Dive into Thai culture and the colorful world of Southeast Asia by living and studying for the summer in Chiang Mai, one of Thailand’s most charming and culturally rich cities. While studying your choice of Southeast Asian-related courses focusing on a range of topics including Buddhism, human rights, public health, environmental conservation and more, you’ll receive not only interesting coursework and instruction but a unique perspective and understanding of the region. Combine that with relevant field trips that bring your courses to life and you’re sure to have one incredible summer abroad.


Spend your summer in Chiang Mai, a city that blends a modernizing country with traditional Thai culture, and gain an understanding of Thailand’s past, present and future

Study on campus, surrounded by local students, while also experiencing course content brought to life through included program field excursions

Select from two housing options – a modern student dorm complex or for more independent living, a new condo complex, both a five-minute walk from campus and each other

Learn more about the fascinating histories, belief systems, cultures and issues impacting Southeast Asia through a variety of available courses

Benefit from access to TEAN’s Chiang Mai Resident Coordinator and other in-country staff for continued support throughout the summer

Explore Thailand's stunning beaches and islands with an optional three-day excursion

Thailand Southern Islands Optional TRIP

A stay in Thailand wouldn’t be complete without visiting the country’s stunning tropical islands. For students completing Session One, or both sessions, spend three-days staying in beautiful Krabi, and exploring the islands of the Andaman Sea. See details below.

Students Say
"I learned about Thai history and culture, had a Thai roommate, and made new friends across the United States and the world."
Monea Kerr, Western Washington University

Program Details


Be introduced to Chiang Mai upon arrival with an Orientation that combines useful informative sessions with intriguing introductory cultural experiences. Experience a sensory overload as you visit a local market, jumpstart your knowledge of Thai Buddhism with a visit to one of Chiang Mai’s glittering gold temples and sample an array of delicious Northern Thai cuisine.


TEAN offers two different housing options in Chiang Mai: student dorms and independent condos.

In the student dorms most participants room with other TEAN students however those interested can apply to live with a Thai student for an even deeper cultural connection. (All TEAN participants will have a chance to connect with their local Thai peers through casual hosted events and outings at the beginning of the program.) In the condo complex students have their own room, bathroom and mini kitchen.

Just a 5- to 7–minute walk to campus- both accommodation options are fully furnished and located in a vibrant university area, but offer different living situations to suit your personal preferences.

Read More 

TEAN Staff

Upon arrival in Southeast Asia, you will be met by our on-site Resident Coordinator who will provide assistance throughout your time in Thailand. Through informal meals held together and excursions, our staff is readily available and able to assist you with any academic, social, or cultural questions or issues that you may face during your time abroad.


The program is hosted at Chiang Mai University, located in northern Thailand. Visit the google map link below to see the location.

View Map 


About the Academic Program

  • TEAN students are hosted by the Institute of Southeast Asian Affairs (ISEAA) that is based at Chiang Mai University. ISEAA offers courses on the history, culture and society of Thailand and Southeast Asia. The ISEAA courses are transcripted by Portland State University (PSU). All students will also receive a grade report from the Institute of Southeast Asian Affairs.
  • Chiang Mai University (CMU) was founded in 1964 as northern Thailand’s first institution of higher education and is now home to approximately 36,000 students. The university is ranked by Thailand as 3rd in the country for academics, 5th for research output, and is the number one university outside of Bangkok.
  • Nestled at the foot of Suthep Mountain, just minutes from Chiang Mai’s city center, the university is surrounded by an eclectic student-focused hub of affordable hip cafés, street food and night markets. Spread over 725 acres, the university boasts verdant parks, countless student cafés, and a mixture of buildings. Students can travel around campus on the free university shuttle.


summer 2018 Courses

This program can be taken as a three-week (3 credits) or seven-week (6 – 9 credits) experience. Students can take one course from each session. Students wishing to take Thai language in addition to their other courses must participate in two sessions as the course is designed to stretch over six weeks of study. There is a one-week break between Sessions 1 and 2 where students can take time to explore Southeast Asia beyond Chiang Mai (or participate in TEAN’s optional Southern Islands excursion).

