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 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 student apartments surrounded by Thai students, in the lively student area by Chiang Mai University

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.

During the program, prior to your starting your internship you will also participate in an internship specific orientation.


Experience  living within an international community at a modern student apartment complex. Each TEAN student has their own room and shares a small common living area with a roommate. 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 at the beginning of the program.)

Just a five-minute walk to campus, each apartment has built-in furniture, a walk-in closet, refrigerator, air conditioner, TV, bathroom and WiFi. 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. Students can travel around campus on the free university shuttle.


All interns take the compulsory 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

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. Depending on prior experience, 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.

Eligibility: Note that this placement is most suited to students studying education or have experience in tutoring/teaching.

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.

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.

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!

Eligibility: Note that this internship placement is most suited to pre-vet and animal science majors.

Working with Children with Disabilities
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

Brynne Shannon

Assistant Program Manager

Chiang Mai TIP
Pun Pun

There’s no lack of organic, vegetarian options throughout the city, but Pun Pun Organic Restaurant stands out from all the rest. With two locations, one near Central Airport Plaza and the other behind Wat Suan Dok, Pun Pun’s restaurants are products of a small organic farm, seed saving, sustainable living and learning centre located 50 km north of Chiang Mai. The restaurants were created with the goal of supporting local organic farmers in the region as well as providing healthy dishes (no MSG, GMOs or preservatives) to the community.


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.

Lauren Gabell

Marketing Director & Thailand Director

Chiang Mai Tip
Cafe + gallery culture

Wander through the many sois (streets) that branch off of Nimmanhaemin Road and find yourself immersed in the world of cafe culture. Check out Gallery Seescape, Ristr8to and Nimmanian Club and experience the art that comes in a cup and on the walls!


What is your role? Tell us a little about what you do at TEAN?
My role at TEAN is a mix of marketing and in-country responsibilities since I am based in the Asia Pacific region. I oversee and help implement TEAN’s marketing strategy – everything from social media to print brochures – and since I am currently based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I oversee our Thailand program welcoming students while they’re here. I also help with our programs in other countries in the region as needed.

Tell us about your experience traveling and living in Asia Pacific?
I was born and raised in Australia, studied abroad in the U.S. and now live in Thailand. I have spent time working and travelling in New Zealand, China and throughout Southeast Asia including Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Singapore. Australia is an easygoing country to live where people work hard, but also play hard, with an active outdoorsy lifestyle year round. The natural beauty of New Zealand astounds me with every visit. But it’s the beautiful culture of northern Thailand that has kept me in Chiang Mai since 2012.

What has been some of the highlights to date during your time living in Chiang Mai?
Being a naturally inquisitive person with a career in international education, I developed a restlessness to live somewhere with a culture that was different to my own. Northern Thai culture is completely different. Even after living here for a number of years, I experience or see something that challenges me and/or satiates my sense of curiosity every day. I feel I have learned more life lessons in my few years in Chiang Mai than I did in my previous 30-something years in Australia and am grateful to live in a place that continues to inspire and challenge me – instead of being stuck in a predictable routine – every day is still an adventure!

What should every student not leave Chiang Mai without doing?
Most people will work through a bucket list of experiences that goes with exploring a new place (and you can find some of these in my 10 Free Things to Do in Chiang Mai blog post). But the best experiences that everyone looks back on are rarely the items you’ve checked off your list. It’s the everyday interactions with your favorite fruit smoothie vendor and the surprising conversations you have with your new Thai friends, when you realize that fundamentally we are much more similar than we are different, that will stand out in your memory.

What resources are available at TEAN to students who are unsure of where they want to study abroad?
TEAN staff have a lot of experience living throughout Asia Pacific and will take the time to answer your questions. We all want students to make decisions they are comfortable and satisfied with so you won’t find anyone at TEAN giving you a hard sell. We want happy students on our programs who made the right decision for them! In addition to staff, TEAN’s Global Ambassadors are TEAN alumni willing to answer your questions. You can also get a very visual idea of the experience abroad by looking at TEAN’s Instagram account featuring student photos from all our locations.

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