Study Abroad Thailand 2023 – Itinerary and activities

This blog is about the detailed schedule of our Study Abroad Thailand 2023 program.


March 2023 – First pre-departure meeting. At this meeting, I talked about the expectations and overall theme/itinerary of the trip. I also let the students introduce themselves and meet each other.

April 2023 – 2nd pre-departure meeting. The students did some research and gave a presentation on what they found fascinating about Thailand. I also talked about Thai customs and culture. The students also learned some basic Thai words like Sawasdee (hi), thank you (Khob Khun), A-roi (delicious), etc.

May 2023 – 3rd pre-departure meeting. At this meeting, we covered the important information that students need to know during the trip. I also talked about what they should pack and gave them a cheat sheet for emergency contact. I also introduced the Thai client for the course.

Itinerary during the trip

May 16: The big group departed from Cleveland. Some students traveled separately and met with the big group in Bangkok.

May 18: We arrived in Bangkok and stayed overnight at the hotel near BKK airport.

The students received crossbody travel bags as welcome-to-Thailand gifts sponsored by Chinchana Group 🙂

May 19 – First day on WU campus: We left Bangkok for Nakhon Si Thammarat (NST) in the morning from Donmueng Airport. We arrived in NST around noon and received a warm welcome from Walailak University faculty, staff, and students.

May 20 – Morning lecture and Buddhist ceremony: Today we started the class with an ice-breaking activity to get the American and Thai students to know each other. Then, I gave a lecture on international marketing and cross-cultural consumer behavior.

In the afternoon, the students participated in a local Buddhist ceremony at Wat Phra Maha That. The weather was really hot but it was a great experience for everyone. This activity is very local and cannot be found on Tripadvisor

May 21 – Morning lecture, a sustainable tie-dye workshop, and city tour at night: On this day, I gave a morning lecture on how to write a business plan, and conduct SWOT analysis and competitor analysis.

In the afternoon, the students participated in a tie-dye workshop where the dye was made from a natural ingredient. This workshop is one of the social enterprises in NST.

After the workshop, we met with our client from NST Chamber of Commerce to listen to the scope of the project. The goal of the project is to promote old town tourism in NST. Then, we took a tour of NST at night sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (NST branch) to learn more about NST.

May 22 – Departuring for Krabi, eco print workshop, and sustainable tourism at Nateen Community: In order to propose a plan to help NST promote its tourism, we visited its competitor, which is one of the world-famous destinations – Krabi. The students participated in the eco print workshop and learned about sustainable and net zero carbon tourism. In the evening, they attended a Thai dessert-making class and palm oil painting at Nateen Community. These tourist activities are designed to reduce carbon footprint.

May 23 – Wellness hotel management seminar and eco-tourism kayaking: In the morning, the students attended a seminar and learned about wellness hotel management at Aonang Princeville Villa Report. Wellness and medical tourism have become a popular trend globally and Thailand is one of the famous destinations. In the afternoon, we went kayaking at Klong Rhood as part of the low-carbon tourism at Nai Nang Community.

May 24 – Islands hopping tour: Today we did an islands hopping tour. We visited several world-famous beaches in Thailand where famous movies were filmed. After the tour, we stayed overnight on Koh Lanta.

May 25 – Sunbathing at sunrise on Koh Lanta. Back to NST: Sunbathing at sunrise (Arb Aroon) is an eco-tourism activity on Koh Lanta (Lanta Island), which I considered to be the highlight of this trip. Aab Aroon (sunbathing at sunrise) is a low-carbon, eco-tourism activity. We rode a gondola out to the mangrove area, and watched the sunrise and animals while enjoying morning drinks and traditional Thai desserts.

May 26 – Return to WU campus and project time: After the students got ideas from Krabi tourism, they came back to WU campus to put together a presentation to promote old town NST tourism.

