I’ve recently came back from my semester abroad in Thailand, where I studied at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok for one semester. So now when I’m home the question is, was a semester abroad in Thailand a good decision? A simple answer would be, yes, it was a very, very good decision, but let me explain.
Thailand is not your typical semester- abroad- destination, it’s more of you typical backpacking- holiday- with- buckets- at- the- beach (with alco ofc) destination. In my university I never really heard anyone considering Bangkok as a potential choice for the semester abroad, I myself never really thought about Bangkok either. I’ve been to Thailand once before, I loved it, but going to Thailand to study? Wasn’t Thailand a place where you go to the beach? It changed when I stumbled into pictures of Chulalongkorn University. It looked impressive, beautiful Thai architecture surrounded by skyscrapers, and when I saw pictures of Chula students wearing uniforms, I was sold. I kind of always wanted to try wearing uniform at school, and considering the fact that the clock is ticking (and I’m soon done with school forever), I would probably not have much more opportunity in life to do that.
I choose Chula as my first priority for my semester abroad. I was excited, I couldn’t wait to get there and experience life in this huge, exotic metropolis. I was sure that I made the right decision, until someone decided to inform me that it was not a good choice. Why? because Thailand is not a good place for a semester abroad, simple as that, it’s not good enough. What I should have done, is to choose a respectable university in a respectable study place (whatever that is). And that got my thinking. Did I make a mistake?
I had so many options, so many universities to choose from. Chula is the best uni in Thailand, but it’s not necessary a worldwide known university, it’s not a university that would necessary impress your future boss (unless your future boss is from Thailand). I was worried, maybe I should have chosen a place that would be associated with good education and not beaches? Semester abroad is such an incredible opportunity, did I waste it?
The answer is, no I did not, because I had the most incredible time in Thailand.
My point with this little story is, don’t always listen to what other people have to say about your choices, because they might be wrong. You need to live your life your own way, it’s a cliche, but it’s true. No, majority of people would not choose Thailand as their semester abroad destination, but it’s not always a good idea to do what majority of people would do.
I agree, it is extremely important to think about your future, because that’s the way our world works. It’s important to aim for best schools possible, that can eventually get you a good and fulfilling job, which will give you enough money to live your life the way you want it. Money is freedom, that’s the way it is. Your positive energy and good attitude will not buy you a plane ticket. Don’t get me wrong, I care a lot about my education, I care about having a career that will make me happy, but I believe that we all need boundaries. Boundaries that we need to set by ourselves. Boundaries between what is the smart thing to do, and what we actually feel like doing, what will make us happy. Sometimes you just need to rely on your own instinct, and if it feels right, you should just go for it.
Maybe it would look better on my CV, if I would spend my semester abroad in Scotland (not hate on Scotland, just happen to know many people who want to go to school there 😉 ) but would it really make me happy? Would I have as much fun as I did in Bangkok? Would I experience and learn as much? and I’m not talking about classroom kind of learning, I’m talking about the learning that happens when you live in a culture so different to your own. Scotland might be a great place to study, but it’s also less than two hours away from Denmark and the weather is not very different (which means not very great).
Just the fact that I had tons of fun living in Bangkok is a good enough reason for me to say, that Bangkok was a great choice for my semester abroad. I was happy, that’s another good reason. It was so much easier for me to be happy, being surrounded by palm trees and all that craziness that Bangkok has to offer, than it is when I’m home in Copenhagen. I met so many amazing people, traveled to so many incredible places, I learned so much about other cultures. I experience how it is to live in this crazy, foreign, exotic metropolis, on the other side of the world, and I will forever be grateful for this amazing experience.
So yes, semester abroad in Thailand was a great decision, one of the best decisions I ever made, so if you’re considering Thailand as you exchange destination, go for it, you will have the time of your life. And you don’t even have to go to the beach if you don’t want to, Thailand has so much more to offer than just beaches 😉