Discover the rich culture and spirit of Thailand while meeting the people who are known for their friendliness and hospitality. Thailand offers courses in English in an exotic location, perfect if you're a student with a sense of adventure and independence. Visit an elephant sanctuary, browse through fresh food markets and take a Thai cooking class in the land of smiles.



Languages Spoken:

Thai

Education System

HIGHER EDUCATION

In the early days, the majority of people were educated in Buddhist monasteries by monks. In an effort to consolidate Thailand’s independence and to modernize the country, King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) introduced far-sighted reforms in the government bureaucracy after he assumed the throne in 1868. Centers of higher education were established and subsequently flourished as Thailand embarked on a path of development that increased the need for educated people.

There are presently 29 public universities in Thailand. In addition, higher education is offered at private universities, institutes of technology, vocational and technical colleges, teachers colleges and professional colleges. In order to be admitted into a degree program in higher education, a person must hold the secondary school-leaving certificate and must take the national university entrance examination, which is given each year in April.

The bachelor's degree usually takes four years to complete, but an additional one to two years may be required for certain fields. Graduate education leads to a master's degree after one to two years of study and presentation of a thesis. A doctorate is awarded after an additional two to five years of graduate study.

ACADEMIC CALENDAR

The university academic year is broken into two semesters. Thammasat’s semester dates vary by program. The standard, general education program runs from August through May; Semester 1 is from August to December and Semester 2 is from January to May.

TEACHING AND LEARNING STYLE

Students should be prepared for a more casual, flexible style of lecture and assessment. However, the casual style should not be mistaken for low quality; Thammasat faculty members are among the most respected in their fields and many have earned their doctorate degrees at international universities. Classes are either in the form of seminars or lectures. Lecture classes are very large, while seminars are intimate and encourage class participation. Thai students are required to attend classes regularly in order to pass their courses. Each student has an advisor who aids him in choosing classes and registering. Professors and academic advisors are usually readily available for consultation.

COURSE LOAD, CONTACT HOURS, AND LEVEL

The typical course load is three to six courses per semester, which equates to 15 to 17 hours of class per week. Each semester runs approximately 16 weeks long.

ASSESSMENT

Assignments tend to be long-term ones such as term projects, papers and/or final exams. Very few tests, quizzes or short homework assignments are given throughout the semester. Emphasis is put mostly on the final exam or project grade. The student must exercise self-discipline to keep up with readings and class lectures. University grades are given on an A-F scale with A being the highest.

CAMPUS CULTURE

Most Thai students live at home with their family, or, if they come from another city, live close to the university in shared apartments or rented rooms. Since no students live directly on campus in dormitories, social life is concentrated more in the city.

Visa and Residency

Contact the Thai consulate with jurisdiction for your state in order to verify what documentation is necessary to obtain the visa. Please note that you MUST apply for a visa in your home country. You CANNOT change your visa status once you have arrived in Thailand. For special circumstances, please contact the nearest Thai Embassy or consulate.

For more information, please visit Royal Thai Embassy, Washington DC .

All students, Semester, Summer and full-year, should apply for an "ED Non-Immigrant Visa."
Submit the visa application with the items listed below, allowing some time for processing. ISEP strongly encourages that you send all documents via registered mail with return receipt and keep photocopies of everything.

Requirements for the ED Non-Immigrant Visa are:

  • Passport valid 6 months beyond your placement period
  • Completed application form
  • 2 passport photos taken within the past 6 months (2"x2" full-face view with a light background)
  • A copy of flight confirmation/reservation , showing going from US to Thailand and leaving from Thailand (The name of the applicant must indicated clearly)
  • A copy of recent bank statement ($700 per person and $1,500 per family) (The name of the applicant must indicated clearly) , In case of submitting family bank statement a proof of relationship (i.e. birth certificate, marriage certificate) must be provided.
  • Self-addressed envelope size 6"x9" or large enough to fit all passports with sufficient postage stamps. DHL/UPS/FedEx also accepted.
  • Letter of acceptance from the host institution
  • Original letter from the home institution stating that applicants are visiting Thailand for education purposes
  • For non-US citizens residing in the US: a copy of permanent resident alien card or a copy of valid US visa with employment verification(not a pay stub)/ letter proof of full-time student status
    IMPORTANT NOTE: Contact your host institution and ISEP once your placement is confirmed so that the Official Acceptance Letter can be sent directly from the institution to the consulate.
  • Processing fee: Contact your local consulate or embassy to find the processing fee.