To request syllabi for any of the below courses, complete this form and indicate the classes you need the syllabus for.

Session One*

Select one the following courses:

  • Cultural Foundations of Thai Society
  • International Relations of Mainland Southeast Asia
  • Buddhism in Southeast Asia

* Course descriptions below.

Session Two*

Select one the following courses:

  • Human Rights in Southeast Asia
  • Public Health in Southeast Asia
  • Thai Dance
  • Environmental Conservation and Sustainable Development in Southeast Asia
  • Buddhism, Sexuality and Gender in Southeast Asia
  • Government and Politics of Thailand
  • A Laboratory for Empire: Colonial Southeast Asia
  • Southeast Asia Art: Power, Merit and Religion

* Course descriptions below.

Sessions One & Two
  • Thai Language
Course Descriptions

3 credits. Duration: 3 weeks
This course introduces students to Thailand through a general survey of topics on Thai culture and society. The course combines classroom lecture and discussion with a variety of field experiences in Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand. It will focus on the changes and continuity of cultural practices and the major institutions of the country. Themes to be analyzed include history, politics, customs and identity. This course will also spend significant time examining ecological, social and economic transitions now underway in mainland Southeast Asia with emphasis on Northern Thailand. Class presentations and field studies will examine how semi-wild landscapes and traditional cultures are being affected by infrastructure development and increasing reliance on the market as a source of livelihood.

3 credits. Duration: 3 weeks
Mainland Southeast Asia comprises the countries of Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam. The region is hemmed in by China in the north and India as well as Bangladesh in the west. Though most peoples in this region share Theravada Buddhism as a common religion, their cultures and languages are vastly different. Except for Thailand, these countries have also experienced colonization while all the states have had wars with other states or insurrections. This course frames the issues of conflict and conciliation in mainland Southeast Asia, with particular but not exclusive focus on Cambodia and Thailand, by utilizing the lenses of Realism, Pluralism, Neo-Marxism, and Social Constructivism to explain and predict events in the region.

3 credits. Duration: 3 weeks
A unique and historically connected form of Buddhism exists in mainland Southeast Asia. Called Theravada Buddhism, it has been a significant force in the culture and lifeways of Southeast Asian peoples. This course will first give a broad overview of the main beliefs and practices of Theravada Buddhism along with its establishment and development. The second part of the course will look in detail at the history and contemporary developments of Buddhism in each of the Southeast Asian countries where it is the religious majority: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar. Along with Theravada Buddhism, this course will cover significant periods of history within these four countries and Southeast Asia in general. We will consider contemporary issues within these four countries relationship with Buddhism including social engagement, roles for women, and meditation practice.

3 credits. Duration: 3 weeks
This course will examine why human rights abuses are possible on such an enormous scale and with such terrible intensity in Southeast Asia and, in particular, Myanmar (Burma), either through direct mistreatment or criminal neglect of the population. Given the rise of Asian powers like China and India in what has been dubbed the “New Asian Hemisphere,” Southeast Asia, located between the two giants, is the perfect place to study the intersection of all that has gone amok in Asian politics.

3 credits. Duration: 3 weeks
The Thai government defines health as the state of physical, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing. This course explores what wellbeing means to the Thai people as well as the historical and cultural context from which that meaning is derived examining Thailand’s public health challenges and successes, including (but not limited to) topics such as HIV/AIDS, the 100% Condom Campaign among sex workers, LGBT health issues, Thailand’s model of universal health care, women’s rights to health, and the health situation of migrant workers and refugees on the Thai-Burma border.

3 credits. Duration: 3 weeks
In this introductory course, students will approach and expand their dance technique via interdisciplinary methods and experience Thai arts, culture and history through the principal techniques and styles of Thai dance. The class will focus on dances from different regions, including Central, Northern, Eastern and Southern Thailand.