May 27 – More project time and river cruise in Pak Panang: After project meetings on campus in the morning, the students went on a river cruise in the Pak Panang river. During the cruise, they learned about the history of NST and sampled green curry rice noodles (Kanom Jeen Kang Kiew Whan) and Pad Thai sponsored by WU student’s family.

May 28 – Project presentations and farewell party: After 2 days of hard work, the students gave a presentation to Nakhon Si Thammarat (NST) Chamber of Commerce on how to promote NST tourism to attract international tourists. This experience gave them an opportunity to apply what they learned in class in a real client project (great for the resume!). It also taught them to work in a real cross-cultural team where they had to find a way to get over cultural differences and the language barrier. All students (Thais and Americans) said that it was a challenge but they learned so much from this trip/class.

In the evening, WU threw us a farewell party and gave all students a certificate of completion. A representative from each university talked about their experience and impression of this program. WU also had traditional Thai dance shows for us and WU students surprised us with a dance performance and Elena’s and Josh’s birthday cake!

May 29 – Go back to Bangkok and the US: We left NST and flew back to Bangkok in the morning. Some WU students also came to say goodbye at the airport. While most students are flying home that night, some students extended their stay in Thailand and went to Chiang Mai for more Thailand experience. The big group had some time to kill in Bangkok. So, we went to the shopping malls in the city before coming back to the BKK airport in the evening.

The Inaugural Study Abroad Thailand was a success!

I had an idea of doing a study abroad trip to Thailand since before the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, the pandemic hit the world and delayed my study abroad Thailand plan until 2022. I have been working with Walailak University (WU) faculty on research for several years and in 2022 I was invited to visit WU when I was in Thailand in June. That’s when we resurrected our study abroad Thailand plan.

The theme for the study abroad Thailand program was about sustainability tourism and cultural experience in Thailand. In 2022, WU faculty and I published a research paper on how tourism businesses, non-profit organizations, and government offices in Thailand worked together during COVID and set the direction for sustainable tourism in Thailand after the COVID-19 pandemic (see the reference at the bottom of this article). To bring our research into the classroom, this study abroad program was designed to reflect what we found from our research and the future directions of tourism in Thailand.

Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations worldwide. The trend in Thailand right now is to move toward sustainable tourism, where tourists make minimal impact on the environment when they visit Thailand. Thus, during this Study Abroad Thailand program, the students explored the beauty of the Southern part of Thailand – Krabi and Nakhon Si Thammarat (NST) province – as well as learned about sustainable tourism. They also participated in many net zero carbon tourist activities such as a tie-dye workshop where the dye was made from a natural ingredient, eco kayaking, a Thai dessert class, and an eco-print workshop. They also learned about how hotels in Krabi created a travel package that focuses on sustainability and wellness to attract international tourists.

Most importantly, the UA students get to make an impact at the international level. They worked with WU students on a project to propose a marketing plan to help NST attract international tourists and compete with its competitors who are more well-known among international tourists such as Phuket, Krabi, and Bangkok. On the last day, the students gave a presentation to NST Chamber of Commerce and WU dean and faculty. The client was impressed with their recommendations and plans to propose some of the ideas to the Mayor of NST to increase international tourists. Hopefully, we will see some of the ideas being executed very soon.

The students in this program had an opportunity to immerse themselves in a real cross-cultural experience. The UA students had to interact and work with Thai students in a cross-cultural team where they learned that cultural differences do exist. The students had to get over the language barriers and deal with the differences in working styles between Americans and Thais. Over the past 2 weeks, many memories and lifelong friendships were created.

From Matilyn Tewell’s, a 4th-year marketing student, LinkedIn post:

“Over the past couple of weeks, I was able to join Sydney Chinchanachokchai on her study abroad course in Thailand. During this time we had the opportunity to travel to places like Bangkok and Krabi, but we spent most of our time in Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Nakhon Si Thammarat is a province in Thailand that has plenty to offer and would like to increase their tourism as right now there is little to none. Our task on this trip was to create and discover ideas that this province could implement in the short term and the long term.