Culture

LANGUAGE AND RELIGION

Of Thailand’s nearly 65 million citizens, the vast majority (roughly 80%) is ethnically Thai. The next largest ethnicity is Chinese, making up 15% of the population. Other ethnicities represented throughout the country include Indian, Malay, Khmer, and Burmese. More than 92% of the population speaks the official language, Thai, and/or one of its regional dialects. English is also widely spoken and understood throughout the country. An overwhelming majority (95%) of the population is Buddhist, with Theravada Buddhism as the official religion. Practitioners are largely tolerant and respectful of other religions. Approximately 4% of Thais are Muslim; the majority live in the southern provinces near the Malaysian border. Other religions practiced in Thailand include Hinduism, Christianity, and Taoism, which are generally practiced by those living in the multi-cultural city of Bangkok.

CUSTOMS

Thais regard the head as the highest part of the body literally and figuratively. Avoid touching people on the head. The feet are considered the dirtiest part of the body; do not point your feet at people or an object, particularly at the image of the Buddha. It is considered very rude. Thais have a deep respect for the Buddha. Also, shoes should be removed when entering homes and temples.

THAI ROYAL FAMILY

Thai people have a deep, traditional reverence for the Royal Family. It is against the law to insult the King or Royal family. Due to recent political tension, prosecutions of "Lèse majesté" crimes have increased among foreigners and Thais alike. Therefore, be careful when commenting on the Royal Family. When you are in Thailand you might notice that the national anthem is played twice a day at 8 a.m and 6 p.m. It is played on all radio and tv stations as well at bus stations, police stations and other civic centres. Wherever you are you should be prepared to stop what you are doing and stand up politely.

COMMUNICATION STYLE

The Thai people value courtesy, politeness, and self-control as a means to maintain harmonious relations. It is a non-confrontational society, so public displays of anger or criticism are avoided. Thais tend to communicate in an indirect way in comparison to Westerners. Thais almost never say "no," and frequently use "yes" to convey understanding. Try to pick up on non-verbal cues and words of indifference. Subtle gestures could completely change the meaning behind the words.

Thais don't normally shake hands when they greet one another. Instead, they practice the "wai." To do the wai, one must press the palms together in a prayer-like gesture somewhere between the chest and the forehead. The wai may be made by sitting, walking, or standing. Generally, a younger person wais to an elder, who then returns the gesture.

THE LAND OF SMILES

Thais tend to smile often and for a wide variety of situations and emotions. For example, a Thai friend may smile at you if you make a cultural mistake. Don’t take this to mean that your friend is insulting you. More likely, your Thai friend is trying to stop you from being embarrassed. A smile can convey a negative feeling as well, depending on the situation. It will take some time, but eventually you will begin to understand various meanings behind the smile.

FAMILY AND SOCIAL STRUCTURE

Thais respect hierarchical relationships which are defined by seniority. Parents are superior to children, teachers to students, and bosses to subordinates. In order to place you within a hierarchy, a Thai stranger might ask rather personal questions. Family life is the cornerstone of Thai society. Parents are at the top of the family hierarchy and children are taught to honor their parents.

FOOD

Thai cuisine is based on a balance between spicy, sweet, salty, and bitter flavors. Thais typically eat meals family-style in order to experience the contrast in flavors between two or three dishes. One distinctive aspect of Thai food is the use of fresh herbs and spices. Additionally, fish sauce is largely used in authentic Thai dishes. There are regional variations to Thai food due to the influence of neighboring countries such as China and Malaysia. A staple food throughout the country is rice, which is eating with most meals, from breakfast to dessert. Jasmine rice is the most coveted and expensive rice. Popular rice dishes include khao pad, or fried rice with pork or chicken, chilies, and fish sauce; khao tom, which is a salty porridge-like soup cooked with pork and garlic and served for breakfast; finally, khao niaw, or sticky rice, is eaten with grilled chicken and spicy papaya salad. Chicken and fish are commonly used meats. Noodles are more and more common due to Chinese influence, although rice remains the staple. Popular drinks include Thai beer, fruit smoothies made with fresh fruit, coconut milk, and Thai ice tea.

Daily Life

LANGUAGE AND RELIGION

Of Thailand’s nearly 65 million citizens, the vast majority (roughly 80%) is ethnically Thai. The next largest ethnicity is Chinese, making up 15% of the population. Other ethnicities represented throughout the country include Indian, Malay, Khmer, and Burmese. More than 92% of the population speaks the official language, Thai, and/or one of its regional dialects. English is also widely spoken and understood throughout the country. An overwhelming majority (95%) of the population is Buddhist, with Theravada Buddhism as the official religion. Practitioners are largely tolerant and respectful of other religions. Approximately 4% of Thais are Muslim; the majority live in the southern provinces near the Malaysian border. Other religions practiced in Thailand include Hinduism, Christianity, and Taoism, which are generally practiced by those living in the multi-cultural city of Bangkok.