Note: You do not need to have a background in dance to take this class.

3 credits. Duration: 3 weeks
This course examines trends in biodiversity conservation in Southeast Asia including an overview of grassroots efforts focusing on sustainable living in the region. Home to an estimated 30% of the world’s biodiversity and a number of unique natural environments, including the world’s largest archipelago, highest number of islands and longest coastline, the shifting economic situation in Southeast Asia has caused significant changes for the region’s demography, agricultural practices and land-use, urbanization trends, biodiversity and social capital. These changes interact in complex ways and, together with the uncertainties associated with climate change, lead to far-reaching systemic consequences impacting livelihoods, social-ecological resilience and health.

With this in mind, course themes will include transdisciplinarity, system thinking and sustainability, ecosystem-based natural resources management, agriculture intensification and globalization, and linkages between biodiversity, health and disease. The course will combine open discussions, lectures and field excursions to provide students a holistic learning experience while studying in Thailand.

3 credits. Duration: 3 weeks
With over 90% of Thais identifying as Buddhist, Thailand is known for being an overwhelmingly Buddhist country and the religion plays an important role throughout all aspects of people’s lives. Thailand also has an international reputation for being very accepting of gay and transgender individuals. What is the relationship between these aspects of Thai society? How does Buddhism influence people’s understandings of gender and sexuality? And how does one’s gender and sexuality influence how she or he practices Buddhism? These are the questions we will explore in this course. We will read important texts to see how scholars have addressed the relationship among Buddhism, sexuality and gender, and also travel to meet with monks, educators, activists and others to better understand how they see Buddhism, sexuality and gender influencing one another in Thai society today.

3 credits. Duration: 3 weeks
The Thai nation emerged as a social construct, grouping together various peoples under a common political identity. Since World War II, the country gradually stabilized, both politically and economically. Thailand today has fast emerged as a thriving economy, an evolving constitutional monarchy, and an increasingly important player in the regional politics of Southeast Asia as well as an actor on the larger world stage. As such, Thailand represents a significant case study of a “second generation” developmental state, following Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. This course examines the evolution of Thai governmental structures as well as Thailand’s political and socio-economic development over the last 75 years. Prominent themes will include key democratic institutions (political parties and elections) as well as the role of civil society in the democratization process. A short section will also examine Thailand’s crisis today and its contentious issue.

3 credits. Duration: 3 weeks
There is no better place to study the effects of empire and colonialism than Southeast Asia. Likewise, one cannot understand Southeast Asia today—including Thailand—without knowing something about the long history of colonial rule and imperial ambition in the region. Southeast Asia has long been a crossroads of cultural exchange, global trade, and world religions. Week 1 begins with an introduction to the history of the region, the deep historical connections to neighboring India and China, and the pre-colonial states that developed in both mainland and maritime Southeast Asia. In Week 2 we examine the early contact between Southeast Asians and the West, and the tremendous rise in trade that gave rise to imperial wars and colonial rule in and among the islands of the region, leading to colonial expansion into the interior by the 19th century. Finally, in Week 3 we examine the high colonial era and the nationalist resistance it engendered. We conclude the course by exploring the legacies of empire in the region, in the 20th century and into the present.  Included in the course is a three-day excursion to Sukhothai, Thailand.

3 credits. Duration: 3 weeks
This course serves as an examination of the arts of mainland Southeast Asia, focusing largely on the countries of Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar. We will look at the arts of the Bronze Age,the impact of Indian religion and language on early kingdoms, and the long lasting influence of Theravada Buddhism in the region. Over the three-week course, students will learn the answers to such questions as: How did Khmer kings express their power? What role does merit play in our understanding of Buddhist art? Is there a difference between art produced for kings and that produced for the common people?

3 credits. Duration: 6 weeks
This course provides an introduction to the Thai language with emphasis on spoken language competency as related to daily life in Thailand. The course is designed for students with no prior knowledge of the Thai language.
Students must be taking a course in both Sessions One and Two to be eligible to take Thai language across both sessions. Students will then earn 9 credits for the three courses.

