FEATURE ARTICLE

Emmanuel Nweke OkaforMonday, April 5, 2010
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Thailand

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LITTLE TIPS FOR NIGERIANS COMING TO STUDY IN THAILAND

Dear Fellow Nigerian Students,

fter due reflection, I have decided to provide you with some tips about Thailand and some of the university requirements. I could not do this completely without first and foremost letting you be aware of what it takes to study, work and live in Thailand. Please note that the information given in this write-up are my personal opinion and some research opinions about life in Thailand and what it takes a Nigerian to come, study and live in Thailand.


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About Thailand:

Thailand has common borders with Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, and Cambodia. The Northern part is often seen as the poorest part of Thailand. The Southern part of Thailand is the Muslim dominated areas with some form of political instability. Thai people are well known for their welcoming smiles. They are also hospitable people. Thailand is welcoming tourists. The country is one of the few countries that are not colonized. Thai is their national language. Good numbers of Thais do not speak English.

The Monarchy:

Thais love and revere their King and the Royal Family so much. As a Nigerian you are expected to show respect for the King, the Queen, and the Royal Family. Avoid any comment/action that might be deemed offensive to the Royal Family.

Religion: Religiously speaking, Thai people are very calm and respectful to all religions. The level of religious tolerance in Thailand is acceptable. Thai laws also tolerate other people’s religion. In religious places, you are expected to dress neatly and properly. You are also expected not to make too much noise. You should not wear shoes inside the temple that has Buddha image. There is a place you can take off your shoes. In all avoid any thing that will demonstrate a lack of respect in such a sacred place. It is directly the same compared to sacred places when visiting African Shrines.

Social Customs:

Thais greet in a prayer-like style which they called ‘wai’. Ordinarily, Thai people do not like to greet people by hand shake. Just as a young person greets the elderly one in our various Nigerian dialects, a younger Thai wais to an elderly Thai. When you arrive, you can easily learn this because it is very easy to learn. In Thailand, it is a bad manner to point your foot at a person. In Nigeria, it should be seen as nothing but in Thailand it could be seen as a bad omen. So it is preferable if you could use your finger, should you intend to point at any thing to a Thai. Thais do not like people to touch their head or even any part of their body. This is different if considered in Nigeria, it is seen as a sign of good relationship but in Thailand you try to avoid unnecessary hand touch. Similarly, if you watch Thais at any social gathering, you will notice that young Thais go to considerable lengths to keep their heads lower than those of the elder ones. They do this in order to avoid giving the impression of disrespect to the elderly ones.

In Thailand public show of love between boys and girls are normally seen as a rudeness or uncultured behavior. Of course, just as in every other country, you can still see young ones who do not keep to the rules. You are expected to follow the footsteps of those who obey the rules. If you intend to be rude, then you may likely find things very difficult in Thailand. It pays to be calm and keep a cool head and conceal your emotions as much as possible. Talking too much or even losing your temper while talking with a Thai may likely make the matter worst for you. For Thais, such a behavior is simply a show of poor manners. As a Nigerian, if you abide by the rules and regulations of the Kingdom of Thailand, then, you are on your way to making more friends during your study. It simply goes to say that the more friends you make (if any), the more you will want to return to stay longer and study in Thailand without any problem from any angle.

From history, Thailand has a well-established hierarchical structure of status which begins from the Royal family and gets to everyone and everything else. So as a student, paying respect to your teachers should be a paramount important to you among other things. Again, Thais expect you as a visitor to dress appropriately in classrooms, and, in a formal public places. Hence as an undergraduate, you are expected to wear your school uniform while in the school vicinity otherwise you will not be attended to. It is good note that Thais are quite conservative and patient. Thais do not talk too much and love to be calm and allow things to flow naturally.

How to get a student visa:

Firstly, you need to be in contact with the University and then apply for the program of your choice. Then the University is expected to ask you to provide your educational credentials. If you are applying for undergraduate courses then you are expected to provide the following:

  • Six passport photos
  • Application Form
  • Application Fees
  • Copy of your WAEC / NECO / GCE / SSCE or EQUIVALENT
  • Three letters of Recommendations
  • Copy of your E-passport (the information page) if needed
  • School fees

N/B: The lists are merely an educative estimate. Some universities request more while some request less.

If you are applying for graduate courses then you are expected to provide the following:

  • Six passport photos
  • Application Form
  • Application Fees
  • Copy of your degree earned and the transcripts
  • Three Letters of Recommendations
  • Copy of your E-passport (the information page) if needed
  • School fees

N/B: The lists are merely an educative estimate. Some universities request more while some request less. The application procedures differ from university to university. While you can apply for some programs simply by sending application form and copies of your transcripts per e-mail, others request the complete documentation with certified copies and proper photographs. Note that Nigerian documents are carefully scrutinized for the simple reason that some Nigerians may have faked things. As soon as your application is accepted, you will be issued an acceptance letter, which is normally called ‘The Letter of Admission’.

This Letter of Admission supposed and should in fact be printed on the official letterhead of the particular university that has accepted you. The letter must be signed by the authorized person or his assigned assistant. The content of the letter might differ from university to university but in all it must show that the university accepted for a particular program and invites you to begin your studies at a certain date within a particular semester. Some universities will state the number of courses you will study.

In Thailand, the student visa is a one year visa. It is given to only to those who are qualified and actually intend to study. It is preferable if one pays for a complete school fees/tuition fees. You should try to register for at least 3 courses per semester with the following documents:

  • Letter of Admission or a letter from the school to the Thai Embassy,
  • a photocopy of your E-passport (which must be valid for at least 6 more months),
  • recent passport-size photographs,
  • the NDLEA certificate,
  • the police criminal record,
  • the evidence of financial ability (bank statement),
  • all your educational credentials,
  • receipt of the school fees paid,
  • accommodation assurance,
  • Visa application form
  • Visa fees
  • ticket reservation

For those who are already in Thailand when they received the Letter of Admission, it is better and preferable to leave the country in order to apply for a non-immigrant ED visa from outside the country. While on tourist visa you can change it within the country without leaving to another country but the visa must be valid for at least 21 days in any case. As to the photographs, don’t carry or where anything that might change your face.

Thailand will give you a full one-year visa based on documents demonstrating that you are indeed ready to study at the Thai university. Be informed, that your application alone doesn’t make you a student. Therefore, the student visa is only valid for 90 days when you get it the first time. You expected to report to the Immigration at the expiration of each 90 days. You must learn to practice this till you leave the country.

Working with a student visa:

Please you are not allowed to work with student visa. You are permitted to study. Should you intend to work then apply for Non-B visa with the appropriate documents with the company that had employed you. The idea working and studying with student visa will only land you in jail and eventual deportation according to Thai laws. Reportedly, there are cases of students who, for instance, teach in order to finance their studies. Please be aware that this is illegal even if doing so is possible.

Feeding:

There are so many African foods or Nigerian food in Thailand. Normally as a new student, you may not find it easy with Thai food, therefore, you are advised to keep on with Nigerian food or other African food until your stomach gets adjusted to the Thai food. However, be informed that the African food could be very expensive but not too expensive.

Academics:

Education in Thailand is stable. There is no strike action. You can choose to complete your studies as fast as you want provided you are able to pay for the studies. It is possible to complete your bachelor degree within three years. It is also possible to complete your master degree within a year. Ordinarily, Nigerian students do better than other students from other countries. Remember that you must try to make at least CGPA of 3.0 although at most instances some universities may overlook that. Studies here is done both on the weekend and on weekdays depending on the university and the on the program you enrolled in. Some universities include the text books as part of the school fees and therefore as you pay your school fees you are also paying for your text books. Most often classes are not too crowned and there good facilities.

Danger Points:

  • Avoid doing your educational admission process with any agency except direct contact with the school or the university.
  • Avoid any form of forging of documents of any kinds.
  • Avoid telling lies in order to secure the visa.
  • Avoid any form of short cut in order to get the visa.
  • Avoid coming to Thailand to study when you have no sponsor.
  • Avoid moving with a person of questionable character.
  • Avoid avoiding the Nigerian Embassy in Thailand.
  • Avoid any form of drug trafficking.
  • Avoid any form of making money in an illegal way.
  • Avoid thinking that you are still in Nigeria when in fact you are in Thailand.
  • Avoid disrespecting your teacher.
  • Avoid unnecessary argument with your teachers in the classroom.

Good Points:

  • Just maintain your normal African value, norms and culture and you will join us to smile in the land of smile.
  • It is not true that all Nigerians in Thailand are all in oddities. There are many Nigerians who are in Thailand with credible records. There are also many Nigerians who are in Thailand teaching, lecturing, and some are also doing genuine business.
  • Nigerian Embassy in Bangkok should be your home because they are always available if you prove to be a good student. The Embassy is very helpful.
  • Nigerian Student Forum is also very active and indeed very supportive.
  • Nigerian Community Association is also available and ready to help.

Emmanuel Nweke Okafor is a PhD Research Student in Philosophy/Religion at Assumption University, Thailand

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