Thomas and Celina are German exchange students currently studying in Thailand. Here is a quick half-time greeting from these two travellers enjoying their exchange semester in Phuket.
The midterms have now been written and we just got back from a visa run. It is starting to look like half of our time in Phuket has already passed. Oh no! We are currently studying at the Prince of Songkla University in Phuket. Most Europeans know Phuket just for the tourism, and it is no wonder why that is – there is a lot of tourism here. Being here as a student though, we get to discover so much more than the typical sights that the package travellers always visit. To be honest, we have only visited Patong Beach twice – and that’s the place where most of the tourists tend to stay at. We are living on the eastern side of this beautiful place, close to Phuket town, a city with a various nice bars and busy night markets. This is the place where we spent many our evenings eating out, playing snooker, and having some cold drinks with friends. Sounds like a big holiday, doesn’t it?
One of the most commonly asked questions we get from tourists and friends back home is “Do you really study?”, and the answer is simple: yes. The Prince of Songkla University is one of the best universities in Southeast Asia. We have to do all kinds of assignments and some homework too in almost every subject. On top of that, we have 80% minimum attendance, so there is not much room for slacking. So although out of school we get to enjoy a relaxed Thai-lifestyle, and the workload may not be as heavy as at home universities, we are still studying full-time. Our lecturers are from UK, Australia, Eastern-Europe and Thailand. We would definitely like to mention Colin too, our lecturer in Intercultural Communication; he is really something special. He’s also our contact person for everything and informs us very well about any current university affairs, but also makes sure to keep us up to date on any events happening on the island. And he is often attending himself too so we all of the students have gotten to know him quite well! Thank you for being awesome, Colin!
One other thing that made us feel very comfortable about our exchange was that Harri Suominen, the managing director of Asia Exchange, came to Phuket in the beginning of this semester. He wanted to make sure that everything is okay with everyone and gave us an impression that Asia Exchange really cares about their students. To sum things up: PSU is a great university! The level of teaching itself should not be directly compared to the level of teaching in Europe, but the subjects you get to study here are different too. We also have to wear school uniforms which to many of the European students is a new experience. The way everything has been organised for us (for example the visa extensions) is very professional. The life at the Campus is intercultural; there are more than 50 nationalities at the Campus! The University also offers a buddy program: every international student can choose to join the program and get directly in touch with Thai students. Most of them speak English on a good level, and it is really interesting to get to bombard them with questions. Especially when both sides get out of the comfort zone many interesting conversations – and also critical conversations – are likely to happen. And by speaking with a local student you get to learn a lot more than your Lonely Planet or Marco Polo can teach you.
Phuket itself is definitely a very nice place. The accommodation options vary from cheap apartments to modern, western-style villas and apartments. You can get an extremely nice small apartment (about 50 square meters) with a pool and cleaning staff in a quiet location for about 600€ per month for two people – and everything in the apartment is brand new! A simple apartment for single occupancy in Phuket Town can be rented for as little as 75€ per month! Long term rental market is full of choices for everyone so there are many accommodation options from very basic housing to luxury living. Riding around with a motorbike is also a lot of fun! It may take a while to get used to the traffic but you shouldn’t be afraid: most people make the traffic sound a lot worse that it actually is…
Compared to most parts of Europe, the daily life here is extremely cheap. A nice meal from a local street restaurant will only cost you about 60 Baht (= 1,50€). It’s worth mentioning though that when doing your budgeting, make sure to count in traveling expenses too! When you are here, you are close to so many beautiful destinations that you probably will end up spending a fair amount of money on traveling. Most of us exchange students travel at least to Bangkok, Singapore, or Kuala Lumpur. Many visit some amazing paradise islands and other Asian countries too, as most destinations are reachable with a flight less than 3 hours long. We highly recommend you to reserve some time before or after your semester to explore other areas of Southeast Asia – it’s totally worth it!
If you want to find out more about what we are doing here, you can visit our Blog! We are blogging in German, but even if you don’t understand or are not willing to use Google Translate, you can at least take a look at some of our photos 🙂
(Thomas and Celina are students currently participating in an exchange semester at Prince of Songkla University in Phuket, Thailand.) Read more about the university below: