There’s no better way to truly experience a place than by working within the community. Discover Thailand by living, interning and studying in Chiang Mai, one of the country’s most charming and culturally rich cities. After a three-credit course introducing you to the inner workings of Thai culture and society, you’ll spend seven weeks in an internship servicing the local community often through a non-profit or non-governmental organization. Students also have the added option to study Thai and will live with a Thai roommate for an even more immersive experience. 


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 an introductory course on Thai culture and society on campus, surrounded by local students, while also experiencing course content brought to life through included program field excursions

Live off campus, in modern, two-bedroom apartments, with an English speaking local student, and glean an even deeper understanding of Thai culture

Provide a service to the local community with a seven-week internship focused on the needs of the community

Appreciate access to TEAN’s Chiang Mai Resident Director and other in-country staff for continued support throughout the semester

Program Details


Be introduced to Chiang Mai upon arrival with this one-day TEAN Orientation that combines useful informative sessions with intriguing introductory cultural experiences. You’ll revive your travel-weary muscles with a traditional Thai massage, jumpstart your knowledge of Thai Buddhism with a visit to one of Chiang Mai’s glittering gold temples and sample an array delicious Northern Thai cuisine.

The following day ISEAA and your Thai roommates run another orientation specifically introducing you to Chiang Mai University and the academic program.


Enjoy a unique living experience developed to help facilitate cultural immersion on a daily basis by living off-campus in a modern student apartment complex surrounded by local university students. Each participant has their own room and shares a small common living area with their Thai or TEAN student roommate. Thai roommates are Chiang Mai University students specifically engaged as TEAN Student Assistants who are on hand to assist all program participants assimilate into the new culture. TEAN students can apply to live with a Thai roommate. However most TEAN students will share their suite with another TEAN student.

Just a five-minute walk to campus, each apartment has built-in furniture, a walk-in closet, refrigerator, air conditioner, TV, bathroom and Internet. Within the complex you will find a lobby, meeting room, study room, fitness center and male/female swimming pools. Washers and dryers are also located in each apartment building and on the apartment grounds students can take advantage of convenience stores, restaurants, bakeries, laundry and ATM machines. The housing is located in a vibrant university area, with cool student cafés, awesome street food and restaurants all a short walk from your front door.

TEAN Staff

Upon arrival in Southeast Asia, you will be met by our on-site Resident Director 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.


About the Academic Program

  • The academic program is based at Chiang Mai University, founded in 1964 as Northern Thailand’s first institution of higher education and is now home to approximately 36,000 students.
  • Chiang Mai 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.
  • TEAN students are hosted by the Institute of Southeast Asian Affairs (ISEAA) at Chiang Mai University that offers courses on the history, culture and society of Thailand and Southeast Asia. The ISEAA courses are transcripted by Portland State University (PSU) in the U.S.
  • 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. Many local students travel around campus by bicycle or scooter. Alternatively, students can travel from class to class on the free university shuttle.


All interns take the three week course as an introduction to Thai Society and Culture.  Students wishing to take Thai language continue their Thai studies during their internship for an extra three weeks.

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 focusing 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: 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.


Placement Information

With Chiang Mai’s location in the geographic center of Southeast Asia, it allows easy access to Laos, Burma, Vietnam and Cambodia making it home to many non-governmental organizations focusing on social rights within the region. As Chiang Mai continues to act as a leader in human rights activism, placements in Thailand are best suited for students interested in working for non-profits, NGOs or service learning opportunities. Local placements range from working with refugees, teaching English as a second language, practicing art therapy or implementing local conservation strategies at national parks.

current placement options

In this placement, interns will work with a non-government, non-profit language and arts community learning center in Northern Thailand dedicated to assisting families and individuals who are refugees from Burma and members of minority groups of Thailand. The students ages are seven to adult, mostly Thai Yai, Burmese, and various other hill tribe groups. The students all have extraordinarily disadvantaged backgrounds and need all the help that they can get. The interns will usually teach a two-hour ESL class, 2-3 times a week. They will also coordinate community projects and assist with planning creative, educational extracurricular activities for students. Interns will gain experience with grant research and writing proposals as well as have the opportunity to assist with updating the organization’s website and various social media channels. A flexible and patient attitude is a must for this placement. 

In order to fully take take advantage of this experience working with refugees and/or minority populations, the intern must be ready to display a positive attitude and strong work ethic. This placement is ideal for students enrolled in Education degrees, with some teaching experience, and some knowledge of or experience working with refugees.

Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL)
Interns are usually placed at temple schools, which are officially registered with the Thai government, that often have many students from low-income, indigenous and hill-tribe families. This teaching placement is ideal for students seeking hands-on experience managing a classroom and lesson planning. Interns at this school will teach and assist Thai English teachers with lessons during the regular school day, but may also be asked to assist with English clubs or after school tutoring. The schedule may fluctuate from day to day and will be finalized once the placement begins. The goal of this placement is to provide the school’s students with access to a native speaker so that they may strengthen their pronunciation and vocabulary. The interns are also an ambassador of Western culture and will be asked to share information about their life at home. Upon arrival, a thorough teaching orientation is provided which includes sample lesson plans, online resources and information on how to best prepare as an English teacher in Thailand.

Although it is possible that you will be assigned a class to yourself, it is more likely that you will act as a teacher’s assistant. Usually approximate hours on this project will be five days a week, Monday through Friday. Actual teaching hours vary but will usually be two to three 1-hour classes per day, mainly in the mornings from 9 am until 2 or 3 pm. The remaining time will be spent at your placement location assisting other teachers as needed, planning future lessons, or grading. There are various extra-curricular activities that students are encouraged to take part in as well during and after school and you may be asked to assist in these programs or activities during the course of your placement. It is important for the intern at this placement to flexible and open minded.

Environmental Research/Conservation
In this placement, interns will work toward the goal of forest conservation in a local national park. Interns will have the opportunity to assist an organization that has been conducting research, workshops and various other initiatives to restore forests in degraded sites in Northern Thailand for the past fifteen years. This organization carries out research to develop and improve techniques to restore tropical forest ecosystems for biodiversity conservation, environmental conservation and carbon storage. This placement is very hands-on in a nursery setting as all interns will get involved this practical component of the organization. There are are few placement options within this organization:

  • Interns can work in this placement as an environmental education officer to increase environmental protection awareness among local communities and schools. You might guide nature walks or train volunteers and community groups involved environmental education.
  • This placement also welcomes public relations students who will improve and manage media and communiation for the organization. The public relations intern will deal with social media and website management, advertisement and events planning.
  • As a forest ecologist intern, you will study animal and plant species. You will conduct research, analyze data and complete surveys.

Interns in this placement will assist an artistic outreach organization that works with a wide range of social groups and humanitarian organizations in Chiang Mai. This organization’s mission is to promote expression and cultivate the creativity that lies inside individuals. The group uses art to create an atmosphere of inclusion and belonging where often there is none. Art is used as a catalyst for releasing and challenging personal and societal stresses whilst encouraging cultural changes and awareness. In this program, the intern will develop and teach art courses to marginalized groups. Various administrative responsibilities will be required as well.

The only requirement is an enthusiasm for what the organization does and a real appreciation for the arts as a tool for social change. There are opportunities for artists, art therapists, performers, musicians, writers, and everything in between. Unlike other placements, the art program works with a diversity of groups that focus on a variety of social issues.The intern will have the opportunity to work with various populations including Burmese refugees, indigenous hill tribe groups, children and adults with intellectual and/or physical disabilities and children from local orphanages to name a few. Interns will also work with children from various ‘temple’ schools across Chiang Mai that are unable to offer art as part of their curriculum.

For students with a specific interest or expertise in arts administration, this placement can be split between facilitating workshops and also helping with marketing, fundraising campaigns, grant writing and other daily office tasks.

Dog Shelter
This organization is a non profit organization working in Chiang Mai to reduce the overpopulation of street and temple dogs through sterilization/spaying programs while improving the health status of homeless dogs through vaccinations, medical care and feeding programs. The foundation also runs a rescue and adoption center taking in strays and encouraging locals to adopt a pet instead of purchasing puppies at the market.   Working at Care for Dogs is a hands on placement. Interns will be involved in walking, bathing, socializing and deticking dogs. Be prepared to get dirty and smelly…but get a lot of love in return!

Working with Disabled Children
This organization was originally founded as a foster care home for children with disabilities in 2007. The home now accommodates seven residential children, with physical and mental disabilities. A Thai manager and six caretakers from the local area work at the home full-time. This placement is best suited for interns who have experience with or exposure to physical therapies related to cerebral palsy, developmental disabilities or are otherwise extremely comfortable and passionate about these issues.

The home provides shelter, nutrition, hygiene items, clothing, shoes, meals, ongoing daily therapy and education in order to promote the full development and potential for each child. Interns will have the opportunity to work with a small group of children who have various physical and mental disabilities, including cerebral palsy and blindness. Interns are expected to assist in the daily care of the children, including feeding, playing, cleaning and bathing, and other tasks.

Events & Excursions

Village Homestay

During your Thai society course you will be transported to a rural village in your first week 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 some of your Thai roommates, and live with a local family for five days. During your stay, you will begin your Thai language studies while also becoming involved in community life by working on a service project within the village.

