate of crickets!

Blog #5 by Julie Ann

January 14, 2014
Experiencing cultural and academic events in Thailand has really opened my eyes to the value that Thai people have around self-care. For example, a few weeks ago, we experienced a monk chat. We had the opportunity to listen to a monk talk about his personal experiences with connecting to Buddhism, becoming a monk, the history of the Buddha, and traditional practices. One of the things from this monk chat that stuck with me and that I really learned from is that Buddhism is more a way of life and philosophy than a religion. Many of the traditional practices are not linked to worshipping a higher being but rather strengthening and empowering the self. As I was familiar with before, meditation and purifying the mind is a large part of the Buddhist practice. KK, the monk who lead this discussion, showed us the multiple meditation positions and how to let the body free of stress and thinking. KK also shared with us some of the other values and philosophies behind Buddhism like the importance of living in the present and detaching the self from wanting more that you have. As he was describing Buddhism, I thought about how much these philosophies direct the mind to the self and the body. The inner-self is emphasized through these Buddhist teachings rather than looking outside of the self to what others around may think.
We had this monk chat early in the trip, and since that experience, my eyes have been opened to the other areas of the Thai culture that tie the mind, body, and soul together—further emphasizing self-care and focusing within. The importance of getting massages also connects to the self and taking care of one’s body. When visiting the Waat Pho Massage School, I learned that these types of Thai massages are really an art and way of healing the body. The professional massage staff studies the physiology of the body and where certain pressure points are while also incorporating self-stretching into the practice. And I noticed at the elder’s home and the mental hospital that we visited also offer these massages as part of the therapy and healing process.
It has been interesting for me to reflect on the differences between Thailand and the United States when it comes to self-care and doing things for oneself. In the USA, our unequal society and capitalistic economy creates a social evaluate threat for people. These are threats to a person’s self-esteem and social status (Wilkinson & Pickett, 2009). In a capitalistic society, the more material wealth that one has results in a higher status on the social ladder. This results in people wanting more and there can be a stronger sense of vulnerability and sensitivity to one’s social status, which ultimately increases the social evaluate threat when there are higher levels of inequality. In the USA, we are so conscious of how we look to others in terms of our social status and how much that we have. Sometimes I find myself doing things for others more than doing things for myself and looking inside myself. My self-esteem can be dictated by how I am perceived by whoever is around me or important to me.  
Learning more about self-care and looking within myself through these cultural experiences in Thailand has really emphasized how important this is. Thailand is a collectivist society but still places so much emphasis on empowering and taking care of the self, which I am looking forward to incorporating more into my life. 
The picture of a woman giving our guide, Zuzana, a massage was taken at the Wat Pho Massage school that we visited. She was demonstrating the multiple techniques of the Wat Pho massage.

The picture of all of the monks was taken right outside a Buddhist temple and by the area that we had the monk chat.

The picture of me sitting in a chair with funny brown pants is when I was getting my first Thai foot/leg massage, which was incredible! 

Blog #6 by Katelyn S.

The Power of Just Being
There is a quote in one of the short stories that we are reading on this trip that really stood out to me. In “The Secrets of Tham Krabok” Michael Buckley writes, “Travel is limiting the comfort of the body to gain freedom of the mind.” Becoming comfortable and allowing myself to just Be, is something that I have really been able to gain and apply while on this trip. Allowing myself to be completely mindful in any given moment or at any event, has allowed me to gain new perspectives and open my eyes to many new things. Not stressing or worrying about what is next, where we are going or when we will get there has allowed me to fully absorb any given moment and really just be present. Focusing on the positives of each moment has helped me to really appreciate and learn from each situation I have gone through on this trip. There have been several times on this trip that we have had to be flexible with a change in plans, go by “Thai time,” not know exactly what event lies ahead for us or when we will get there. I have seen when things don’t go as expected or planned how that has causes irritation. When I limit myself by setting standards and they don’t go has planned that is when the stress begins. But by allowing myself to just be in the moment, see the sights, smell what’s around me, hear the sounds and what others have to say I have been able to gain so many new perspectives and gain growth in my mind and soul. By being able to limit the comfort of my body, like the quote mentioned, be ok with being unsure or a little uncomfortable at times I have been able to strengthen my mind.  This too shall past, so by being fully in this moment I can absorb more, remember more and learn more. Allowing myself to “just be” is something I hope to incorporate in my day to day life back at home.

Blog #5 by Katelyn S.

Blog #5
There are several cultural events we have experienced on this trip that have opened my eyes to the many possibilities for my future. I have always been such a planner when it comes to education, working and my future. Now that I am a senior and will be graduating this May, I am unsure of what lies ahead for me, but I have learned on this trip that having a set plan and being inflexible can limit myself to so many possibilities. Through the variety of cultural events on this trip I have so many thoughts of what I could do with my future. I have also learned it’s okay to not know exactly what lies ahead. By being open and flexible I can gain so much more. 
I have come to really enjoy this country and also the perspectives I gained from traveling. I was unsure of how I could continue this after I return to the states. One event that really stood out for me has far as possibilities for my future was our visit to Prince Williams College. This is a K-12 private school in Chiang Mai. After my visit to the school I began thinking of the possibility of coming back to teach for a year or two at Prince Williams College. I am unsure if that is what I will do, but I really appreciate how this trip has opened my eyes to so many new options for myself.

Post #6 by Danny Klucas


We are nearing the end of our trip and it seems these last three weeks are beginning to sink in. Everyone is very comfortable around each other and we built a family over here whether we wanted It or not. For our last two days, we ended up going to Pattaya to avoid the protests Bangkok. Pattaya was a little like the Wild West mixed with an old beach town, the sun was warm and people will never cease to surprise you. It’s exciting in a way, everything goes and nothing is sacred. But while it’s appealing on the surface, it wouldn’t be my first choice to go back to.

We are now back in Bangkok and wrapping things up, Zuzanna our program manager just headed back to Prague and we had our last debrief session. I want to say I’m coming back with a good taste of Thailand, its been good to us and I think we are all going back home a little different. So for right now it’s saying goodbye to Thailand.


My biggest recommendation for the next group is to be open. As soon as you step off the plane in Thailand you will notice major differences such as smell, cars, people, and even food. Don’t be afraid to try new things and be open minded about cultural options. By participating in these cultural events you will learn more not just about the country but about yourself.
Another recommendation I have is to keep pushing yourself. The first day you get there you will want to stay in your room and sleep but don’t! Go outside walk around and start experiencing Thailand. If you push yourself to get out and be apart of activities you will never be tired, and it will be easier for you to get back on a regular sleep schedule when you get home.
My last recommendation is to bring some snacks from home. There are some weird flavored chips and crackers in Thailand, and after a while you will just be craving something salty that isn’t seaweed flavored. A bonus about bringing your own snacks is if you don’t like the meal or aren’t too hungry you will have snacks to tide you over. Plus the space you use for your snacks will be available for gifts when you head home.