I know that KEI and Emory use this blog so I figured I would take some time to go over all the things that are good to know/wish I had known before coming to study abroad in Thailand.
1. Don't pack more than four pairs of shoes. I brought at least three pairs of shoes that I have not worn once while here. Take a minute think about where you are going and kiss those cute sequin flats goodbye. If you don't want to walk four miles in them then they should not make the cut. Extra shoes take up a ton of space and precious suitcase weight.
2. You will have a school uniform. I was really unclear about this before I came and was told that they weren't that strict about it for international kids, that it was more of a preference. So I just brought a ton of skirts and blouses that were a similar fashion to the uniform. If you are studying abroad in Thailand there is a 99% chance you will be wearing a uniform 80% of the time. Its alright though because it gets you discounts places and you never have to think about what you are going to wear. Also you can pack way less clothes!
3. It is okay to wear shorts in public. Yes some Thai people are modest, but a lot of them do wear shorts and it is not a problem. I almost didn't bring any because I was told only tourists wear them, some see it as disrespectful, and they will charge you more money because they think you are a rich American. If you are foreign I promise you will stick out...all the time. You can try to blend in, the Thai people will give you an A for effort and possibly a 20 baht discount but you aren't fooling anybody. It's okay though, I got used to it really fast and most Thai people go out of their way to help you. If you are a girl you should probably bring a knee length/modest skirt, most temples don't let women in wearing shorts/pants/short skirts.
4. Don't load up your class schedule. The semester you choose to study abroad anywhere isn't a great time to get all of your hard classes out of the way. In Thailand I would say this is particularly true. Most people I talk to wish they had taken less difficult courses and/or less credits. Living in a foreign country is a big adjustment. If you are like anybody I talked to you are going to find it really hard to focus. Professors are likely to teach, test, and grade in a way that is very different from your home University. Nobody wants to spend all their weekends studying abroad actually studying. You gotta have time to go out there and explore without coming back to a stress fest.
5. Bring any food you can't live without. There is just something comforting abut coming back to your apartment after an overwhelming day and being greeted by your favorite granola bar. Especially in the beginning before you have fully embraced the Thai food all the time mentality this will be a life saver. You can find some stuff here but chances are it is not the same and since only Foreigners eat it, it will be really expensive. If any of these items are a staple in your diet then bring them with you. You will not find them easily here. Salad dressing (they use sweet mayo everywhere here and it is gross), anything cheesy, granola bars, trail mix, chocolate (especially dark), peanut butter (you can find it but it is not the same, in teeny jars, and expensive), anything you prefer whole grain or whole wheat, protein bars, cereal, and granola. These are pretty much just the things that I missed a lot but as a general rule anything that falls in the snack or breakfast category. Plus you will have room in your suitcase for souvenirs when you come home because you ate all the food you brought with you!
6. Bring any DVD's you can't live without. The internet is pretty slow where ever you go, most/all t.v. here is in Thai, and if you buy movies here they might not be compatible with your computer. Most dvd drives in computers these days only let you change your region five times before it locks it for life. I know it sounds confusing but pretty much don't bother buying them here. If you are a movie buff come prepared.
7. Bring any medicine you might want...ever. The chances of you getting food poisoning while here are pretty close to 100% so just go ahead and make that process a lot more pleasant by brining your favorite meds with you. If by chance you go unscathed I am sure that a friend will appreciate it at some point.
8. Bring enough soap to last the whole trip. It is really hard to find soap that does not have bleaching agents in it because pretty much all Thai people use bleach in most skin products. Most labels are also completely in Thai so it is pretty hard to know whether or not you have found soap that won't turn you into Michael Jackson.
9. If you think you might want to leave Thailand get a multiple entry visa!
10. If you are a girl bring all of the feminine products you will need for your trip.
11. Bring a coat and other warm accessories. I know it is a tropical country but this especially applies if you are connecting through the Beijing airport. They do not have any heat in the international wing of their airport and it is all glass. On the plus side they do have a yoga/meditation room if that is your thing. Chiang Mai and other northern provinces can also get pretty chilly sometimes.