As we get to know you through the application process to study abroad, it’s only fair that you know a bit about us too! Read on to learn more about the programs team behind all the emails and phone calls and our in-country staff who you will get to know during your time in Thailand. And, of course, feel free to contact us anytime if you have questions!
Meet Team Thailand
Brynne Shannon is a TEAN Thailand alum. She fell in love with the people and culture so much that it drove her to return to Thailand and teach English after she graduated from uni. Being the only foreigner in a small, rural town, she pretty much stuck out like a sore thumb. Her year abroad taught her invaluable life lessons, one of them being that you can’t always trust the English on a Thai menu (“chicken tendo” is NOT chicken tenders) and that laughter is a universal language. But the greatest lesson she learned was to “bend with the wind” and not take everything so seriously. She came back with a fresh perspective and a broader global view, and truly strives to help students see the bigger picture. In her free time you can find her exploring her new home city of Chicago, snapping photos of everything and anything she sees along the way.
Where did you study abroad?
I studied abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with TEAN. I wanted to go as far away as I could and experience something totally different than what I had grown up with. I had always been drawn to Asia, and after some research I decided that Thailand was the perfect place for me. I also lived in Lampang, Thailand upon graduating and I’ve traveled to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia.
What inspired you to teach abroad?
I came back from my semester abroad feeling like my time in Thailand wasn’t finished. I knew I wanted to go back to Thailand after I graduated and the more I spoke to people who had taught English abroad the more I knew it was a good fit for me. I wanted to challenge myself and have an even more culturally immersive experience the second go around, and I also wanted to give something back to a country I fell in love with while studying abroad since it had given so much to me.
What makes Thailand a great place to study abroad?
Thailand is great because it forces students to step out of their comfort zone and learn more about the world and themselves as individuals. Not only are you experiencing a new culture, but you’re learning a new language, alphabet, cuisine, social norms, interactions, ways of life, etc. It seriously puts things into perspective. Thai people are some of the kindest and welcoming people you will ever meet – hands down. They make the experience so special and you can learn so much from them. Living in Thailand teaches you to slow down and enjoy what’s happening in the now and be thankful for what you have and who’s around you.
What should be on every student’s bucket list for a study abroad semester in Thailand?
A hike up to Wat Palad. This temple is on the way to the more famous Wat Doi Suthep, which sits on top of a mountain, but Wat Palad is tucked away in the forest surrounded by trees and a rushing waterfall during the rainy season. Students can hike up to the temple from their housing or hire a songteow to take them up the mountain. It is one of my favorite places in the world because of how quiet and serene it is. To me, it captures the essence of what Buddhism is all about. You can sit on the rocks and dip your toes in the waterfall while looking out at the spectacular view of the city that peeks out between the trees.
What is your favorite travel quote?
It’s not necessarily a travel quote, but one of my favorite Thai expressions I learned was “mai long, mai rue” which means “If you never try, you never know”. It inspired me to just say yes to everything and go for things even if I didn’t know what the outcome would be.
Kate Hilby (aka Hilby) is a TEAN alum who studied in Melbourne and has been working as a Program Manager for TEAN for the last six years helping students study in Asia Pacific. She recently returned from a year living and working from New Zealand. She is excited for students to discover Southeast Asia and help you study abroad in Thailand. A bucket list travel item for her is being in Chiang Mai for the Loi Krathong and Yi Peng festivals.
Tell us a little about what you do at TEAN?
I currently work on our New Zealand, Fiji, Japan and Southeast Asia programs. My role as team lead and Program Manager is to make sure everything on these programs is running smoothly working with our team. It includes everything from making sure students have pre-departure information on time to making sure they submit all of the items they need to study abroad (i.e. transcripts, courses, contracts, arrival details, payments, visa confirmations).
Where did you study abroad?
