In the period from mid-May to the end of August 2013, I completed a voluntary semester abroad at the College of Management at Mahidol University (CMMU) in Bangkok in the 3rd semester of the Marketing Management master’s course.
For the application to the CMMU I had to send the following documents to MicroEDU , who then checked them and forwarded them to Bangkok: current grade overview, proof of English (TOEFL), letter of support from the home university (issued by International Affairs), certificate of enrollment, copy of passport, as well as a short application form from Mahidol University (including pre-selection of courses). In addition, the “Exchange Student Application Form” had to be filled out and sent on the CMMU website. Just over a week after I had sent all the documents to MicroEDU , I received the acceptance – the Letter of Acceptance. Visit anycountyprivateschools.com to get information about Croatia higher education.
Now it was a few weeks to watch the flight prices on various websites, such as http://www. swoodoo. com/ and http://www. statravel. de/, in order to find the best offer. Ultimately, I decided on an Emirates flight from Düsseldorf with a stopover in Dubai for € 553. At STA Travel, this was the cheapest for students (with ISIC ID), as well as the option to be able to change bookings later for only 50 € service fee.
With the flight confirmation and the letter of acceptance, I finally had the missing documents for the visa application. You can easily apply for a visa by post at one of the Thai consulates in Germany. A list of the documents required for this can be found on the following website, for example: http://www. thaikonsulathamburg. de/visa. html. Since I’m in Thailand for more than 90 days, I have opted for the non-immigrant visa with multiple entry. Cost, currently € 130. Even though I was a little worried about the envelope with my passport and the € 130, I found my passport including visa in my mailbox about 10 days later. If you have any questions, e. g. filling out the visa application, you can also call the consulate at the local rate and they will advise you. Since the visa expires 90 days after entry, you have to leave Thailand and re-enter in order to be valid again for 90 days. For example, I flew to Kuala Lumpur for a few days and got a stamp with the new validity in my passport when I re-entered Thailand. An extension is also possible by land, e. g. when traveling to Cambodia.
After I had received my visa, I could now start looking for accommodation. Since most of the students at the CMMU are already working, the university does not provide student dormitories, etc. However, there are some recommendations on apartment complexes on the website of the International Relations Office (http://www. cmmu. mahidol. ac. th/ir/index. php/iro-info-and-services/accomodation). Together with my boyfriend, I decided on a 2-room apartment in the “C Residence”, which we found on the website mentioned above. We were able to reserve for the desired period without any problems by e-mail (+ deposit by bank transfer). Together we pay just under 20,000THB per month, which corresponds to around € 500. A 1-room apartment is available in the same building for around 10,000 THB. This includes furniture, Energy water. The apartments are very new and built to western standards. So you can feel very at home there. However, when choosing an apartment, I strongly advise you to choose a location near a BTS or MRT station, as even small distances are much more strenuous to cope with due to the heat than you are used to in Germany. From the “C Residence” you walk, for example, 15 to 20 minutes to the BTS “National Stadium” from where you can drive to “Victory Monument” or “Sanam Pao”. A free shuttle service to the university by mini van is offered at both stations, the current location of which can be viewed on your mobile phone: http://www. eye-fleet. com/east/ibs. htm. You can also walk from the “Victory Monument”, for which you have to plan another 20 minutes. It is also a bit more convenient to take a taxi. From the “C Residence” to the university you only need about 20 minutes and pay just under 80 THB (2 €). It is best to have a printout of the CMMU map in Thai on hand. To make sure that the taxi drivers also switch on the taxi meter and that they do not set an advance price (usually 100 THB), simply say “taxi meter ka”.
Four days before the start of the lectures it was finally time to get on the plane. The best way to get to the city center from Suvarnabhumi Airport is with the Airport Express and from there you can continue by BTS, MRT or taxi. After checking in to our apartment, we first did a bulk purchase at the Tesco Lotus to get the basics from toilet brushes to forks. If you still have some space in your suitcase, I recommend taking a sheet and a duvet cover with you (it’s quite expensive here!). For the women among you, a supply of razor blades and shaving foam is recommended. The latter is apparently not really known here. Everything else can be found in supermarkets, drugstores etc. in Thailand as well.
