“We were from a dozen different countries and a hundred different ideas and things to talk about”
Heikki studied abroad at Prince of Songkla University in Phuket, Thailand during spring 2011. He comes originally from Finland and studied at the Tampere University of Technology. Read his story below.
I was on an Asia Exchange study abroad semester in Phuket, at the Prince of Songkla University, for the first time during the spring of 2009. The first time I did it, I fell in love with the place. I also met my girlfriend Saara during the exchange and when she had the opportunity to do her required internship in Phuket, she asked me whether I’d go with her again. I decided to do another semester in Phuket, which also complemented my course requirements at Tampere University of Technology.
Everything came together after Saara’s internship at a local diving company in Phuket, Raya Divers, was confirmed. I got my acceptance from Asia Exchange a couple of days after sending in my application.
Asia Exchange guarantees a successful academic exchange in an interesting location and provides all the essential information for your study abroad semester. The students have to take care of their travel arrangements on their own but, for example, all the course information was provided by Asia Exchange that made the credit transfers easy to arrange with my home university. I’d like to thank both Asia Exchange and my home university for an excellent service!
We found a cozy two-bedroom apartment in Chalong, about 15 minutes from the campus. The most diving companies operate from Chalong so the location was excellent considering Saara’s work. The monthly rent was about 18 000 B for the first couple of months but during the low season (May-August) we were able to haggle it down to 15 000 per month. In addition to the rent, the water and electricity costs about 1000 a month.
The study abroad semester in Phuket started like it had two years ago, with getting to know each other, the island and the university. The orientation week ended in a weekend trip to Phi Phi Islands – the ‘Ice breaker’ weekend. It was really great to see how diverse the group was. We were from a dozen different countries and a hundred different ideas and things to talk about.
The studies began right after the orientation week. The schedule for our classes was very well planned: we had four days of classes and a long weekend every weekend.
PSU has a comprehensive selection of courses taught in English and the international students study together with the Thai students. The very high level of the academics may have been a shock to may, after all, we were on a paradise vacation island. I think everyone agreed on it being the perfects package: excellent courses and an outstanding environment to learn.
I completed three courses during the semester: International Business, International Economics and Strategic Management.
Our professor Mary was from the United States and had an excellent grip on the subject. The course covered a wide range of topics and was very interesting. We had group assignments that we had to work on outside the classes, and the course in general required some serious studying. We also had a couple of presentations we had to give out – very good practice on speaking in front of a crowd. All in all, this course was very well executed!
The professor, even though Thai, had done his degrees in the United States and many of the classes emphasized the importance of interaction, discussion, and learning how to argue a point. The atmosphere during the whole course was relaxed but intense at the same time, you wanted to come to class prepared. The course was an excellent experience and we also got to visit a local hotel and interview the hotel management. Very useful and fun.
The course was comprised of two sections. The first six weeks were normal classes after which we moved on to a computer lab where we got to try out the things we had learnt via a computer simulation program. The course was very well planned and introduced us to various aspects in management.
The options for free time activities are pretty much limitless in Phuket. There is surfing and wake boarding of course, and a lot of students also jogged and worked out at gyms. I really liked everything to do with the ocean, especially diving. There are different groups for almost any imaginable sport, hobby and or activity due to the Westerners that live in Phuket year round. This made it very easy to try things you hadn’t before.
The Prince of Songkla University in Phuket is a brilliant place to go on a study abroad semester. I’ve personally proven this twice now. The classes are of high quality, very interesting and as challenging as similar courses in Europe.
I can only recommend going on an exchange to Phuket via Asia Exchange. If you want to see some palms and smiles while getting your transfer credits, Phuket is the place to be.