Program Excursions

course related field trips

All courses include field trips – either day trips or multi-day trips. Those with multi-day field trips are indicated below.

Cultural Foundations of Thai Society (Session One)
Those students enrolled in the Cultural Foundations course will travel to a rural village for a three-day homestay experience. While Thailand is modernizing at a rapid rate, at least 70% of the country’s population still lives in rural villages and a true introduction to Thailand could not be complete without experiencing and understanding Thai village life. Students travel to the village, along with ISEAA staff, and live with a local family for three days, two nights. During your stay, you will be involved in community life and experience Thai daily life. 

Public Health in Southeast Asia (Session Two)
In the second week of classes student travel to Khon Kaen, a regional city in Isaan (Northeastern Thailand), to learn about community health in rural Thailand. Previous visits and meetings during this field trip have included the Ubonrat district health development project, Nam Phong village settings, the Traditional Medicine Dept of Khon Kaen Hospital, a community based parasitic infection control program in Lawa Lake district as well as discussions with local academics, students, and community health workers.

Human Rights in Southeast Asia (Session Two)
In the second week of classes students travel to Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle for three days.

A Laboratory for Empire: Colonial Southeast Asia (Session Two)
In the second week of classes students travel to Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle for three days.

Southeast Asian Art (Session Two)
In the second week of classes students travel to Sukhothai, the birthplace of classical Thai culture.

Buddhism in Southeast Asia (Session One)
This course includes a one night trip to Li District in Lamphun Province to expose students to the Buddhist temples, villages, and lives of the key figures in the Northern Thai resistance movement to the Buddhist hierarchy or “state sangha” from Bangkok. The overnight stay at a forest temple will afford exposure to another vital Buddhist movement: the Thai Forest Movement.

The above are sample itineraries and exact visits/organizations can vary from year-to-year.


Elephant Nature Park
Spend the day at Chiang Mai’s most ethical elephant park – the Elephant Nature Park; a natural home and sanctuary for elephants and other rescued animals. Observe free roaming elephants that have been rescued from around Southeast Asia, feed them and even help with bath time. (This is included for all Thailand summer students.)

Doi Inthanon Day Trip
Head to the highest peak in Thailand, and spend the day hiking in the national park with a local guide – stopping at waterfalls, and visiting a Karen (hill tribe) village. (This activity is included for students who participate in two sessions – the 7 week program.)

In addition, TEAN staff will arrange a ‘coffee break’ during each session. This is a chance to head out to one of Chiang Mai’s hip cafes – catch up with TEAN staff, and be treated to coffee and cake.

Thailand Southern Islands Excursion

Thailand Southern Islands Optional Trip

A stay in Thailand wouldn’t be complete without visiting the country’s stunning tropical islands. Utilise the break between study sessions to spend time down south staying on the popular Railay West Beach, a lush oasis only accessible by boat. After a speedboat journey exploring the islands of Andaman Sea, known for its unbelievable turquoise waters and striking karst cliffs, fill the rest of your days relaxing on Railay Beach, kayaking to Phra Nang Beach, lounging by the pool and simply soaking up the island vibes. Students can then continue their one-week break with independent travel, extend their stay on the beaches, or return to Chiang Mai with the TEAN guide.

The trip includes flight from Chiang Mai to Krabi, transportation to Railay Bay, accommodation for three nights, islands speedboat excursion, special group meals and more. Get ready for your island getaway!

Note that to participate in this excursion students must be enrolled in a Session One course.



  • 2.5 GPA
  • Students with lower GPAs may be accepted. Contact us for more information.

Program Dates


TEAN has a rolling admissions process. We recommend submitting your application anytime from January for Summer applications. Earlier applications will be accepted. Late applications may be considered. Contact TEAN if the application deadline has passed.

