On Tuesday, I finished the phase of my final examinations at Siam University and now I guess it’s time to look back again and sort of evaluate the studying part of my semester abroad.
One day is left before I go on my biggest adventure time so far – 2months of travelling in Thailand, WOW. Surely, that’s the part I kind of awaited the most and especially since mid of March the waiting nearly hurt (paired with being homesick and missing my family & friends like hell.).
However, studying at Siam had its pro’s and con’s, for sure. The first day, it felt so weird dressing in school uniform and being the white girl in a class of locals where everybody looks at you when you enter the room. That alien feeling definitely changed and I feel as comfortable as everyone else in class (as long as the Aircon is not freezing you to death!). In terms of organizations, Siam is something one has to get used to. And I clearly experienced some organizational issues already at my home university but here it’s a different world. Whether registering for your subjects, writing exams, getting paperwork done or scheduling finals – Siam creates a lot of chaotic confusion and not only once, I certainly had to calm down my temper before bursting into anger. It’s something you generally have to get used to in Thailand but sometimes I am just too German for that (yes, I’m an impatient stereotype with bad anger management and low stress resistance – shit!).
Looking at the specific courses I took, it was nothing special considering my Background from my home university. But let’s say 3 out of 6 courses were really fun and a pleasure to take part in (the other half was, well,.. “interesting”). Anyway, you barely hear any locals answering questions (or posing them themselves) – they struggle a lot with English language and are usually playing with their mobile gadgets (but who doesn’t). However, locals are very nice when working with them and the Thai education is strongly based on group work – reminds me of Hofstede’s collectivistic Dimension (wtf!). Even though the educational standard is way lower than what I was used to, the semester gave me various new impression, plenty of experience especially based on ASEAN and its culture and even my alien feeling or the language barriers will help me to overcome future difficulties.
Long story short – for anyone interested in studying at Siam, here my list of pro’s and con’s (based on a comparison with my home university in Venlo, NL):
- University culture – all students are kind of like a “union” and support Siam University in every step they take. It’s a good feeling to be part of this – especially since I’m not used to it at all.
- The Campus – wow, it’s simply impressive! Everything looks really nice, having a “Peace-Garden” with arts and tons of palms, golden ornaments on the buildings, MASSIVE buildings in general (the campus is huge!!), modern equipment in the media library (even a large cinema section and newest touch screen computers or iPod-Music stations) and a great variety of services (three (or even four?) restaurants, banks, copy shops, media library, gym, supermarket,..). Yes – definitely a big fat plus compared to my home university!
- School Uniforms – maybe not in general a “pro argument”, but I enjoyed making this experience as I was never confronted with school uniforms beforehand. And since I got used to it very fast, it was not a big deal and even shortened my time in the morning as I did not have to search for clothes to wear.
- Food – very decent and very cheap. Definitely a plus when thinking about super expensive, old bread in my home university…
- The standard is far away from what I was used to. I did not have the feeling that I learned anything important about “Doing business”. Sorry Siam!
- Organizational things – that’s really a pain in the a** at Siam. Even if you want to do simple things such as getting the grades from your exams, it’s a loooong way till you reach your goal. It often feels like you are sent from person A to person B with no particular reason, just to keep you busy. That’s also pretty much Thai culture – when someone cannot answer your question (e.g. “how to get to blablabla?”), they rather send you in the wrong direction than admitting that they do not know it.
- The lecturing times – officially, it’s 2 ½ hours per class but they are often shortened to only having 1 hour, which is not particularly bad but since I mostly had 1 subject per day, it was annoying to have a drive for – in total – 1 ½ hours for getting there and being sent home that early. BUT – with my move to Supalai, that definitely changed.
- Class Rooms – even though the campus in general is kept very modern and looks beautiful, the class rooms are the opposite. Most of them are very old, with broken chairs and not really a place to feel comfortable. Oh, and did I mention the restrooms already? Better avoid them.
Okay, so far it’s 4 vs. 4 arguments – and now I would have to think about more but I guess that pretty much gives an overview to everyone interested in studying at Siam. My overall feeling was (and still is) very positive – it’s a great experience and all the people will at least try to help you with whatever issue you have. It may not be the best education you can get in the world, but for Thai standards it’s still a very honorable university and in the end, you gain so many experiences about culture and everyday life in Asia – and that is the greatest “pro” argument.
Studying in Thailand has taught me something for life.