St. Lawrence University offers students the opportunity to study for a semester in Chiang Mai, Thailand, at the Institute of South East Asian Affairs at Chiang Mai University, a public university accredited by the Ministry of University Affairs of the Royal Thai Government.
On this program, you will spend a fall or spring semester in northern Thailand, studying Thai culture, language, and society and engaging in substantive volunteer service through community development agencies and NGOs. You can take electives in gender and sexuality, human rights, and other courses focused on social justice and refugee rights. And the volunteer service immerses you in the culture and deepens your understanding of Thai society. Along with studying the Thai language, you will also live with a Thailand roommate, study with other international students, and experience a short homestay with a Thai family.
- Based in Chiang Mai
- Fall or spring semester
- Pre-requisites: 2.8 GPA and one Asian Studies course OR another course that specifically prepares for study on this academic program
- Study the Thai language while in Thailand
- Live with a Thai roommate
Located in the north of Thailand and founded in 1296 as the second capital of the Lanna Kingdom, Chiang Mai or "New City" is a cultural capital of Thailand and the second most important city in the country after Bangkok. Nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains that form the foothills of the Himalayas, Chiang Mai is a cultural and natural wonderland bustling with ethnic diversity, a fabulous food scene and welcoming hospitality.
Thai Language 3 credits
Service-Learning Institutions in Thai Society 3 credits
IPSL Reflections / SL Practicum Seminar 3 credits
Elective Courses: (3 credits each, must select 2 courses)
*Courses vary slightly by semester
Thai Language 2 (Reading and Writing)-3 credits
International Relations of SE Asia-3 credits
Government and Politics of Thailand-3 credits
Self-Exploration through Visual Art and Culture of Thailand-3 credits
Thai Dance-2 credits
And two Buddhism/Religion and Society courses to be taught by our new professor (exact course titles/descriptions forthcoming)
For more details on the Course Offering information on IPSL: https://www.ipsl.org/thailand-academics
The grades from IPSL for the Thailand program come back as “letter” grades so here is the conversion to SLU grades:
A = 4.0
A -= 3.75
B+ = 3.25
B = 3.0
B- = 2.75
C+ = 2.25
C = 2.0
C- = 1.75
D+ = 1.25
The Institute of South East Asian Affairs at Chiang Mai University works in collaboration with IPSL, an educational organization serving students, colleges, universities, nonprofits and other service agencies around the world by fostering programs that link volunteer service to the community and academic study . Service placements are determined, in part, by student interests and skills (and, in some cases, language abilities), but primarily by community needs. Please be aware that service-learning is different from an internship; the main goal of service-learning is to serve the local community.
Travel and Excursions
Guided academic excursions, accompanied by Chiang Mai University professors and staff members, occur throughout the semester and may include visits to famous monasteries in the Chiang Mai area, hill tribe villages, and other sites of interest in the mountainous region of the north. Class-related work may include some day trips to nearby sites and overnight excursions to Bangkok or Sukhothai, the former capital. Other travel may include a visit to an elephant rescue camp as well as a multi-day excursion to Mae Sot, a border area that is home to a number of Burmese refugee camps.
Each semester includes a longer break for which students can plan their own travels.
Chiang Mai University
Founded in 1964 as northern Thailand’s first institution of higher education and the country's first provincial university, Chiang Mai University (CMU) offers students the opportunity to study at one of the top academic centers in Thailand. CMU is a large research institution with over 36,000 students, and is proud to have national political leaders (including one prime minister) and prominent business executives among its graduates. Nestled amongst the northern hills of Thailand and in the cultural heart of the country, CMU is located minutes from Chiang Mai’s city center. CMU has four campuses, and SLU students will study at the main campus (Suan Sak Campus).
Students live in modern apartments very close to the campus of Chiang Mai University with a Thai student roommate. The apartments are situated near plentiful inexpensive cafes and open-air eateries. There are also many services on campus and in the dorms, including a post office, banks, cafes, fitness rooms, a pool, hair salons, stores, laundry service and much more.
Health Care Information
All IPSL students should use their Cultural Insurance Service International (CISI) travel health insurance and can access any hospital in Chiang Mai through a reimbursement system. The closest one to the student dorms is the Sriphat Medical Center, which is part of Chiang Mai University's Faculty of Medicine. Here is their website:
The other major hospital in Chiang Mai, known for their English-speaking doctors and good care, is called Ram 1 Hospital, and it is just around the corner from the Sriphat Medical Center. Here is their website:
For minor issues, there is a pharmacy located on the same street as the dorm, and many others around Chiang Mai.
At Thai hospitals you receive medication in small bags. Each bag has the name of the drug on it. If it is something you don’t recognize, it is easy to look it up on the internet to find out what it is. After you have picked up your medications, you are free to leave the hospital. Be sure to print out a CISI medical form for the attending doctor to fill out and be sure to request a formal receipt (in English) for services, as this will be necessary documentation to submit to CISI for a reimbursement.
Limits to coverage
Check with CISI for specific details.
For information on another hospital in Chiang Mai, see this website:
International health insurance policies can be used at most hospitals in Thailand. Students should check with CISI before studying abroad for a list of hospitals in Thailand that have direct agreements with their coverage provider. Otherwise, students will likely be subject to a “reimbursements system” whereby they must be prepared to pay for their medical fees upfront and then get paid back later by filing a claim with their insurance company.
CISI is a medical and limited dental policy that covers treatment necessary (as a result of illness, accidents) only while abroad. It does not cover any preventative treatments such as prescription medication or vaccines prior to departure. Therefore, it will not cover Japanese Encephalitis immunization. It has limited dental (only for repair/restoration because of accidents), nothing for routine preventative care or pre-existing conditions. It has limited coverage for pre-existing medical conditions as well.
It does cover emergency evacuation (of all kinds—illness, accident, natural disaster, political unrest, etc.) and repatriation.
Note: For non-traditional therapies students might consider (although insurance will likely not cover such treatments) the Chiang Mai Ayurvedic Center (http://www.detox-chiangmai.com/)or Absolute Health Integrative Medicine
Please click here to find the calendar
The semester break for the spring 2018 program is from Saturday, 7 April to Sunday, 22 April (classes resume on Monday, 23 April)
It is recommended that you do not have friends and family visit you during the semester, as you will be very busy with your school work and service. It is better if they visit you in Thailand after the program finishes or during the semester break.
Pre-departure: The CIIS office organizes in-depth orientation sessions on-campus prior to the students' participation in the program. This includes a program-specific session in which students will learn more about the program, local culture, and academic expectations. There is also an orientation session led by the CIIS office on culture shock, and what to expect, as well as on safety and security while abroad.
Student visas will be handled by IPSL. Students receive a single-entry visa and will get their visa extension on-site about one month after their arrival. If students plan to travel to other countries, they can also obtain re-entry stamp on site.
If students plan to apply multi-entry visa, they have to apply the visa on their own.
On-site: Orientation takes place the first week of the semester in Chiang Mai University and includes the following:
Students arrive on Wednesday or Thursday before the first week of the semester (Thai roommates pick students up at the Chiang Mai airport).
Friday-Saturday: Thai massage & visit to an elephant park (or other "soft-landing" activities).
Sunday: Welcome activities on campus led by Thai students at Chiang Mai University (campus tour, etc.) and dorm orientation in the afternoon led by the director and program officers of the Institute of South East Asian Affairs.
Monday: On-campus program orientation (class schedule, registration, program policies); meet professors, library tour, etc.
Tuesday-Saturday: Northern Thai village homestay excursion
Following Monday (Week 2): CLASSES START
If you are interested in learning more about the Thailand program please contact one of the following people.
CIIS Office: Helen Huang, Director of Asia Programs International And Intercultural Studies - Questions about eligibility, program logistics, and other off-campus opportunities.
Faculty Coordinator: Dr. David Henderson - Questions about program academics.