At the time of writing this, the spring semester at Prince of Songkla University (PSU) in Phuket, Thailand is already halfway through! We chatted with one of our current students, Asel, to hear what she has been up to. Read about social and cultural activities organized by Prince of Songkla University and check out Asel’s stunning photos!
Thank you for agreeing to take part in the interview! Can you first tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Asel, I’m 33 years old and I’m from Stockholm, Sweden.
Why did you decide to study abroad and how did you pick PSU/Phuket?
I have previously been working as a freelancer for over 8 years with photography and retouching. I’m still freelancing abroad as a retoucher. I was in Phuket one year ago for a training boot camp, which was an amazing trip. I spent 30 days training and living the simple life, although I felt that I didn’t really integrate with the Thai culture that much.
I realized I didn’t have much to tell about Thailand as a culture when I got back home. So I started to search for a way to go back and actually learn something about a place that so many of Scandinavians go to every year. Then I found Asia Exchange through Study International. I found out that PSU offers a program that was exactly what I was looking for. There is a lot of cultural exchange in our courses, and what I love the most is that our classes are mixed with Thai and international students.
Prince of Songkla University is very active in organizing social and cultural activities for students. Can you tell us something about the activities so far, now that we are approximately in the middle of the spring semester?
The first week at PSU we had orientation days, where we were given an overview of the university and how everything works. I think it was very well organized and we got a lot of help to settle in.
The best part was “the buddy program”. It’s an activity hour held by Colin [one of the teachers at PSU], where we get teamed up with a “buddy”, a Thai student. My buddy’s name is Wan, the best guide ever. She has been helping me a lot, like when I was searching for a place to stay, she would drive me to 5 different places. We have also been having a great time eating, partying and getting to know other Thai students and people through her. You never feel alone or disintegrated when you have a buddy, especially when you are new to the Island.
My buddy reintroduced me to the great habit of meditation. We spend Thursday evenings meditating together at a meditation center in Chalong. It’s nice to have this similar interest to share with each other.
It feels great to get the chance to take part in different events here. The university organizes a lot of seminars about which we are informed frequently by email, so you never miss out on info which is great.
And then we have Colin Gallagher who has been a great support and a wonderful event manager for us international students at PSU.
What has been your favorite activity/event so far and why?
The list of the events we got to take part in is long, here are some of them.
A weekend you can’t miss is the Homestay. It’s a weekend spent in Phang Nga where we stayed at a Thai family’s house for 3 days. You spend breakfast, lunch and dinner together and help out in cooking the food. You learn to cook Thai sweets with the grandmother of the host family. We had activities during the days, like picking mussels for dinner and taking a ride on the river. We were shown magical spots and watched the sunrise from a viewpoint that’s just something else… it was a perfect weekend.
We had other really touching activities like visiting Asia Center Foundation, which is a school where children who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to get an education can study. We spent an afternoon there and had a great time playing and painting with these incredibly happy kids.
One fun activity was the “Safe Sex Campaign” organized by Colin. It’s a popular event. Plenty of Thai and international students all working together in groups, packaging condoms and information flyers in plastic bags. It was great to see everyone gathered and working all together for such a good cause. It was time well spent.
What do you think is the most important thing you have learned by participating in these events?
My favorite activity so far has been the Homestay weekend. It was a great opportunity to get in touch with the Thai culture that way. We got the chance to live like a Thai person for a few days, and learned a bit about food traditions and so on. For those who want to get to know more about Thai living, this a great chance.
You get to know yourself better by participating in these events. There are a lot of different people and cultures you get to meet here besides the Thai, which gives you an opportunity to widen your views and knowledge about yourself and other cultures.
The semester is not over yet. What are your expectations for the upcoming activities?
There are 2 months left now, and first up to celebrate is the Songkran, the water festival, in April. It’s going to be a wet story to tell I guess! ?
Would you recommend studying at PSU for our readers?
I would really recommend it to anyone who is interested in getting in touch with a culture that is so friendly and forgiving and yet so hard to understand sometimes. Take the chance and study here at PSU! The university is pretty well organized and life is simple. You should be open-minded when entering this culture. Things don’t work the same way as back home and you should adapt to that. That makes it easier to get to know the real Thai culture.
Thank you for the interview Asel!
Do you want to study abroad in Phuket and experience the famous paradise island first-hand? Read more about studying in Phuket: