Immersing Into the Thai Culture at Thammasat University

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Thammasat University is the 2nd oldest and one of the most prestigious universities in Thailand. Thammasat was founded by Pridi Banomyong, the father of Thailand’s democracy. One of the main goals of Thammasat University is “to teach students to love and cherish democracy.” Thammasat focuses on human rights and provides students and staff a space to speak freely about politics and other topics. Since the university is located in the center of Bangkok, right next to the Grand Palace and Tha Prachan river, it is rich in Thai culture and history.  I fortunately got the opportunity to study at Thammasat this summer, where I hope to learn more about the history, society and culture of Thailand. 

As an international student studying at Thammasat, I was given the option of wearing the school uniform. The uniform for males are a plain white button-up shirt, black slacks, belt with Thammasat University buckle, and black shoes with socks. As for female students, their uniforms compose of a plain white button-up shirt with short sleeves, buttons placed on the shirt seam binding and shirt collar, black or dark blue skirt, belt with Thammasat University buckle, and black shoes. Although I was not required to wear the school uniform, I chose to wear the uniform in order to further immerse myself into the Thai culture. All students in Thailand, whether it be primary, secondary or collegiate level education, have to wear uniforms. Here, students attend school 6 days a week wearing their uniforms. You can spot a person wearing uniform almost anywhere you go. 

I was a bit nervous wearing the uniform on the first day because I have not worn uniforms since the 5th grade. However, when I got to campus, I felt proud of myself for wearing the uniform. It was great walking on campus knowing that I am part of the university and the community. As I sat in a Thai classroom, wearing the uniform that all students wear, I felt more immersed and connected to the Thai culture. I was finally able to experience an aspect of the educational culture in Thailand. 

During the first week of class, we learned the basics of the Thai language.  The topics ranged from basic dialogue to shopping and bargaining to ordering food. The Thai language alone have taught me so much about the Thai culture and society. Thai people are very family oriented, so they often use kinship terms to address each other, even if they are complete strangers. Since the language course was only a week long, there is still so much more about the language that I hope to learn through my everyday interactions with the Thai people here. From the two weeks that I have been in Thailand, I have learned how to say something new in Thai everyday by simply asking vendors what certain food items are called. For the rest of the program, I am planning to continue doing so to learn how to speak more in Thai.