Wednesday, August 2, 2017


1) Great Educational Experience 
If you love the idea of learning about different cultures, meeting new people, earning credit, and travelling, the 2018 Winter term Southeast Asia immersion experience offers a lifetime opportunity as you will visit Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.
Celebrate New Year's Eve in Bangkok! Discover the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat (world's top tourist destination & one of the important archaeological sites in the world). See first hand how Vietnam has become one of the most attractive emerging markets, explore the Cu Chi Tunnels and travel by boat through the Mekong Delta. In Malaysia, learn from the locals about the food and how to cook it, while learning the stories behind the flavors. In Singapore you will see how a country with no natural resources, has transformed itself to become a world leader for business, public policy, education, community development, crime control, and urban planning. Singapore is one of the world's leading financial centers, international air and sea hubs and one of the most open economies for trade and investments.
This epic tour of Southeast Asia offers an extraordinary experience to see the distinct societies through business and cultural activities. With its combined population of more than 600 million people you will learn about the dynamic growth of the economies in Southeast Asia. The course will also examine the influences of economic development and emerging trends in global business. The Southeast Asia global immersion program highlights the diversity and commonalities of the region in terms of political systems, modernization trends, religious traditions, ethnic identities, emerging social issues and dominant cultural systems. Additionally, this course draws on first hand experiences in the region to explore the cultural, historical, political, and social challenges in the region.
Past global class trips have involved visiting the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), the lead government agency for planning and executing strategies to enhance Singapore’s position as a global business center; ExxonMobil, the largest foreign manufacturing investor in Singapore; Asia Pacific Breweries, producer of Singapore’s award-winning Tiger Beer and ranked one of the top companies in Asia with a reputation for being a top value creator for its customers, consumers, and shareholders; and Marina Bay Sands, the world’s most expensive stand-alone casino property worth $8 billion. Other organizational visits have included the Housing and Development Board, Media Development Authority, BBC, Singapore Airlines, Air Asia, Universal Studios, LEGOLAND Malaysia, Jurong Town Corporation, Port of Singapore Authority, Discovery Networks, eBay, Petronas, Royal Selangor, A*STAR, Yahoo, APL, and ESPN. For a glance into the political and system, the class toured Singapore’s Parliament and Supreme Court.

2) Culture 
Southeast Asia is a fascinating and important region of the world, characterized first and foremost by remarkable diversity in culture and history.  It includes some of the world’s major religions and ethnic groups, as well as many local cultures, and languages.  Given the strong focus on culture, this course will fulfill one of your University Diversity General Education requirements. The course also meets the BSE supporting course requirement. 

3) Enjoyment

Along with a great learning experience, you will have fun in a sunny and warm climate with plenty of wonderful attractions (Sentosa Beach, Universal Studios, S.E.A. Aquarium, Night Safari, Singapore Flyer), and great nightlife. 

Take a walk with Elephants in Thailand and take part in feeding, bathing and preparing medicine for them while they roam freely in a cage-less sanctuary. Discover the importance of Elephants in Thai society and how they are an important part of Buddhism in Thailand. Who does not love to haggle or bargain for better prices? Come try your luck at the street markets of Bangkok and you may discover gems, such as a silk scarf for only US$2 as discovered by one of the students on a past trip, on some of the team adventures that you will be a part of. You will also get to immerse yourself in nature away from the cities as you go canoeing in the islands off Phuket. You will head into caves on canoes where the clearance are sometimes less than three foot as you reappear into some of the most beautiful unspoiled part of nature.

In Cambodia you will discover in the city of temples, Angkor Wat. Voted as the #1 destination for visit by TripAdvisor in 2017, dive into this rich tapestry of culture and mythology as you bear witness to the devotion of the locals to their beliefs and how Buddhism came about to be the dominant religion in Cambodia. Also, if your are brave enough, how about a deep fried tarantula or maybe a grilled tree grub, some of nature's best sources of protein?

Heading into Vietnam, you will get to experience the Mekong River Delta as a local as you get on sampans to visit villages upstream as well as sharing a meal with a local Vietamese family as they welcome us into their home and prepare delicious home cooked food to fully immerse us into their lives. We would also get to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, to discover the simple tactics, creativity and tenacity of the locals to outsmart a better trained, better equipped and significantly larger foreign army coalition. And for those who wonder what it is like to fire weapons from that era, you will even have the opportunity to head to a gun range and try your hands at them

Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia, is a mixture of various races and religions. While here, we will travel into one of the villages and meet with locals who have lived their entire lives in the village but have made great contribution to the national cause. Have you ever cooked before or have always felt that your best is only to pick up the phone to call for pizza? Have no fear as we will learn from the grandmaster of Roti Canai, whose many disciples can be found in Australia, United Kingdom and even right here in America. Roti Canai, a simple pancake like dish, would have you begging for seconds once you have tasted it. If you want more, you will then get to cook it under the guidance of the grandmaster. If Roti Canai is not your style, you will also learn from the other chefs how to prepare other wonderful local dishes that will have you drooling each time you think about it when you are back home. Since we are in a tropical climate, you will also get to enjoy the many fruits and berries unique to this region. Meet the King of Fruit here and discover for yourself if you love it or would take a long hard stare at its prickly exterior that encases a creamy yummy goodness.

Singapore, often see as a crossroad between the Western and Eastern world, has some of the best food you could find in the world. You will get to go on an epic food trail that takes you to various parts of the country as you navigate the local public subways and buses to get to the best collection of food that Singapore has to offer. You will also go an Amazing Race-style adventure to discover the history of this country and the rich tapestries of cultures of the locals. Be amazed as you visit a pop-up seasonal night market to discover street food from all parts of the world as well as finding a bargain or two at the apparel sections. One of the most inventive ideas to appear in Singapore in recent years is the advent of a vending machine-like building consisting of luxury and super cars. Extreme sports like bungy jumping is no longer the purview of New Zealand. You will find the latest experience in the world of extreme sports as AJ Hackett1 has just opened his newest location in Singapore, which allows you to bungy jump from the top of a tower at the Southern-most point of Continental Asia, as well as experience the fastest and largest swing in the world. For those who are in for more thrills, the world's largest indoor vertical wind tunnel, iFly1, will also present you the experience of skydiving within the confines of a safe space without the need of jumping out of a plane. 

Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are in Southeast Asia. If you're a scuba diver, you'll be in heaven in SE Asia, but even if you're not a diver, the snorkelling is incredible too. Crystal-clear waters give great visibility. For those of you without any scuba diving experience, you will get the opportunity to Discover Scuba, as Dive Instructors will teach you the basics of scuba diving and then lead you into the wonderful underwater world. The ratio of Dive Instructor to students will be capped at 1 : 6. (Due to the nature of these activities, these activities will be considered optional and will not be costed into your program fee. Arrangements will be made once enrollment has been confirmed, with the Teacher who will be running the operations for the program, on the group rates for each of these activities). See the link for our 2014 class dive:
 4) People & Food of Southeast Asia
Local people have a huge impact on our overall opinion of a country. Southeast Asia has some of the kindest people anywhere. This is the perfect place to have random, amazing encounters with the friendly locals.
The food of this region is bursting with flavor! Each dish is prepared with complex flavors and a perfect balance of salty, sweet, spicy, and sour notes. Rice and curry are commonly served together, while noodles are typically fried together with sauces, meat, and vegetables. Many students on past trips still reminisce about the food they had experience while in South East Asia.
5) Value for the Money

This part of the world is definitely easy on your personal budget. Generally speaking your money goes a lot further in Asia. While multiple global courses are offered, the Southeast Asia tour offers great value.  The program fee is estimated at $3,300 plus airfare of $1,200-$1,600.  Southeast Asia is cheaper than Europe, the weather is better, there’s no pressure to learn the language, and SE Asia is more exotic than Europe. The program fee includes UM tuition, fees, hotel accommodations, fees for all academic site visits, field trips, and other program-sponsored excursions, transportation to all visits, one or two meals per day (lunches or dinner), and course reading materials. Smith students are eligible for a $600 scholarship.

The Office of Education Abroad is now accepting applications for the 2018 short term education abroad program to Southeast Asia. In order to apply go to It is to your advantage to complete your application as soon as possible but no later than Date:October 1 st.  
Depart: December 27. Experience ends the evening of January 15th.  The actual city listing in the end can change as a result of risk management considerations and State Department warnings.  The above program will not be offered in 2019.

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