TEAN Events

Even though you are traveling abroad to work, you need some time to enjoy the local culture. The TEAN Internship Program includes a minimum of three unique and engaging cultural activities, including spending a day with Southeast Asia’s majestic elephants, a Thai cooking class and a day trip to hike Thailand’s highest mountain, Doi Inthanon.



  • 2.5 GPA
  • Minimum sophomore standing at a two-year or four-year institution at the time of participation.

Dates, Fees & Inclusions


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

Summer 2017 Dates

Application Deadline Feb 15
Arrival Day May 26
TEAN Orientation May 27
University Orientation May 28
Thai Culture Course May 29 June 16
Internship Begins June 19
Internship End Date Aug 4
Program Ends Aug 5


$4,990 without the language course
$5,400 with the language course

What’s Included

  • Full Tuition for 3-credit course (plus 3-credit Thai language if selected)
  • Internship placement
  • Guaranteed pre-arranged, off-campus student housing
  • Overseas health insurance, plus evacuation and repatriation insurance
  • Services of local Resident Directors
  • One-day TEAN Orientation Program with meals, activities and transportation
  • Wireless internet access in housing
  • Local SIM card provided upon arrival with initial credit for your own unlocked phone
  • Three-day Thai village homestay (as part of academic course)
  • Cultural events throughout the program (minimum of three)
  • Extensive pre-departure counseling and information
  • ISEAA 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 semester
  • A truly one of a kind adventure!

What’s Not Included

  • International Airfare (approx $1,200 – 1,800)
  • Electricity in housing (approx $150, but depends on usage)
  • Meals (approx $350)
  • School uniform (approx $30)
  • Local transportation in Chiang Mai (approx $60)
  • The ISEAA grade report is included. If you need a U.S. college transcript, one can be provided through Portland State University for $150.

We Love Chiang Mai

Shannon Diegel

Program Manager

Chiang Mai TIP
Arttitude Gallery & Cafe

Arttitude functions both as a gallery that features month long exhibitions of local artists, and a cafe with premium quality coffee, desserts, and cold pressed juice cocktails (non-alcoholic) that are named after famous paintings. With an artistic theme and great prices, Arttitude is located on Nimmanhaemin Soi 5 next to Ristr8to Lab – a popular coffeeshop.


What inspired you to teach abroad in Thailand?
As I was about to graduate from school I knew that I wanted to work in International Education. I spoke with the study abroad office at my school to ask them for advice and they encouraged me to pursue more international experience. I knew I wanted to be challenged everyday and to go someplace very different from my current environment.

What did you learn about yourself living abroad?
Everyday I experienced something new. At first, I found that by not speaking the language I struggled to make new friends, but it pushed me outside of my comfort zone. It was hard for me to feel like myself, but through that I learned that it is okay to feel uncomfortable. I continued to work at making my new city home and eventually, I made some really great friends, developed my own community, and was able to enjoy my new city. When I left Bangkok it was as difficult (if not more difficult then when I left Chicago). Even years later I miss my neighborhood, my friends, and the food almost on a daily basis. I was able to make a home for myself in a completely different place than where I grew up and I learned I am lot more confident than I had given myself credit for.

What advice would you give to someone looking to break into the field of International Education?
I have found that there are so many people in International Education who are willing to sit down and have a talk with you and give advice. When I decided in college that I wanted to go into the field I met with the Provost of International Programs. Then when I came back from Thailand I met with some people at the University of Minnesota to ask them about their work on a daily basis and they sent me to go and meet with someone who worked at AFS-USA to gather a different perspective. Pretty much everyone that I asked to meet with me not only made the time to talk with me they also introduced me to someone else to speak with. It is from talking with people that I learned about SIT Graduate Institute and decided to apply for their Master’s program in International Education. It was a great environment to meet others who were passionate about the field of International Education and we all came from very different backgrounds which surprised me. So in general my advice is to talk to as many people as you can! While the industry can seem very small, I have found it to be a very friendly and welcoming place – so just do your research and ask someone to coffee.

What destination is next on your travel bucket list?
After working at TEAN, I want to see New Zealand next. I have learned so much about this country from working at TEAN. I am not sure if I would ever have enough courage to do the Nevis Bungee in Queenstown, but I am looking forward to the hikes, views, food, sheep, and wine tasting.

Pongsdhorn (Kai) Lertsukon

Resident Director - Thailand

Chiang Mai Rock Climbing

For the climbing enthusiasts (and curious), Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures (CMRCA) is a great place to find bouldering within the city. This climbing gym is built for an adrenaline rich indoor adventure in the southwest corner of the Old City near Chiang Mai Gate. Admission and equipment rental is extremely affordable because it’s run by an organization that is dedicated to building a climbing community in Chiang Mai.

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