Enter Nick:After 15 months of living in France I could speak French fluently. I’m not a genius, even unintelligent people speak fluently. So how did I do this? Easily. I lived with a French family. I hung out with French people whenever I could. I forced myself to read and listen to French, even when I had virtually no idea what was going on. And eventually, I started to understand. I “learned” French not because I studied a lot of grammar rules or special formula, but through repetition and exposure to examples.
Learning French opened the country to me and it now feels like home as much as anywhere. So I thought of immersing myself the same way on my arrival in Thailand.
When I first contacted Payap University I asked about a homestay, but no luck. They had no information and didn't seem willing to help me gain a real cultural experience, despite proclaiming otherwise.
The undergrad degrees at Payap require 4 courses or 12 credits in a second language. And since a home stay wasn't an option I thought I'd enroll in the intensive Thai language program. My intention was to study Thai in the intensive program for one semester then transfer those language credits to my degree. Although the departments fall under the same basic administration, have the same materials and are taught by the same teachers, I was informed it could not be done.
So as a compromise, I asked about Thai language clubs or conversation groups. But again the university couldn't provide any information.
In a final attempt, I asked the Thai language department about private lessons. They couldn't provide any information about that either and I was asked "you don't have any Thai friends?"
So the question I have is—why the lack of options for people that come and seriously want to get involved with the culture? It's been 2 years since I got to Thailand, and my language level is far from my French level after only 6 months. It shouldn’t be that way. I accept some lack of initiative but Payap University has done nothing to support me in this.
Payap does have a very international student body and faculty, and some great teachers considering the remoteness of Chiang Mai, but the University does nothing substantial to support intercultural exchange and until that is changed, it will be marketing mistruth.