Sunday, August 23, 2015


In the spring semester of 2015 I completed my mandatory exchange studies in Bangkok, Thailand at the prestigious Chulalongkorn University. The oldest and arguably the most known university in Thailand is located in the heart of Bangkok city, and when I mean heart I really mean the center of the city. Located within an arm’s reach of MBK, and Siam Paragon shopping malls, the campus is massive and beautiful at the same time. In a way it blends in to the city because even long time Bangkok residents are not always familiar where exactly the campus is even though they have surely passed it on numerous occasions. The school was founded back in 1917 (ironically same year as my home country Finland gained independence), by King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) who named it after his father King Chulalongkorn,  and features nineteen faculties and institutes. In the past the tradition was that the King would hand diplomas to the graduates however currently it is so that the current king’s daughter Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn handles that role. Thailand is a country that values traditions and this is no exception when it comes to its most prestigious University.

I spent one semester at the University yet never really explored the campus, I had no idea it was so vast and full of life until one day when I drove around exploring all the different features it boasts. The campus life is booming, Thai students love spending time on their beloved campus and it shows. You can spot students easily as they wear the traditional white button up shirt with men wearing black straight pants and girls either wearing a long or short skirt. On any given day you can see traditional Thai cheerleaders practicing choreograph in the outdoor weather, or when you near the sports facilities there is non-stop commotion. It’s just like any other modern university campus with an Asian twist of traditions that shows. The campus buildings are built in the traditional Thai styling featuring pointy roofs with vibrant colors; however once inside the building they are indeed state of the art classrooms made to accommodate and assist students with their studies. The school’s alumnus features a long list of well-known figures ranging from royalty, politicians to actors.

I really want to show everyone the campus itself not necessarily talk about the school and its studies, however I can in brief tell you that the school follows the American curriculum system and grading. All the professors are highly educated and accredited graduates of such universities as Yale, Oxford, Columbia, Harvard, Cambridge, and so many more. Also majority of the teachers have side businesses that they had already established before becoming full-time teachers meaning that they have real experience in the field that they teach and best of all contacts that students can surely utilize. Chula is known to have some of the more famous and rich students within Thailand and while this may be true there is plenty of others as well. Around 38,000 students currently are enrolled at Chula so it is not only a university for rich and the privileged as many see in fact it is the mixture of students that makes it so terrific, everyone can blend in and find their spot no matter what their supposed social status is.  This is also with the help of the numerous clubs arranged by either the school or students themselves, currently there is around fourty clubs that students can pick and choose from ranging from Buddhism and tradition clubs to the cheer club that has been arranging the traditional Chulalongkorn-Thammasat football match since 1934!

As an exchange student in the sea of Thai students it is quite easy to be overwhelmed by everything that’s going on or lack of knowing, however I can through first-hand experience tell you that whatever your hobby is or that you are interested in go and find out if they offer or practice it. I myself wanted to pick up basketball again and all I did was ask around and next thing I know was that I was slated to play in the BBA faculties’ annual basketball game versus Thammasat and found myself couple times a week in the extremely hot indoor gym playing pickup ball with local students. This is my message to anyone and especially exchange students, GO OUT AND TALK TO THE THAI STUDENTS, DON’T WAIT FOR THEM TO APPROACH YOU! Thai students and people in general are very inviting and generous, get out your comfort zone and see what they like to do or if you have anything in common with them. I guarantee the experience will be better than you could have expected. Now that saying, Thai students are very shy and group-minded, it is hard to approach girls and boys outside of class as they like to stick to groups but once you do approach them they will surely be just as interested in you as you are in them.  Thailand is after all the land of smiles.

The campus itself is endowed in a leafy park like closure; the buildings are not only Thai traditional but a mixture of Italian revival. For the plant nerds the campus has tons of different plants and trees planted within the campus from tropical to less tropical ones. The centerpiece of the whole campus is the sitting statue of King Chulalongkorn which is surrounded by pink flowers that represent the color of the school. Of all the trees surrounding the campus the most noticeable is the rain tree which happens to be the mascot of Chulalongkorn University which is very traditional in Thailand. Daily you can spot tourists and others wandering the campus greens snapping photos and marveling at the site of it, as I mentioned the campus is located in the center of Bangkok city and I recommend anyone who walks by to take a visit as it is a nice change from the bustling and sometimes hectic city life.