Southeast Asia Resources
So you're interested in studying in Southeast Asia? Get ready for the experience of a lifetime! Not only is this a region that's underrepresented in study abroad, it's incredibly diverse and there's no shortage of adventures!
One of the first things you might think about when considering Southeast Asia is your country of interest. In this region, we have programs in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, and Vietnam; that's a lot of options and a lot of diversity! While each of these countries is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), each one has its own unique language and culture. However, you can study abroad in English in each of these locations, so don't be intimidated if you don't speak Thai, Malay, Khmer, Vietnamese, or anything else!
You have several options when considering Southeast Asia, so it may depend on the length of program you are interested in, and also the subject you are studying. If you would like to take classes alongside other international students in a variety of subjects, we recommend looking at our exchange options (or direct enroll). These include Mahidol University outside of Bangkok in Thailand, the National University of Singapore (which has an honors option), and Monash University Malaysia, which is the Malaysia campus of Monash University, based in Melbourne, Australia. You can go on any of these programs for a semester or even a year! This is a great way to learn more about Southeast Asia, make local friends, and really be a part of life in this dynamic region. Pretty much everyone that visits Southeast Asia wishes they stayed longer, so this might be a great option for you!
If you are looking for something a little less independent, you can look at options through our two partners in the region, CIEE and The Education Abroad Network. CIEE operates two semester programs in Khon Kaen, Thailand, one focused on public health, and the other on development and globalization. CIEE also operates a summer program in public health in Khon Kaen. The Education Abroad Network has programs that focus on Southeast Asian studies, and you can spend a semester in Thailand, or a semester that is split between Thailand and Cambodia or Thailand and Vietnam - a great way to see two amazing countries in a single semester! TEAN's Thailand location is Chiang Mai, the Cambodia location is Phnom Penh (as well as Siem Reap), and their Vietnam location is Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). TEAN also runs an internship program in Thailand.
For something truly unique, check out our newest program, Research in Thailand! This program will pair you with a faculty member at Khon Kaen University in Thailand for 6 weeks. CIEE will provide the logistics and cultural excursions, but the research credit will be granted by your home academic department. Right now the program is mostly targeted to Engineering students, but if you are interested in another subject, come talk to us and we'll see what we can do!
Visas & Travel
Visa regulations vary depending on the country and what passport you hold - definitely check with your coordinator or host university upon acceptance. If you go to some countries for less than 30 days, you can get a tourist visa at the border. Any longer than that and you may need a student visa.
Travel in Southeast Asia is relatively inexpensive, and with so many transit hubs, you can get around fairly easily! You may also find yourself traveling by bus, taxi, tuk tuk, or bamboo railway if you happen to be in Cambodia! Take advantage of your time, but don't neglect your studies. And don't forget to explore your host city and country in depth; there is tons to see wherever you are and you don't want to spend all your free time stuck on a bus or in an airport! You may find that booking a flight into a major hub, like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, or Bangkok and then booking a separate flight to a regional airport can save you money if you are studying somewhere like Chiang Mai or Khon Kaen.
Health & Safety
Southeast Asia is generally a safe place and a very popular destination for young travelers. Students usually remark on how friendly people are. That being said, there are a few things to keep in mind. As in any location where tourists frequent, you'll want to watch out for pickpockets. Outside of major cities like Singapore, you may want to avoid drinking water straight from a tap, and you'll need to bring your mosquito spray! Southeast Asian countries are generally hot and humid, and during monsoon can experience flooding. Your coordinator can talk to you more in depth, and you'll visit the campus health travel nurse before departure for any necessary vaccinations.
Many students that study abroad in Southeast Asia are attracted to opportunities for service learning - and there are many options! If the service learning is attached to your program in an official capacity, this is the best way to ensure you are participating in an ethical, sustainable project. If you do not have this option on your program, but you'd like to find an opportunity, please talk to your study abroad coordinator. Many different NGOs and organizations offer 'volunteer' placements, but to make sure you are participating in a good program, you'll want to do some background research on their operations. At Study Abroad, we can help!
Critical Languages at UofA
Either before or possibly after you study abroad, you may be interested in learning a Southeast Asian language. The Critical Languages Program at the University of Arizona offers courses in less commonly taught languages, including Tagalog (Philippines), Thai, and Vietnamese!
Because Southeast Asia is an underrepresented region in study abroad, choosing a program here can increase your competitiveness for scholarships. We definitely recommend checking out our financial aid resource page - you can get additional funding for some scholarships if you study a language.