St. Lawrence University offers students the opportunity to study for a semester in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Students will enroll at the Institute of South East Asian Affairs at Chiang Mai University, which collaborates with IPSL.
Students spend a fall or spring semester in Chiang Mai, studying Thai culture, language, and society at the Institute of South East Asian Affairs at Chiang Mai University and engaging in substantive volunteer service in a wide range of community development agencies and NGOs. Students in Chiang Mai can study Thai, 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 that goes well beyond that experienced in traditional study abroad programs. Students have the opportunities to study the Thai language and to live with a Thailand roommate, study with other international students, as well as to experience a short homestay with a Thai family during the program excursions which makes for a multicultural experience.
- Based in Chiang Mai
- Fall or Spring semester
- Pre-requisites: 2.8 GPA; One Asian Studies course OR another course that specifically prepares for studying on this academic program.
- Must take Thai language while in Thailand
- Live with 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 the cultural capital of Thailand and 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 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
Empire and Colonialism in SE Asia-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)
Where are all the Women? Religion and Social Change in Asia (3 credits)
Buddhism in Southeast Asia (3 credits)
The Philosophy and Development of Empire, Imperialism and Colonialism in Southeast Asia (3 credits)
Self-Exploration through Visual Art and Culture of Thailand (3 credits)
International Relations of Mainland Southeast Asia (3 credits)
The Government and Politics of Thailand (3 credits)
Institutions of Thai Society (3 credits)
Short 1-credit module:
Sex Work, Trafficking and Rescue in Southeast Asia (1 credit)
Popular Culture in Southeast Asia (1 credit)
Buddhist Meditative Traditions in Southeast Asia (1 credit)
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
Collaborated with the Institute of South East Asian Affairs at Chiang Mai University, IPSL service-learning™ will provide SLU students service learning opportunities in Chiang Mai. Placements are determined, in part, by student interests and skills (and, in some cases, language abilities), but primarily by community needs. Central to the philosophy of service-learning™ is the notion of service. The service in service-learning™ may or may not be career-related, the service – is as important as the student’s learning.
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 includes some day trips to nearby sites and overnight excursions to Bangkok (spring semester) or Sukhothai, the former capital (fall semester), and to a lowland and upland village in Northern Thailand. Visits to an elephant rescue camp as well as a multi-day excursion to Mae Sot, the border area with the Burmese refugee camps.
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 rated among the top 5 universities in the country and CMU is proud to have produced 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).CMU is a large, research institution with over 36,000 students.
Students live in modern apartments very close to the campus of Chiang Mai University with a Thai student roommate. The apartments accommodate both international and Thai students, and are situated near plentiful inexpensive cafes and open-air eateries that are plentiful (and delicious) in Thailand. 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 that is known for their English-speaking doctors and good care is called Ram 1 Hospital and it's 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 (Suthep Road, Soi 7) so that can easily be accessed if need be. In fact, pharmacies are a "dime a dozen" in Chiang Mai so they are readily accessible.
At Thai hospitals you will 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 if you are nervous about taking something unfamiliar. 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 your 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 utilized 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 filling a clam with their insurance company (CISI in the case of IPSL students).
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 medical pre-existing 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
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(s) in which the students will learn more about the program, local culture, academic expectations, and any other important information. There is also an orientation session lead by the CIIS office on culture shock, and what to expect, as well as safety and security while abroad.
On-site: Orientation takes place the first week of the semester in Chiang Mai University and includes the following:
Students arrive on Wednesday-Thursday before the first week of the semester (Thai roommates pick students up at the Chiang Mai airport).
Friday-Saturday: Thai Massage & Visit to Elephant Park (fun "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 ISEAA (meet ISEAA Director and Program Officers).
Monday-On campus ISEAA program orientation (e.g, go over class schedule, registration, program policies); meet professors, library tour, etc.
Tuesday-Saturday: Northern Thai Village Home Stay Excursion (learn about rural life in Thailand)
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 Asian Studies - Questions about eligibility, program logistics, and other off-campus opportunities.
Faculty Coordinator: Dr. David Henderson - Questions about program academics.