Time flies by way too quick over here. Only three more weeks of classes until our semester abroad at the Chulalongkorn University in Thailand is over, what a bummer! In this Blog I want to try to recap and share my experiences with y’all!
Bangkok In General
I’ve never been to Thailand, nor Asia, before and it was never really my intention of traveling through the asian countries but because the Macromedia offered the opportunity to study there i thought why not give it a go. This decision was one of the best ones I’ve ever made, because I fell in love with this part of the world.
In the beginning, I really had my struggles with a few things. Firstly, I needed to get used to the hot weather which turns out to be not as easy as it seems, due to the long sleeved school uniform you can (but not must) wear, at least for men. The goal always was to get home as fast as possible to finally change into something breathable. Furthermore, Bangkok is a loud and messy metropole. Responsible for the loudness are by guess all the Tuk Tuk’s on Bangkoks streets. It always seems like a battle of „who can roar his engine the loudest at a red light?“ which is pretty annoying at first, but you’ll get used to it. Around rush hour, you don’t want to take a taxi since the whole city seems frozen by all its red lights. However, you can try to squeeze yourself into the metro or take a motorbike taxi to get from A to B quicker than taking a taxi. Bangkok offers plenty of activities inside and outside the city. From visiting temples, going shopping in huge shopping malls, visiting wonderful (night) markets or hanging out with local friends that can show you places besides the ordinary tourist spots inside the city to planning day trips outside of Bangkok, you have a lot of opportunities to arrange your free time.
Thailand is also called the „Land of Smiles“ and I can definitely see why. At restaurants, in the streets, on markets, if you give people a smile they smile back, maybe even start a little small talk with you. Sometimes people randomly greet you on the streets with phases like „Welcome to Thailand!“ which makes you feel accepted and appreciated by locals. Locals also love hearing Thai words from you, even if they are the most basic like „Hello“ or „I am..“, they still compliment you trying to speak their language. You can also say, that everyone tries to help you as much as possible even with language barriers. In restaurants you often get switched to an english speaking waiter to take your order to not mess anything up. In worse case you always have your hands, feet or google translate to communicate with one another.
Chula treated us really well the past few months we’ve studied here I’d say. We had some trips organized for us, they always had an open ear for us in case we had questions and always provided us with information about schedule changes or days we got off class. To get around campus, you have six free bus lines to choose from which makes Chula have their own infrastructure connecting to the skytrain and popular malls close to the campus. Furthermore, you have libraries, a health center, a few pools, a gym and many cafeterias all around campus which you can attend.
One of the main reasons why I chose Bangkok was of course the money situation. Most things seem so much cheaper than in Europe and they are! Transportation for example costs nothing. Skytrain tickets are not more than 70Baht (about 2€) one way and taxis have a minimum fare of 34Baht (about 1€) and I think each kilometer it jumps up by like 2-4Baht (didn’t really figure the technique behind that system out, but I can tell it’s really cheap). From the smaller airport Don Mueang in Bangkok home to my apartment, which is like 26km away, I usually pay about 300Baht (about 8€) and that’s a 40 minute ride!
Food is also important to mention. I usually eat in the cafeteria at our faculty. They offer all kind of delicious dishes for not more than 40Baht (1€) and their portions are big enough to get you through the day. Street food is also very popular and with not more that 80Baht a reasonable priced dish you can find at almost every street corner. If you’re feeling fancy and you want to go out for dinner, you can find good places that serve tasty food from 100Baht to not more that 250Baht (around 6€), including a drink. You really get a lot for your money here.
Can you still travel without neglecting your studies? YES, it is possible. I personally am capable to manage to study for quizzes, midterms and finals and still get to see as much as possible of beautiful southeast Asia. Some of us have no class on mondays which is pretty neat, because you can plan long weekend trips in Thailand or international. I unfortunately didn’t have this schedule, but we had a few thai festive days falling on mondays and fridays which allows you to travel a little bit around. Besides the north and south of Thailand, I’ve already been to Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Hong Kong and Macau since I’ve started my semester over here (more to come after the semester ends ;)).
Guys, I can only recommend you go spend your semester aboard at Chula in Bangkok, you won’t regret it, I promise!