Hey! So you’ve stumbled across my blog about the Chulalongkorn Exchange program. I hope it helps you decide whether to do the program and what to do once you get here. I learned a ton on the exchange program, most of it outside the classroom. It’s a great sub-in for a Dartmouth term, but you’ll have to be ok with doing five terms straight at Dartmouth and using your displaced off-term to go on the exchange. The quality of the teaching is hit or miss – about half the classes are equivalent to Dartmouth and the other half are sub-par. But again, the exchange program is about much more than classes. If you do decide to go, plan early – you may want to explore SE Asia afterwards, or stick around doing an internship. During your four months of the exchange, here are three quick recommendations:
1) Pick challenging classes. I know you may be inclinded towards easy classes because you want to travel (as we did with Introduction to Automotive Engineering). But chances are you’re like most Dartmouth students and will get more frustrated by a class that’s too easy than one that’s too difficult.
2) Travel! Weekends outside BKK are much more fun and memorable than a weekend in the apartment, and you’ll deepen your understanding / appreciation of Thailand. Where you go is entirely up to you. My favorite trips were the Surin Islands and Kanchanaburi/Erawan Falls (you’ll need to reserve spots at the National Parks early for these!).
3) Spend at least 4-5 days practicing meditation at a buddhist temple, preferably a 7-day or 10-day meditation workshop. It was one of the highlights of my entire trip, and I learned more about the culture in those 4 days than the rest of the trip combinded. That’s not an overstatement. It’s one of the rare things that simply can’t be done anywhere else.
I could write a more, but I’ll let the blog speak on my behalf. Please feel free to blitz me and ask questions (even if it’s 5, 10 years out). And good luck!