Sanook Mai? – Five Reasons You Should Study Abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand

by Suzi Nanthavong, class of 2017, Biochemistry major and Study Abroad Ambassador

“But I don’t have time”, is one of the excuses that I often hear my peers say when asked why they have not studied abroad. Believe me, I even told myself that. However, after extensive research, I finally found the right program Chiang Mai, Thailand. Before I knew it, I was on my way to Thailand, where I would have some of the most amazing experiences of my life. Here are five (out of many) reasons that you should study abroad in Thailand:

  1. First off, and most importantly, the food is DELICIOUS.

If you’re as big of a fan of Shadyside’s Noodlehead as I am, I promise that Thailand will not disappoint you. Visit Chiang Mai to experience pad thai or local Khao Soi (known as Chiang Mai Curry at Noodlehead), made with fresh noodles and spicy, delicious sauces. Not only is the food relatively cheap (you can often get an entire meal for less than $4USD), but also it is also fresh and often made to order. During my time in Chiang Mai, I tried various curries, rice dishes, noodles, fresh smoothies, mangoes with sticky rice, and tropical fruits like mangosteen and lychees!

Khao Soi, also known as Chiang Mai Curry
  1. New Religion

Many of the people in Thailand practice Theravada Buddhism as a religion. In Chiang Mai, visitors have easy access to the various old temples, known as wats. Some of these temples date back to the 1200s, and are all different shapes and sizes. You will probably end up visiting 10 (or 30) different temples while in Chiang Mai alone. As part of our program, we were able to informally chat with the younger monks at a temple called Wat Suan Dok, who were practicing their English.

  1. Great Location

 “Songthaews” or red trucks were the primary form of transportation in Chiang Mai. At about 20 baht (56 cents), you can travel anywhere in the city that is 20 minutes away. It is very easy and relatively cheap to travel to other parts of Southeast Asia too! I was able to travel to the island of Phuket, where I went snorkeling for the first time. I also spent some time in Vientiane and Vang Vieng Laos, where I explored caves and visited a temple called That Luang. Lastly, I traveled to Cambodia and got to spend time at Angkor Wat.


  1. Elephants

As a class, we took a day trip to the Elephant Nature Park in northern Chiang Mai. On our drive up, we watched a video describing the aims of the reserve, which aims give elephants that were rescued from horrendous situations their own sanctuary. We were able to get up close and personal with the elephants through feeding and bathing them in a river.

  1. You will meet some of the most amazing, and memorable people.

You are bound to make a lot of friends. From my lovely, outgoing Thai roommate, to the other students in the program, and lastly to the locals we met along the way, you will begin to understand why Thailand is known as “The Land of Smiles”.

The phrase of “sanook mai” in Thailand can roughly translate to “did you have fun?”, something locals were fond of asking. After experiencing Chiang Mai and all it had to offer, I can wholeheartedly say that I had the most fun, eye-opening experience during my time abroad.

When will you study abroad?  For more information about study abroad options, scholarships and the study abroad process, please contact or visit us at the Office of International Affairs in Falk Hall, lower level.

Deadlines approaching for national study abroad scholarships


Beyond the funding that is available to all Chatham undergraduates through the study abroad voucher ($1200) and to those students completing the International Certificate ($1800), there are other scholarship opportunities students can apply for.  Deadlines are coming up for the following national opportunities:

The Fund for Education Abroad’s 2017-2018 Scholarship Application for summer 2017, fall 2017 and spring 2018 study abroad students closes on January 11, 2017. This opportunity is open to US citizen and permanent resident undergraduate students participating in a credit bearing course abroad of at least 4 weeks in length. This scholarship is for up to $10,000 (Academic Year); $5,000 (fall/spring semester); prorated by no. of weeks, minimum $1,250 (summer). FEA also offers several dedicated scholarship opportunities.

The DAAD Scholarship is for study in Germany.  The deadline for applications is January 31.  The scholarship provides recipients a stipend of 650 Euro per month, health, accident and liability insurance, travel allowance.

Undergraduate Scholarship

The deadline for the Boren Scholarships is February 9. This is an initiative of the National Security Education Program, providing unique funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests, and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The countries of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are excluded.  Scholarship amounts can range from $800 for summer programs up to $20,000 for an academic year.

The Gilman scholarship is for Federal Pell grant recipients. The Gilman supports summer, semester and year long study abroad. The summer 2017 application will open in mid-January.  Gilman scholarships of up to $5,000 will be awarded this academic year for U.S. citizen undergraduates to study or intern abroad. Award amounts will vary depending on the length of study and student need.

The Pennsylvania Council for International Education Joint Scholarships are open to undergraduate, graduate or doctoral students who are attending a university or college in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.   These $2000 scholarships are for participation in a global learning experience in Asia.  The proposed experience can be short term, semester, full year, or internship.  The submissions must be submitted by March 1, 2017.  The Student Application Form can be found at this link.

When will you study abroad?  For more information about study abroad options, scholarships and the study abroad process, please contact or visit us at the Office of International Affairs in Falk Hall, lower level.