How did you purchase your textbooks? Compare the cost to the cost of textbooks you purchase at Carlow.
My classes did not have required textbooks. Ajarn Sura, my Thai Civilization teacher gives us handouts and Ajarn Chris has documents uploaded on a website for us for Buddhist Philosophy.
Tell us about your first few weeks of classes. What are the major differences between your classes abroad and classes at Carlow that you notice so far (class etiquette, teaching style, class size, etc?
Truthfully, there aren’t many differences between the teaching styles. They both use Powerpoint presentations and we are given writing assignments, though I would say that the assignments so far are more casual than courses at Carlow and we tend to take more field trips. Neither of them follows the usual Thai way of barring drinks and food from the classroom, but we were informed that that is the norm. We are allowed to be tardy a lot more here than back at Carlow. Classes, again, are structured very casually. We refer to our teachers by their first names, as well, which is a huge difference. Our Thai Civilization course only has 5 people in it, which is really small, even in relation to Carlow. Buddhist Philosophy holds about 15, which is closer to Carlow.
Like I said, we take field trips as well. For Thai Civilization, Ajarn Sura took us to three temples – one being Hindu, the other two Buddhist. We also have a chance to go meditate for Buddhist Philosophy. We had a monk visit to talk to the class so we could understand Theravada Buddhism better, as our teacher is a Zen Buddhist. So far the classes have been informative and rather relaxing. It’s interesting to learn about the philosophy of Buddhism (especially from a Zen Buddhist) at the same time we are learning about how Buddhism, Hinduism, and Animism melded together and are implemented within the culture itself, as well as how it has influenced historical events and the ways of life.
Getting to actually see what we learn about in our civilization course is also really enlightening. It’s nothing like simply learning in a history course – we can go to the sites and see everything. On our walk to school, we see spirit houses and when we visited Carrie’s aunt and uncle near Bangkok, there were still tons more, showing how ingrained animism still is within Thai culture. Another interesting note is that Thai Civilization professor is Buddhist and grew up in Thailand, so visiting the temples was a wondering experience. Because it’s something that he has dome often. We got to follow his lead in wai-ing to the statues (bowing). Our Buddhist Philosophy teacher is American, but has lived in Asia for a long time, so he gives a completely different perspective, naturally.