During this project, we got to work with students from a local university. This helped us to learn how to work cross-culturally, push passed language barriers and so much more.

We then presented our ideas to the Dean of Walailak School of Management, a few professors, and the Chamber of Commerce. In this presentation, my team placed First overall which I was extremely thrilled about. This was such an amazing experience from beginning to end. I gained so much knowledge in the short two weeks I spent in Thailand. Being fully immersed in the culture and working with others at an international level helped me understand and appreciate my studies in Marketing on a whole new level.”

As a faculty leader and program director of this study abroad program, I am very satisfied with the outcomes of the program. As a cross-cultural researcher who has lived in many countries around the world throughout my life, I realize the importance of international business and that the best way to learn about any culture or language is to interact with the locals. As a teacher, I know from many years of teaching that the best way for students to learn is to be able to apply their knowledge in a real-life project. Through this high-impact practice project, the UA students did not only get to apply what they learned in class in a real-life project but they also helped NST Chamber of Commerce come up with ideas to attract international tourists, which may lead to an increase in the city’s revenue and improved economy in the long run.

Many students have told me that this was one of the best experiences they have had at the University of Akron and I believe it is true!


Pongsakornrungsilp, P., Pongsakornrungsilp, S., Jansom, A., & Chinchanachokchai, S. (2022). Rethinking Sustainable Tourism Management: Learning from the COVID-19 Pandemic to Co-Create Future of Krabi Tourism, Thailand. Sustainability, 14(18), 11375.

Excellence in Community-Engaged Teaching Award & Akron Community Engaged Scholar

I ended my 2022-2023 academic year with the Excellence in Community-Engaged Teaching Award awarded by the University of Akron EX[L] Center for Community Engaged Learning. I would like to thank Andrew Rome from Haymaker Farmers’ Market (HFM) for being an excellent community partner in my class and research projects.

In 2020, my Integrated Marketing Communications class worked with HFM on marketing plans to promote the food incentive program at the farmers’ market to low-income populations. A year later I supervised an Honors students’ research project that examined how the COVID-19 pandemic affected fruits and vegetables consumption among low-income populations. I have also engaged in another research project about a farmers’ market program (Power of Produce) that incentivizes kids to try fruits and vegetables at the market. The collaboration has been very pleasant and I am very fortunate to be able to form such partnership with HFM.

In addition to the teaching award, this year I am also in an inaugural cohort of Akron Community Engaged Scholar (ACES). ACES program is a way for the EX[L] center for community-engaged learning to formally affiliate with full- and part-time faculty/staff who demonstrate a commitment to public impact y connecting campus and community through their teaching, scholarship, and/or significant service. The ACE scholars have a 3-year term.So my appointment will be from 2023 to 2026.

I received the 2023-2024 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award

I am honored to receive a 2023-2024 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. As a participant in the Fulbright Program, I will conduct cross-cultural research focused on social media influencer (SMI) marketing and teach thematic seminars on advertising and marketing at Escola Superior de Comunicação Social of Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa.

The Fulbright US Scholar Program is a prestigious award that gives opportunities to US scholars to conduct research, teach, and expand their professional network in foreign countries. I will spend 4 months in Lisbon, Portugal studying Portuguese consumer reactions to SMIs as product endorsers and comparing them to their consumer counterparts in the United States.

This research will add to my research stream on cross-cultural consumer behaviors and will extend the body of research in SMI marketing to study Portuguese consumers.

Read the Fulbright award announcement from the University of Akron at this link

Study Abroad Thailand 2023

This project had been on my mind for a couple of years. Originally, I wanted to start this trip before the pandemic but then the pandemic hit the world and this trip was put on hold. Now that we are free (and somewhat safe) to travel again, I am leading the study abroad trip to Thailand in May 2023. In collaboration with Walailak University, the students will learn about sustainable tourism business and cultural experience in Thailand. They will also work with local enterprises to help them with their business plan. I hope this will be a great experience for UA students.