Exchange Student Experiences: My time at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

Hello, my name is Shizuka Fukuoka, a fourth-year student at Nagoya University, Faculty of Economics. I studied abroad at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand from August 2023 to May 2024. I would like to share my study abroad experience with all of you.


Chulalongkorn University is one of the oldest universities in Thailand and is located in the center of Bangkok. The university's dormitories are located near the school buildings, and there are free shuttle buses running within the university, so students can commute to the university without having to spend money on transportation.


However, I could not get a reservation for the university dormitory, so I had to rent an apartment. The apartment is one train stop away from the university, but even so, a one-way trip costs only 15 THB for a student, or roughly 60 yen. Compared to Japan, I feel it is cheap.


At the university, I was taking a course in behavioral economics (my major) in English. There are also other Thai language classes offered for international students, and you can take up to one class per semester from other faculties. One class at Chulalongkorn University lasts three hours, with a break in the middle. During the break, students buy snacks such as fruit and beverages and spend the break in a relaxed atmosphere. Compared to Japan, the time is less strict and everyone seems to be having a good time.


Each faculty usually has a cafeteria and the cafeterias are always crowded. The cafeteria at Faculty of Economics is one of the largest, with a long line of people waiting to buy  lunch. The menu here offers a wide variety of dishes, from famous Thai dishes such as Pad Gaprao (Rice topped with stir-fried pork / chicken and basil), Thai style noodle soup or fried chicken on rice. My favorite was the Thai-style porridge. When ordering, I had to speak Thai or show a picture, so in the first days I had to ask my Thai friends to help me.



On my days off, I traveled to various places. There are many tourist attractions in Thailand and there are many foreign tourists. Among the most famous are the three major temples, namely Wat Phrakaew, Wat Pho and Wat Arun. 

At Wat Pho, there is a golden statue of Buddha lying on the ground. You do not need reservations to visit these temples, but you should dress appropriately and avoid exposing your skin when visiting.


Outside of Bangkok, there are several famous cities such as Phuket and Chiang Mai. I especially like Chiang Mai. You can feel the time pass more peacefully than in Bangkok and the food is delicious. The food culture in Thailand differs from region to region, so it is fun to try out some of the local food.


At the end of the semester, there is a final exam week. Thai students take tests very seriously because their grades have a huge impact on their future life in Thailand. I was surrounded by this atmosphere and put so much effort in studying for the exam. The format of the test varies from professor to professor, but like the classes, it basically takes 3 hours to complete. The amount of writing on the test is much more than that of the Japanese test, and it is essential to be well-prepared in order to pass the exam.


After the semester is over, everyone spends their vacations in their own way. I went to Singapore and Malaysia on my own. My friends went to Vietnam and Hua Hin, a well-known resort in Thailand. Thailand is one of the most economically developed countries in Southeast Asia, and it is easy to use Thailand as a base to visit other countries. Thailand was very convenient for me, as I had previously hoped to visit other Southeast Asian countries during my time in Thailand.


I wrote this introduction after returning to Japan, but I already miss my life in Thailand very deeply. I think I was able to experience many things that I would not have been able to if I had stayed in Japan, such as memories with friends I met in Thailand and the difficulties I faced during my exchange program. For a while after arriving in Thailand, I felt uneasy and had difficulty communicating with people, but with the help of the university staff and the kindness of the other international students, I was able to gradually get used to life in Thailand. Also, Thai people are very kind to me. OnceI fell down the stairs, Thai people around me immediately rushed to my help, for which I cannot thank them enough.


Looking back now, I think that Thailand was the best place for me to study abroad, not only in terms of study, but also in terms of food culture, characters of the people, climate, and geographical features. I hope you will also consider Thailand as a place to study abroad.