Comparing Different Third Party Programs

My name is Ping Melchior; I am an international business major with a minor in Marketing and will graduate in the spring of 2024. After studying abroad in three places, I now call myself a world traveler. I went to Seoul, South Korea, in the summer of 2022; Athens, Greece, in the fall semester of 2022; and Bangkok, Thailand, in the spring semester of 2023. I used the same third-party provider, Education Network Abroad, but there were two different programs: ISA, their European program, and TEAN, their Asian program. Even though they were under the same umbrella company, they were very different. Below is my experience in these multiple places and what is essential to know about the locations I went to.

Seoul, South Korea
Korea University
Athens, Greece
American College of Greece
Bangkok, Thailand
Mahidol University
Pre- DepartureVisa: Semi easy
Easy portal
Not much-needed b/c shorter term
Great response time
Visa: A lot harder
In-person visit with the consulate
Okay response time
Visa: Super easy
Answers on the Website
Slow response time
All online
OrientationAll online
Didn’t mention absences**
No school orientation
No orientation, more a meet-and-greet with other people and on-site staff
School had a whole tour and studied abroad orientation
Stayed at a hotel in the city
Learned how to figure out the city
Had a school orientation group as well
HousingTwo different housing options
Weren’t told about the second
Couldn’t choose
No kitchen or anything in the building had to go to the CU down the road
8 people to a suite
No singles
Very small
Only two bathrooms
Full kitchen & microwave
Regular dorm rooms
With a fridge
No microwave or kitchen
Private bathroom
Has cleaning services
On-Site StaffVery welcoming
Shorter visit
Wasn’t very helpful
Very welcoming
Office close to dorms
Went to the hospital with me
Super welcoming
Very knowledgeable
Went to the hospital with me
Went out with a group
Local StudentsLittle to no students there
Summer Session
KU Buddies: but they only interacted when required
Little interaction
Had to make the social interactions yourself
Not super friendly
More interactions
A lot friendlier
They would interact with you on their own
Study Abroad StudentsAlmost all from the USA
Very open to meet
Group Chat before getting there
Super clique
Everybody had money
Lots of trips out of the country every weekend
All from the US
Very friendly
Program group all from the US
Other study-abroad students from other countries
ProfessorsSpoke English
Very Understanding
Spoke English
Some Greek to students before class
Always English during class
Most teachers spoke English
Some spoke Thai and didn’t bother translating
Clubs and Extra- CurricularNone since it was a summer programMet once a week but not as much school support Met three times during the semester
Usually, during classes
Can’t be a part of a club, but can go to their events
HomeworkNo Homework
Different idea of studying from the US****
Only homework was from language class
Very little homework, most from language class
Different idea of studying from the US
Some homework
Most from language class
GradesLike US standardsDifferent
Easier standards, but harder to get those good grades
Harder b/c only getting two grades
Little bit similar
Didn’t know my grade until they came out at end of the semester
Free TimeSince it was a shorter term
Less free time
More trips/excursions during the weekend
Some free time
Had class every day of the week
More free weekends
Lots of free time
Classes only two days a week
Lots of free time
BudgetingMore on trips and shopping***Lot more
Groceries, cleaning supplies, trips, excursions, shopping, nightlife, etc.
Lots more
Eating out every meal
Traveling to and from Bangkok
Trips outside of the country plus visas
ExcursionsOne every weekend
One weekend-long trip
School trips vs. program trips
Cost was a part of the program’s overall cost
One or two once a month
More in the first month
Only day trips
School trips vs. program trips
School trips were free, and program trips were a part of the program’s overall cost
Super fun
Very flexible with excursions
Multiple weekend-long trips
Only program trips
Cost was a part of the program’s overall cost
FoodGreat food
Very close to the school
Not super cheap
Lots of 7/11s
Very cheap food around the dorms
School had a cafeteria, open weird hours
Could buy meal tickets or just use a card
So much cheap food
A good meal for $1.50
No real cafeteria
More little cafes to buy from
Lots of 7/11s
TaxisApp: Kakao taxi
Good English
Pretty safe
Didn’t use b/c of metro
App: Uber
Very limited English
Safety features on the app
App: Grab/In-driver*
Easy to work
Limited English
Great safety features
Metro/Sky TrainClean
Easy to figure out
Goes everywhere
Semi dirty
Easy to use
Limited destinations
Super limited
Doesn’t go out to the school

*In-driver is excellent if you are going longer distances; it is an app that allows you to make your price. So, while Grab is a fixed amount In-driver, you can propose your price.

**Absences were something that got me in Seoul. We were not told about the unexcused absence rule. We were allowed four unexcused absences; if you exceeded that, you failed the class. In Bangkok and Athens, I needed to have a doctor’s note to get my absence excused if I was sick.

*** I had yet to consider budgeting because Seoul was my first trip. When I got back from Seoul and was checking my spending then, I started thinking more about budgeting. Since Seoul had a cafeteria, we weren’t eating out every meal.

****In many of these places studying is very different than how the US thinks of looking. In both Asian countries, the expectation was for every hour you had class; you were doing two hours of learning outside of course, which I felt wasn’t needed for me. Not only were the classes seeming kind of easy but there also didn’t seem like there was two hours’ worth of studying. Learning more throughout the semester was necessary in Greece rather than cramming the week before because you only have the midterm and final. Which I feel, in America, is very typical. The professors also gave no study guide, which was weird to me. Since in America, usually, the professors have some sort of study guide for us to look at.

Every study abroad will have ups and downs, but letting those downs not control the rest of the trip is how you can make the most out of every trip. Learn from those downs or mistakes and turn them into learning mistakes rather than mistakes that impacted the journey. I can tell many stories from each country of fun and crazy things I did. I have found friends for life, people who made my trip better. Those friends who, if they weren’t there, I’m not sure I’d have anything positive to say about that trip.

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