I studied with TEAN in Melbourne, Australia at Deakin University. It’s a more traditional campus, just outside the city but being able to live in the city and commute gave me the best of both worlds. Honestly, Melbourne has something for everyone – think sporting events, art, music, theatre, comedy, laneway cafes/restaurants/bars, shopping, the list goes on. Melbourne is consistently ranked as one of the world’s most liveable cities, so why wouldn’t you choose to study there? If you’re looking for a Melbourne equivalent in New Zealand, check out Wellington known as the coolest little capital in the world. It’s a smaller city, but that makes it an easy city to get around by foot. It’s a very accessible city for study abroad students.
What brought you back to Melbourne to live and work after graduation?
When I graduated, I knew I wanted to return to Australia. My time studying abroad had given me that exposure to living abroad and I wanted to spend more time there as a professional. For my career, It was great to gain work experience at a university abroad. I’m so glad I went down this path or I might not have ended up at TEAN today!
Packing for study abroad is always a challenge and popular topic, as a frequent flyer – what insider tips do you have for someone packing for the semester?
I’ve become pretty good at packing light over the years since there have been so many times earlier on where I’ve overpacked. I took half of my closet and never touched the majority of it. You will hear the advice – pack everything you think you’ll need then take half of it – and it’s so true. My other advice is to pack articles of clothing you can mix and match to create different outfits to help reduce items. Also try to keep the shoe situation under control, they take up a lot of room. Bring a couple pairs that are super versatile (and comfortable).
If you were going to study abroad tomorrow on a TEAN program where would you go?
I’m biased, but I would study on one of our New Zealand programs. Since working with our TEAN New Zealand students, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to New Zealand several times and have visited all program locations. I also recently lived in New Zealand for a year based out of Auckland. I love the idea of going for a semester, joining a tramping club on campus and getting out into the beauty of New Zealand in my free time!
Nasorn (Nala) Promtang
Thailand Resident Coordinator
Originally from Bangkok, Nasorn, or Nala, first got her taste of studying abroad at 16 she went to Sydney for a summer English program. When she turned 18 she decided to follow her travel dreams and journeyed through Bali a la Eat, Pray, Love. Later, during a 6-month break in university, she travelled again to Bali, as well as Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore, blogging about her experience in Thai as she went. Nala graduated from Chiang Mai University with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and is now back in Bangkok, sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for travel in the region with TEAN students.
What is your role at TEAN?
I’m the Thailand Resident Coordinator, and take care of students while they’re here, lead student events and help students to better understand Thai culture.
What is the best part of your job?
I love being able to connect with students and share with them the best of Thailand and Thai culture!
What do you think makes Chiang Mai a great place for students to study abroad?
Chiang Mai brings together a variety of people and backgrounds which makes it a unique place to stay. It also supports the ‘slow life’ lifestyle – people here are friendly, willing to help, and take time to relax and enjoy themselves. It’s hard to be stressed here! The best part about the city for me, however, is the food. Food here is cheap, freshly made, delicious and available any time of the day!
What local tips would you give to someone who is visiting Chiang Mai for the first time?
Relax and don’t plan your travels too much. Things always change and it’s better to go with the flow. When in doubt, this is Thailand, just smile your way out of a miscommunication or problem.
What is your favorite free activity to suggest to students in Chiang Mai?
Hiking up Doi Suthep in the early morning to see the sun rise and catching every free concert playing in Chiang Mai.
What has been a favorite memory from your travels in Asia?
Definitely my first time traveling alone in Bali using “Eat, Pray, Love” as a guidebook. I met a lot of cool people, had a chance to stay in a beautiful cabin in middle of rice fields and learned to scuba dive.
Originally from Australia, Lauren’s passion for international education was ignited after studying abroad as an undergrad. Lauren has worked for the international offices at both Monash University and Deakin University, in Melbourne, Australia. At Deakin University she was responsible for developing the study abroad program, and marketing the university in Europe, North America and Thailand. Lauren joined TEAN in 2006 and has been involved with TEAN’s programs throughout Asia Pacific.