The next day the first trip to the CMMU was due, because there an orientation meeting had been prepared for all exchange students (in our case no less than three (!) In number, in the fall semester 2013, however, 43 are expected). First we got a little introduction to Thai culture and then the “International Affairs” team introduced themselves, who would be our contact for questions and problems (you have to say that the colleagues have done a really good job and always with problems could help!). We were given our student ID cards, which also serve as access cards for the CMMU premises. Furthermore, we received our lecture plans with the courses from the preliminary course selection that we had specified in the application. Within the next week, we were able to reconsider the course selection and, if necessary, make changes. All three exchange students made changes, which was easy to do. Finally we received an invoice for the tuition fees (700 THB / course), which you have to pay in cash in a bank branch of the SCB Bank. There are 2 ATMs in front of the university, from which you can withdraw a maximum of THB 25,000 (plus THB 150 fee). It is best to take the phone number of one of your contact persons at the CMMU with you to the SCB, in case
One day before the start of the lectures, the university organized a full-day excursion for us exchange students to bring us closer to the country and culture. In the morning we visited the impressive “Grand Palace” in Bangkok’s “Old Town” and were able to learn a lot about Thai cuisine at lunch afterwards. In the afternoon, after a 1½ hour drive, we reached the historic Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand. There we visited various temple ruins and got a good overview of Thai history from our really extraordinary tour guide. We ended the evening with a boat trip followed by dinner in a great fish restaurant. What a great welcome!
Three days after arriving in Bangkok, it was already time to start lectures! I chose the “ Service Marketing ” and “ Marketing Channel Strategies ” events“Marketing Management. Service Marketing is given by a very dedicated French lecturer. In addition to learning basic concepts, the course also includes some in-class workshops in which what has been learned must be applied to practical examples. In addition to participation and in-class workshops, the main component of the grade was a case study from a service company that had to be worked on and presented in a group of around 5 students (there was no final examination in this subject). Group work in Thailand is a little different than in Germany. In principle, all group members are never there on time, which, however, usually has to be blamed on the terrible traffic, and you work out the content for the most part together, instead of dividing the tasks individually. The fellow students usually come to the meeting unprepared, so that one should plan not just 1, but rather 2 – 3 meetings for a lecture. Marketing Channel Strategies mainly deals with various sales channels and factors that should be considered when choosing them. In addition to the lectures, the focus was on group work in which the introduction of a foreign product into the Thai market was to be simulated. We also had a few guest lecturers from large Thai companies who were able to enrich them with detailed practical knowledge. This subject was concluded with a three-hour examination in which material from the lectures had to be partly named and partly applied to examples. Since the exam was an “open-book exam”,
In general, it can be said that the (marketing) lectures at the CMMU are very practical and case studies and in-class workshops ensure that what the students have learned can also be put into practice. Countless “Syndicate Rooms” are available for group work. In the building there is also a completely English-language library where you can research and work. The Thai students take 3 lectures per trimester, with which you are also well served as an exchange student if you want to get to know the country and its people in addition to the university. I was very happy with my choice of courseand through the group work I came into contact with very nice Thais. What I find a bit of a shame, however, is the limited opportunity to acquire knowledge of the Thai language at the CMMU. The exchange students receive three hours of free language lessons from a university employee. Unfortunately, since she is not a trained language teacher, the learning success is limited and I have therefore declined the offer to attend additional language lessons with her for a fee. So if you really want to learn the language in a short time, you should attend a language course in Germany and continue it here.
Leisure activities in Thailand will probably mainly consist of travel, as the courses, which usually take place on weekends, allow you to explore the country during the week. Thailand is a very diverse country, in which you can explore diverse landscapes from mountains, lakes and national parks to paradisiacal islands. In the north, for example, a visit to Chiang Mai is a good idea (definitely go to the Elephant Nature Park!), In the periphery of Bangkok Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi and Hua Hin are worth a trip and if you would like to go further south, the area around Explore Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga. For diving enthusiasts or those who just want to become one, a diving course on Koh Tao is a must! In Thailand you can get around cheaply by train or bus and there are also some low-cost airlines, such as AirAsia and Nok Air, which serve regional destinations.
In conclusion, I have to say that the stay abroad at the CMMU was a good decision. On the one hand, I had the opportunity to choose subjects that are not offered at my home university and to get to know the teaching and learning style of another culture, which was an interesting enrichment for me. On the other hand, I have been able to experience the hospitality of the Thais and the beauty of their country through many trips, and it is certainly not the last time I have been to this beautiful piece of earth.