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Spend a year exploring a country whose ancient traditions, friendly attitude, and tropical landscapes are world-famous. While attending high school in Thailand, you’ll be able to make yourself at home by living with a Thai host family and getting involved in your community. You’ll have the opportunity to participate in cultural activities like touring Buddhist temples, visiting lively night markets, and tasting spicy gaeng (Thai curry). If you’re a person who values the quiet and calm but also seeks to find sanuk (fun) in all things, then Thailand is the place for you.

Things to know

Thai people greet each other with a wai (pressing their palms together as they bow or curtsy) in order to show respect. You raise your hands higher and bow lower when you encounter someone of high stature, like a Buddhist monk. In Thailand the king and royal family are highly respected and it’s actually against the law to insult them! Thais try to live with a jai yen (a cool heart), so you won’t usually see them expressing extreme emotions. They also value the Buddhist principles of acceptance and detachment, which means they tend to be non-confrontational and easy-going.  Because of the country’s Buddhist history, many Thai people understand and accept dietary restrictions like vegetarianism.

Eligibility Requirements

Current high school students are eligible. Specific age requirements may apply; contact AFS for more details.
Must be in good academic standing (recommended GPA of 2.5 or above).

Your journey to Thailand

Your journey to Thailand will begin in Los Angeles, where you’ll meet your fellow AFSers from the US. Together you’ll attend an overnight orientation and then travel to the city of Bangkok where you’ll be met by AFS staff and volunteers.

Soon you’ll be ready to head to your new community. Along the way you might pass by rainforests, coconut plantations, or sandy beaches with cerulean waters. No matter where you are, you’ll likely catch a whiff of the spicy and sweet flavors drifting from local food markets and street vendors. And keep your eyes peeled for some ancient, ornate architecture, as the golden stupas and steeply sloping roofs of Buddhist wats (temples) are often the focal points of Thai communities.

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Meeting Your Thai Host Family

AFSers have lived all throughout Thailand, from the northern teak forests to the southern tropical beaches. You might end up in a regional capital or a small town, and your host family could live in a traditional rural home or a small city apartment.

Like anywhere in the world, all families in Thailand are different. But most are close and caring, with several generations often living in the same house. Young adults usually stay at home until they marry, so you could have host siblings in their twenties or thirties.  Your host family is likely to have namjai, which means they endeavor to show generosity without expecting anything in return – though it never hurts to reciprocate.

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Settling into daily life in Thailand

Teenage Life in Thailand

Your Thai friends might invite you to sing karaoke or go shopping at night or weekend markets. Many people enjoy dancing, and American-style breakdancing is getting more and more popular among teenagers. A lot of students participate in sports like soccer, table tennis, badminton, volleyball, and basketball. They also might like playing Mahruk (a game similar to chess) or watching Muy Thai (Thai boxing) on TV. Other common activities include Tai Chi and aerobics, with people gathering in parks at dusk and dawn to practice in groups.Teenagers in Thailand also like to hang out in Internet cafés to meet people and play games. There are tons of different activities available, but as a student you’ll spend most of your time—and make most of your friends—at school.

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Foods You’ll Encounter in Thailand

Thai food is often a combination of sweet and spicy flavors, with kao (rice) served at every meal. Families eat in the communal style; each person has their own bowl of rice while other dishes are placed in the center of the table and shared by everyone. Some popular foods are pad Thai (pan-fried noodles), satay (pork or chicken on a stick with peanut sauce), yam (spiced salad), and tom yum kung (lemon-flavored soup with shrimp). For dessert you can try khao niew mamuang (coconut sticky rice with mango) or bua loy (rice balls in sweet coconut milk). You’ll also find that fresh, tropical fruit is available year round.

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Your High School in Thailand

The Thai school year starts in May and ends in March, with a mid-year break in October. You’ll probably be enrolled in a public secondary school, but you could also attend a same-sex or co-ed private school. You might even be enrolled in a specialized program like a technical, vocational, or art school. Your typical day will begin around 7:30 am and finish around 3:30 pm. In addition to subjects like math and science, most AFS students take cultural classes including language, history, religion and meditation. Other activities such as dancing, sword fighting, boxing, music, cooking, and arts & crafts might also be offered. As authority figures are highly respected in Thailand, you can expect to greet your teachers with a traditional wai. And on Wai Kru Day (Praise Teachers Day), it’s customary for students to honor teachers by offering them flowers and gifts.

What's Included

  • 70+ years of experience delivering high-quality programs through a worldwide network of 50,000 dedicated volunteers
  • Accommodations with a vetted host family
  • Round-trip international airfare for the designated program dates
  • School enrollment fees
  • Worldwide, 24-hour emergency assistance
  • Access to an in-country support team and network, as well as our Participant Support Department based here in the U.S.
  • Orientations and intercultural education before and during your program
  • Secondary medical coverage
  • Visa support and guidance
  • Inclusion in a worldwide returnee and alumni network of over 1,000,000 people
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Returning Home

“Life-changing” is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad. “Transformed” is another one.
When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and developed the confidence and resilience to accomplish anything you set out to do.
That transformation isn’t only visible to you, though – others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers. Second language fluency, intercultural competence, creativity, and critical reasoning will help you succeed, whatever path you take. “Life-changing” means it’s only the beginning.
It’s not just an adventure abroad; it’s a whole new reality. The perspectives and personal connections you gained will stay with you and likely draw you back to the second home you found while attending high school in Thailand.

In fact, our alumni reviews have made AFS one of the top-rated organizations in the study abroad industry.

A new you awaits.

Apply for High School Study Abroad in Thailand!

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