CUSTOMS

Thais regard the head as the highest part of the body literally and figuratively. Avoid touching people on the head. The feet are considered the dirtiest part of the body; do not point your feet at people or an object, particularly at the image of the Buddha. It is considered very rude. Thais have a deep respect for the Buddha. Also, shoes should be removed when entering homes and temples.

THAI ROYAL FAMILY

Thai people have a deep, traditional reverence for the Royal Family. It is against the law to insult the King or Royal family. Due to recent political tension, prosecutions of "Lèse majesté" crimes have increased among foreigners and Thais alike. Therefore, be careful when commenting on the Royal Family. When you are in Thailand you might notice that the national anthem is played twice a day at 8 a.m and 6 p.m. It is played on all radio and tv stations as well at bus stations, police stations and other civic centres. Wherever you are you should be prepared to stop what you are doing and stand up politely.

COMMUNICATION STYLE

The Thai people value courtesy, politeness, and self-control as a means to maintain harmonious relations. It is a non-confrontational society, so public displays of anger or criticism are avoided. Thais tend to communicate in an indirect way in comparison to Westerners. Thais almost never say "no," and frequently use "yes" to convey understanding. Try to pick up on non-verbal cues and words of indifference. Subtle gestures could completely change the meaning behind the words.

Thais don't normally shake hands when they greet one another. Instead, they practice the "wai." To do the wai, one must press the palms together in a prayer-like gesture somewhere between the chest and the forehead. The wai may be made by sitting, walking, or standing. Generally, a younger person wais to an elder, who then returns the gesture.

THE LAND OF SMILES

Thais tend to smile often and for a wide variety of situations and emotions. For example, a Thai friend may smile at you if you make a cultural mistake. Don’t take this to mean that your friend is insulting you. More likely, your Thai friend is trying to stop you from being embarrassed. A smile can convey a negative feeling as well, depending on the situation. It will take some time, but eventually you will begin to understand various meanings behind the smile.

FAMILY AND SOCIAL STRUCTURE

Thais respect hierarchical relationships which are defined by seniority. Parents are superior to children, teachers to students, and bosses to subordinates. In order to place you within a hierarchy, a Thai stranger might ask rather personal questions. Family life is the cornerstone of Thai society. Parents are at the top of the family hierarchy and children are taught to honor their parents.

FOOD

Thai cuisine is based on a balance between spicy, sweet, salty, and bitter flavors. Thais typically eat meals family-style in order to experience the contrast in flavors between two or three dishes. One distinctive aspect of Thai food is the use of fresh herbs and spices. Additionally, fish sauce is largely used in authentic Thai dishes. There are regional variations to Thai food due to the influence of neighboring countries such as China and Malaysia. A staple food throughout the country is rice, which is eating with most meals, from breakfast to dessert. Jasmine rice is the most coveted and expensive rice. Popular rice dishes include khao pad, or fried rice with pork or chicken, chilies, and fish sauce; khao tom, which is a salty porridge-like soup cooked with pork and garlic and served for breakfast; finally, khao niaw, or sticky rice, is eaten with grilled chicken and spicy papaya salad. Chicken and fish are commonly used meats. Noodles are more and more common due to Chinese influence, although rice remains the staple. Popular drinks include Thai beer, fruit smoothies made with fresh fruit, coconut milk, and Thai ice tea.

Health and Safety

https://www.isepstudyabroad.org/guides-and-tips/health-safety

Currency

CURRENY AND CONVERSION

Thai currency is the Thai Baht ("B"). Baht come in both coins and bills. Coin denominations are B1, B2, and B10. Bills come in denominations of B20, B50, B100, B500, and B1,000. There are currency exchange booths in the larger cities and main tourist areas, which stay open until at least 5pm. The Suvarnabhumi Airport has a 24-hour exchange counter. See Xe.com for the current exchange rate.

BANKS, CREDIT CARDS, AND ATMs

Banks are generally open Monday through Friday from 9:30am to 3:30pm. Some banks have shorter Saturday hours. There are ATMs throughout the country- almost every town has a bank with an ATM. Thai banks charge B150 per ATM withdrawal. American Express, Visa, and Mastercard are accepted at high end restaurants, department stores, travel agents, and hotels, but there are high surcharges and theft is common. It is best to keep your credit cards out of sight and use cash in smaller markets.

DISCOUNTS

Look into purchasing an International Student ID Card (ISIC) card from STA travel. It costs just $25 and can often get you discounts on travel, movie tickets, and more. You should also research whether a monthly public transportation pass is available for purchase, and whether this is more cost advantageous than individual fares, which can add up quickly.

TIPPING

Tipping is common in Thailand. Guides, drivers, bellboys, maids, and waiters depend on tips for the most part.

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