- Course: Thai and South East Asian Studies
My name is Neil, and I was a Thai and South East Asian Studies student at the University of Leeds between 2004 and 2008. I graduated with a 2:1 honours degree gaining a greater understanding of language, culture, religion, philosophy and people of a region I have come to love and respect a great deal.
Was it worthwhile to study Thai at the University of Leeds? I would have to say it most certainly was - from the lecturers’ approachability, interesting language sessions, a year abroad in amazing Chiang Mai to a huge choice of interesting optional modules, constant support and meeting great friends - it was an amazing and unforgettable time, and difficult to summarise in such a short biography.
Since graduating, I have worked as a language teacher for the British Council; initially in Chiang Mai, Thailand, most recently in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, and in the near future possibly Yangon, Myanmar. Although the Thai Studies degree did not necessarily train me to teach, it did open my mind to understanding, working and living in Asia. It is a region full of innovation, rapid development, changing attitudes, growing economies, and a motivated young generation- if I had not spent four years studying Southeast Asian and Thai Studies at Leeds, I believe I would have been in the UK doing some monotonous 9-5 office job in some nondescript building dreaming of a better life; instead I am actually living it!
With the famous cultural institution that is the British Council, and powered by my degree, I have the choice of working in over 50 different countries around the world, in one of British Council’s 70 centres. It has been a great career so far, full of opportunities and development, and I can only see it getting better. Although living away from family and friends is challenging, I do have the chance to live an exciting expatriate life; traveling, learning, working and building friendships.
In my opinion, the great thing about the program at the University of Leeds is its flexibility on where you eventually want to take it; there is no fixed route that you must follow upon graduation which, for me, is a great advantage. Whatever you choose to do, remember, hard work and full effort will always return dividends in the long run.