Studying abroad in Thailand for a full year will give you a full dose of intercultural experience in one of Asia’s most tantalizing countries. You’ll become truly immersed in Thai culture through joining your host family and friends in cooking, meditation, traditional Thai boxing or any number of fun activities. In addition to attending school in your host community, you’ll have the opportunity to go on trips with AFS staff and volunteers to experience things like river rafting, shopping in bazaars and even elephant riding. Just one year won’t be long enough to experience this extraordinary destination.
You may be placed in any region of Thailand, from the northern teak forests, to the central farming plains, or the southern tropical beaches. Your host family could live anywhere in the country, but they are likely to reside in a regional capital or small town.
Check out the Host Community Map to view where previous AFS-Thailand students have been placed.
Extended Thai families are very close, which will give you a chance to visit your host relatives nearby. Families enjoy spending weekends together at home, where you will experience how Thai families are bound by tradition with a long history. Families are customarily patriarchal, but both parents usually work.Host families in Thailand, like all AFS host families worldwide, are not paid. They open their homes to students in order to share their community and culture as well as to enrich their own family lives.
Thais are generally respectful and reserved. They are also caring, warm-hearted and sensitive, and they find it difficult to say “no.” The most common religion is Buddhism, with small Muslim and Christian minorities. There is no official religion, though the king is required to be Buddhist.
Thai schools are the center of life for Thai youth, and their social lives revolve around school.
Movies and television are the most popular forms of leisure entertainment for young people. Soccer, table tennis, badminton, and volleyball are the favorite sports.
Thai food is some of the world’s tastiest cuisine. You will likely eat a lot of rice, paired with curries, fish and vegetables. Spicy pepper and peanut sauces are quite common, and fresh fruit is available year-round. Most Thai families share the evening meal together. Many host families in Thailand can accommodate vegetarians so this is a good destination if you have dietary restrictions.
Thai is the official language of Thailand and the language that will be spoken in your host community and school. All instruction, with the exception of foreign languages, is done in Thai. You will be offered Thai language instruction from your host school or local volunteers to help you get started.
Thailand has many different types of schools, which are usually the center of the community. You could be placed in any one of the following schools: government, private, single-sex, co-ed, demonstration (university-linked, using new methodologies), technical, vocational, or teacher and art colleges. Most AFS participants are placed in the second-to-last year of a public school.
The school you attend and the courses you take will depend on your age and interests as well your host city. Thai schools offer a wide variety of opportunities in addition to academic courses, including cultural subjects such as Thai language, dancing, sword fighting, music, cooking, arts, history, Buddhism and meditation. There are also academic, sports and recreational clubs that meet both after school and for one period a week during school sessions. If there is not a club that interests you, you may be able to start your own!
AFS students are usually invited to join school trips, take part in English camps, community and regional events (e.g. festivals) and give presentations about their countries.All schools require a uniform, and school rules require male students to keep their hair short.
Check out the Host School FAQ (.pdf).
Orientations & Activities
In addition to the online and in-person orientations that you will participate in before you depart, you and your fellow AFSers will have several orientations while abroad. These are intended to help you maximize your AFS experience, prevent culture shock and gain knowledge, skills and a global understanding. Topics covered will include Thai society, culture, family, school, religion, festivals, safety and health issues. Each orientation will be tailored to your group and your group’s needs. All orientations are several days in length, and will occur upon arrival, about 6-8 weeks into your stay, and just prior to your return.
In addition to orientations, many local volunteer chapters organize activities for students and host families throughout the year. These will vary from chapter to chapter but may include get-togethers or trips to other cities or regions in Thailand. Unlike the orientations, these activities are optional and are not included in tuition. Past trips have included river rafting and elephant riding.
Your program will begin in Los Angeles, where you will meet your fellow AFSers from the US, attend an overnight orientation, then travel together to Bangkok where you will be met by AFS Staff and Volunteers. International airfare is included as part of the tuition, bbut it will be your responsibility to arrange your travel from your hometown to Los Angeles. Details will be provided after you start your application.
To get more information about the visa requirements, view the Thailand Year and Semester Programs Visa Overview.
To participate in this program, you must:
- Be within the age range upon departure
- Have a minimum 2.8 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale
- Be mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy in accordance with AFS Medical Evaluation Policies
- Have a valid U.S. passport, or a U.S. Permanent Resident Card at least 4 months prior to the departure range
- Have an open mind, willingness to be flexible, and the ability to adapt to new a culture, school, and environment
Many host families in Thailand can accommodate vegetarians so this is a good destination if you have dietary restrictions. Strict vegans, however, are more difficult to place so please be as flexible as possible with your diet.
Younger High School graduates may be considered for this program if they meet eligibility requirements.
While there is no Thai language requirement, we encourage you to learn as much as possible before your departure.