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.