Summer 2018 dates

Early Application Deadline Feb 1
Application Deadline Mar 15
Students taking the 7 week program – Sessions 1 & 2
Arrival Day May 25
TEAN Orientation May 26
University Orientation May 27
Session One Starts May 28
Elephant Nature Park visit Jun 2
Session One Ends Jun 15
Travel Break Jun 16 Jun 24
Optional Thailand Southern Islands Excursion Jun 16 Jun 19
Session Two Jun 25
Doi Inthanon Day Trip Jun 30
Session Two Ends Jul 13
Program Ends Jul 14
Students taking the 3-week Session 1 program only
Arrival Day May 25
TEAN Orientation May 26
University Orientation May 27
Session One Starts May 28
Elephant Nature Park visit Jun 2
Session One Ends Jun 15
Program Ends Jun 16
Optional Thailand Southern Islands Excursion Jun 16 Jun 19
Students taking the 3-week Session 2 program only
Arrival Day Jun 22
TEAN Orientation Jun 23
University Orientation Jun 24
Session Two Starts Jun 25
Elephant Nature Park visit Jun 30
Session Two Ends Jul 13
Program Ends Jul 14

Fees & Inclusions

summer 2018

One Session*^

Two Sessions*^
Early Bird Special
Must apply online, submit your transcripts and pay the $500 program deposit before February 1, 2018

Standard Fees

*Students that enroll in the Public Health course will be charged an additional $300 due to the additional field trip costs for this course.
**Students that enroll in two sessions plus take the Thai Language 1 course will be charged an additional $650 for the language course tuition.
^Students who live in the condo housing will be charged an additional $200 per session as this is an upgrade from the student dorm.

What’s Included

  • Full tuition (3 – 9-credits on a  Portland State University transcript)
  • Guaranteed pre-arranged, off-campus student housing
  • Overseas health insurance, plus evacuation and repatriation insurance
  • Services of local Resident Directors (available 24/7 for emergencies)
  • Orientation Program with meals, activities and transportation
  • Wireless internet access in housing
  • Local SIM card provided upon arrival with initial credit (student to bring an unlocked phone)
  • Field trips as specified for your selected courses
  • Elephant Nature Park one-day visit
  • Doi Inthanon trekking day trip (Sessions 1 and 2 participants only)
  • Extensive pre-departure counseling and information
  • Chiang Mai University student ID card, with access to all university facilities
  • Readings for all courses (provided as pdfs to download)
  • ISEAA academic grade report at conclusion of program
  • Credit approval and transfer assistance
  • Help with student visa preparation
  • Financial aid transfer planning
  • Airport pickup and transfer to accommodation in Chiang Mai and airport transfer at end of program
  • A truly one of a kind adventure!

What’s Not Included

  • Airfares (approx $1,200 – 1,400)
  • Electricity in housing (approx $40/session)
  • Meals (approx $150 – 200/session)
  • School uniform (approx $30)
  • Local transportation in Chiang Mai (approx $15/session)
  • Student visa ($80)
  • The Thailand Southern Islands excursion is an optional excursion. Approximate cost US$390.


TEAN Scholarships

In addition to the current financial aid you receive, you may want to consider one of our many scholarships. Each year we award thousands of scholarship dollars to qualified program participants, including a full ride scholarship for a Fall or Summer program. Refer to our Scholarships information for details.

We Love Chiang Mai

Nasorn (Nala) Promtang

Thailand Resident Coordinator

Chiang Mai Tip

Get a group of friends together and head to Bully Bowling on the 4th floor of Kad Suan Kaew – the oldest shopping mall in Chiang Mai – for a guaranteed great time. Old school in its decor, this off the beaten path bowling alley serves up cheap Thai food and even cheaper games!

Brynne Shannon

Assistant Program Manager

Chiang Mai Tip
Wat Phalad Hike

Wat Phalad is one of the first temples along the nature trail that ends at Doi Suthep. It’s an easy half hour hike with a gorgeous reward. From TEAN housing you can walk up Suthep toward the mountain and eventually you’ll see signs for the nature trail – from there it’s all green bliss and tranquility!


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.

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