Thailand | Thammasat University


With midterms approaching soon, I wanted to focus more on my experiences with Thammasat University. Thammasat has two main campuses, but the international campus is called Tha Prachan, where almost all the international students attend. The campus is not too large and is located near the Grand Palace, which is about 5 miles away from the city center. It takes a little under an hour to commute to downtown Bangkok.
Thammasat has one main library and other libraries within each department. There is free printing and access to wifi throughout the campus. Classrooms are quite small, which is a large contrast from most classes at UCLA. My classes typically range from 15-30 students. Each professor has his or her own teaching style, but I find the pace of the semester system here to be slower than the quarter system at UCLA. Classes are taught in English and a large amount of professors are international professors who are experts in their field of study.
My political science and Thai language courses mainly focus on one midterm, several quizzes, a presentation, and a final. For midterms and finals week, students have the entire week off of classes depending on their department. Thammasat University has a lot more holidays than what we have at UCLA. These holidays, such as University Games and the Songkran Festival, are usually week-long breaks. This makes traveling much easier. This past break, I was able to visit Myanmar just before my midterms week. Below are some pictures from my trip.

Rachel Tang studied abroad in Bangkok, Thailand, in spring 2017:

Thailand | Cuisine of Thailand


One of the most enjoyable things about living in Thailand has been my experience with its cuisine. What makes the food even better is how inexpensive it is. Depending on where you are, meals typically range from 50 baht (~$1.40 USD) to 200 baht (~$5.70 USD). One can easily find other types of food (such as Western, Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, etc.), but I believe Thai food is an experience of its own.

Ordering food is quite easy, as menus will typically have English next to Thai script. Pictures also make it easy to order. A typical sit-down Thai restaurant will often have simple rice/noodles/soup dishes accompanied by a type of meat cooked a certain way. Thais love to stir-fry their food, which is delicious but also makes finding fresh vegetables difficult.

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of foods here aren’t terribly spicy; however, some dishes may be unexpectedly and extremely spicy. It’s useful to learn how to say “not spicy” in Thai (mai ped), depending on your preferences. I’ve had some friends here who were vegans and vegetarians; being a vegan here is difficult but my vegetarian friends have gotten by just fine because there are tofu dishes, curries, etc.

“Pad Thai Tip Samai” is a very famous place in Bangkok for pad Thai. What I ordered was pad Thai wrapped around in an omlette, and it has been my favorite pad Thai here so far.

The food court at Thammasat University also offers a large variety of dishes. My favorite is a simple dish of stir-fried water spinach mixed with pork, served with rice. The meals at university are even cheaper than normal prices because the school receives subsidies. Most meals are around 35 baht (~$1.00 USD). I also love to order desserts and snacks during my breaks in between classes. My favorite is this warm, sweet banana topped with coconut milk.

Below are some more of the desserts I’ve had.

Rachel Tang studied abroad in Bangkok, Thailand, in spring 2017:

Thailand | First Week at Thammasat University


This past week, I started school at Thammasat University under the Faculty of Political Science. Although I had almost two months worth of winter break, it was refreshing being back at school again. I am taking five courses here (the majority of them focused on international relations). I was able to fit all of these classes from Wednesday to Friday, therefore I will have four day weekends. A good thing about having classes only three days a week is the fact that I won’t have to go to campus as often. My apartment is a 25-minute walk away from campus, which can be uncomfortable when the weather becomes even hotter and more humid. I also have the option of taking a ferry to class, which is fun but it takes about the same amount of time to walk. If I’m running late to class, I can take a taxi but try to avoid using it every day, since it is the most expensive option. The cafeteria food at Thammasat is very delicious. There are many options and all of them are cheaper than most street food, which is already quite inexpensive. Although all of my classes are three hours long, each one of my professors allow 15-25 minute breaks. I will usually have lunch in the cafeteria in between my morning and afternoon classes, and then return to the cafeteria for a snack between each break.

I also met my Thai buddy this past week. Her name is Belle and she has been extremely kind and helpful. We decided to go to a shopping plaza in central Bangkok. She showed me how to take a speedboat (which is a faster version of the ferry aforementioned) and the sky train (which is like the metro but it’s elevated above ground-level). The shopping plaza was called Siam and consisted of over 4 different shopping malls/areas. The malls here are beautiful and remind me a lot of home. I’ve noticed that a lot of Thai students enjoy going to malls after class, where there is so much shopping and a wide variety of food options in the food courts.

Rachel Tang studied abroad in Bangkok, Thailand, in spring 2017:

Thailand | First Two Weeks in Bangkok


My name is Rachel Tang and I am currently participating on a UCEAP in Bangkok, Thailand. I will be studying at Thammasat University for the spring semester of 2017.

It has been exactly two weeks since I’ve arrived in Bangkok and I could not be happier with my decision to study abroad here. What compelled me to move halfway across the globe was a different way of learning that combines the traditional academic setting with real world experiences. As a Political Science major with a particular interest in Southeast Asia, I chose Thailand due to its unique history and culture. I am eager to learn as much as I can within the next several months and hope to inspire others to see the world and study abroad as well.

My pre-departure experience was quite smooth. Submitting the required materials was simple and I was off to Thailand sooner than I knew. Once I arrived, however, navigating my way from the airport to my apartment was slightly more challenging. The taxi is one of the common modes of transportation in Bangkok, which is something that I was unfamiliar with before. Regardless, I was lucky enough to encounter friendly Thais who assisted me in finding my way.

Once I arrived at my apartment, I began to settle into my spacious single (moreso a studio than an apartment). There is no kitchen, but it works out quite well because eating out at restaurants and vendors here is delicious, convenient, and inexpensive. I didn’t know anyone prior to arrival, since I was the only UCLA student participating on this program; however, I met many other UC, out of state, and international students the following day at the first orientation. It has only been two weeks, but I can say that I have befriended such great individuals who all have similar interests to learn, travel, and contribute positively to this world.

There were three mandatory orientations: one for all spring international students, one for all UC students, and one for your respective department. Although they seem overwhelming, each one was particularly useful, ranging from basic cultural knowledge to enrollment of courses. My favorite was the UC orientation, where we got to meet our abroad liaison, Professor Thanet. He was extremely kind and helpful, going as far as setting up internship opportunities for us.

I had my last orientation only several days ago, as my official first day of classes don’t begin until this Wednesday. I’ve had quite a bit of time to settle, in which I chose to travel and explore. My friends and I have made a trek last week to Chiang Mai and Pai up north, and to an island called Ko Samet this past weekend.

There is so much to do and so much to see in this country—several more reasons as to why I chose to study abroad here. I’ve had an incredible time exploring caves, waterfalls, canyons, snorkeling, etc., all in the span of one week. My friends and I are already planning our next few trips on our weekends and holidays.

Despite all of my adventures that I have been enjoying, I am excited for classes to start. I will be taking 4 Political Science courses and 1 Thai language course. I’m very interested in learning not only about Thai government and politics, but also politics of other regions through a Thai perspective. I also am eager to practice my humble Thai language skills. Through my experiences so far, it is fun and rewarding when you make an attempt to speak in your host country’s language. For the remainder of my time here, I am making it a goal for myself to seize any opportunity to learn and immerse myself.

Rachel Tang studied abroad in Bangkok, Thailand, in spring 2017: