DON’T FORGET TO PACK Sunscreen! The sun in Thailand is much stronger than in California and prices for sunscreen in Thai stores are sky high. You’ll want to bring a large container of sunscreen in your luggage. I recommend bringing containers of shampoo, conditioner, and any skincare you regularly use too – these are expensive in Thailand. Activewear clothing is highly recommended, as the tropical climate in Thailand brings in plenty of hot and humid days. Comfortable walking shoes! You can definitely navigate throughout Bangkok on foot thanks to its bus and rail stations. You will be doing a lot of walking on your travels, so bring a pair of shoes that can really support your feet during your journey. Swimwear! You will need it to bask in the sun on Thai beaches and islands. A strong umbrella! As you continue living in Bangkok, you’ll notice that it rains a lot! A strong umbrella will help you get through the monsoon season in Thailand. Lastly, you’ll want at least one formal outfit.
BEST LEFT AT HOME Sweatshirts! Thailand is normally very hot and humid, so you will rarely need a thick sweatshirt. Save room in your luggage and fill it with other essentials, such as shirts, shorts, activewear, and walking shoes.
WHERE TO LIVE Amarin Mansion! Although not actually a mansion in the traditional sense, this newly renovated hotel has elegant and spacious rooms. A key benefit is the quick walk to the university and the rooftop deck where everyone gathers regularly to socialize. While hanging out on warm evenings on the rooftop, I met international students from Germany, Australia, France, and Mexico who were also studying abroad at Thammasat.
BEST EATS NEAR CAMPUS Thammasat campus food court! You will get to enjoy incredible Thai food everyday like Krua Khun Kung and Hakata Ramen. Enjoy excellent Thai cuisine while overlooking the Chao Phraya River. The food court is on the opposite side of the Chao Phraya river to Thammasat University.
FAVORITE THAI ACTIVITY Visiting the Royal Grand Palace! It’s only a ten-minute walk from Thammasat University. The former royal residence also has the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand.
WHERE TO STUDY The Pridi Banomyong Library at Thammasat University was by far my favorite place to study and hangout on campus. It’s a multi-level library with everything a student needs: quiet spaces, clean tables, comfy chairs, air-conditioning (particularly important in a country where the weather is hot, hotter, and hottest), free Wi-Fi and printing, plus computer stations. The library became home base when it came time to prepare for midterms and final exams. A key benefit of the library is its multi-media zone, which lets you rent movies from the film collection (think first-rate Bollywood you can’t see in America) and watch them on cozy couches with headphones. It’s a super way to relax after walking through a hot day in Bangkok.
MUST-TRY LOCAL DISH Hands-down, you have to try Tom yum!
BEST PHOTO OP Chao Phraya riverbank right next to campus.
BIGGEST FAIL Not wearing sunscreen at the beach and getting sunburned!
FAVORITE LOCAL EVENT The Bangkok night markets are a must to experience. You’ll never see anything like it again, anywhere.
BUY THIS Thai papaya salad, Thai iced tea, and fresh fruit! Yes, it really is all about the food in Thailand.
NOT THAT American fast food.
MOST INTERESTING CLASS Thai Society and Politics! It was a pleasure learning about the Thai government, political process, and history. It will deepen your understanding of the systems that guide the everyday life of Thai residents.
FAVORITE UCEAP ACTIVITY Dinners with the UCEAP liaison, a member of the Thammasat University faculty who supports and looks after the UC students. We met our liaison on several occasions; first, at orientation and then, as the program progressed, at several hosted dinners. The first was at a highly regarded restaurant that served incredible Thai food. The second was more formal and took place at a fancy hotel in downtown Bangkok. All the UCEAP students enjoyed these dinners so much it became something we looked forward to as a group.
BEST PART OF THE PROGRAM Becoming friends with my fellow Thai students over the course of the program.
UNFORGETTABLE WEEKEND TRIPS Koh Samui in Southern Thailand.
BONUS PRO TIP Please check the visa requirements of any country you plan to visit other than Thailand. Some countries will not allow you to board your plane without already having an active visa. For example, I had to pay a large amount of money just to be able to be board my plane to Da Nang, Vietnam. If I had looked into Vietnam’s visa policy beforehand, I would have paid a much lower price for a visa.