Perfect combination of academics and living in unique environment
Cindy from California, USA studied digital media arts at California State University. She decided to spend a semester at Prince of Songkla University in Phuket, Thailand. We interviewed Cindy after the start of her semester in 2012 and you can read the interview below.
What made you decide to come and study in Phuket?
I heard from a friend who lives in Phuket how much he enjoys living here. He said the people are so friendly, and the beaches are gorgeous. I was happy to hear there is a quality university where I could study a semester! Phuket seemed like a great place to get to know people and to really understand their culture, especially if they accepted me with open arms. I was also interested in learning about Buddhism.
How did you get the study place?
The application process was easy! There are no other words than that to describe the process. Luckily I was accepted even I was late of the deadline. I found Asia Exchange through a link on my schools website that had other program suggestions for studying abroad.
What have been the best things about your exchange experience so far?
I have met so many nice people here. I have made good friends who have accepted me into their circle of friends, and have gone to their homes already. I also loved the trip to Phi Phi Island during the Orientation week.
How did you experience the balance between school and free-time activities?
I see it working perfectly; so far I am not overwhelmed. However I can see my study time increasing within a few more weeks.
What has been the most interesting part of your studies so far?
It’s either learning Thai language or learning how Thai students think in my Social Psychology course. They are so different than students in America, but I am taking it all in, and trying to learn from it. Lectures have been very interesting and the quality of education is much better than I expected. This is a perfect combination of academics and living in a unique environment.
How is your accommodation?
I am staying at the PSU Lodge currently. It isn’t too expensive and conveniently located on campus. I am happy here, but I think I’ll be staying somewhere with a more stable internet connection, and maybe a kitchen.
Where would you like to travel during your exchange?
I would like to travel to some another island and to Bangkok. Travelling in Asia is easy and cheap! I am not too picky about where I go, to be here is a gift.
Did you experience any culture shock in the beginning?
The first week was great. However, the next week when school started and I had nothing to do after class, I began to miss the people I could not see. There is such a big time difference between Thailand and California it was definitely hard picking a time to Skype. I got through it though and now have tons of Thai and other exchange student friends.
Has your conception of Phuket and Thailand changed so far?
It was never really defined before I got here. However, it is developing. I am happy here, and I love learning about the culture. I can’t wait to see what I think upon leaving this beautiful place.
Why do you think Asia is a suitable exchange destination?
I would recommend it to anyone in America, because it is so far for one, and so completely different from home. I really think we need to get away from the norm to get a real quality experience.
What do you think about Asia Exchange’s charity work?
I was thrilled to see what we were able to do for the Safe House here in Phuket. I am also happy that I will be working with the students for my social psychology course. They are such beautiful children, I loved seeing the smiles on their faces.
Why is it better to go for an exchange rather than just backpacking?
You won’t see everything you wish when just backpacking. You won’t be as immersed in the culture. Being able to study with the Thai students, order food in Thai etc. is so different and unique experience. They are so willing to help you and studying abroad is totally worth of it.
What have you learned in Thai language?
I have learned many sentences and phrases, numbers, days of the week, months… I’m so excited to learn even more. I’m also learning small phrases like I love you from my Thai friends!
What would you like to say to someone who is thinking about spending an exchange semester in Phuket?
I would say start packing! You won’t regret it!
Any other comments in mind?
I am grateful to Asia Exchange for providing an inexpensive and convenient way for me to get here. I wanted this more than anything in the world and you got me here. Thank you!