Global Opportunities

By Sun Crabtree, and

reflects on her study abroad at Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University

Moving to Bangkok on my own has been the craziest thing I have ever done, by far. I left London on the 31st July. 11 hours later I landed in Bangkok, anticipating what the subsequent 10 months would be like…
…and it actually all went pretty well!

Growing up mixed-race, from a British/Thai heritage, in a small British seaside town, meant there were few opportunities for me to experience my roots. Thus, the opportunity to live, experience, and embrace Thailand has been unforgettable. I have been studying BA Language and Culture at Chulalongkorn University this academic year, and am about to return to Durham for my fourth year of BA Liberal Arts at South College.

Adjusting to the hectic schedule of university and life in this immense city was most definitely a change from the Durham scene. Yet, as my confidence grew, I relished the new experiences afforded to me. While living here, I was merited the opportunity to wear Thai traditional dress at Wat Arun – The Temple of Dawn – with my friends. In doing so, it was a highly rewarding experience, as it was genuinely comforting to feel such an intimate connection to my heritage.

The opportunity to live, experience and embrace Thailand has been unforgettable

Time spent outside of the city has also been really valuable to me. The ability to improve my Thai language skills has been incredibly useful in these situations. Moreover, I had the opportunity to travel to beautiful places across the country with my friends, to Hong Kong with my brother, and a once in a life time trip to Australia, to meet with a friend I met while on exchange.

Studying abroad is definitely one of the best things I have ever done – and living abroad is now something I get to check off my bucket list. However, I think I will most of all miss the endless rows of street food and my time spent in this bustling city – there is for sure no where else like it.

recalls her experience of Dutch culture from studying abroad in the Netherlands

Finding out I was accepted on to a study abroad year in The Netherlands sparked a range of emotions, from nerves to exhilaration.

Upon arriving in The Netherlands, I experienced how welcoming the Dutch are, as I was toured around the university campus by our exchange coordinator. I undertook a course titled ‘The Dutch Experience’ to help me learn more about Dutch culture and lifestyle, which I found very informative, and at times even quite eventful, having involved fieldtrips from time to time.

I quickly began cycling everywhere – otherwise known as a symbol of Dutch culture. After having a slightly wobbly start, I found the confidence to brave the bustling cycle paths. I would now be lost without my bike, using it every day to travel to university, meet friends, and explore the city’s hidden secrets and beauties. I also embraced some of the local food, with one of my favourites being the Stroopwaffel, which is a very ‘lekker’ sweet treat.

This has been everything I wanted and more and I recommend it to everyone

Many of my best memories here have been through badminton. Having played badminton for over ten years, even representing Team Durham, I really wanted to continue into this year. I joined the university badminton club and was quickly placed onto a team, playing matches weekly and travelling around the country with my new friends. My team finished winning the league, which was an honour to be part of. I have also played several tournaments and have won in both the women’s doubles and mixed doubles, representing the strength of friendships I have built here.

Ultimately doing a year abroad has been the best experience of my life, enhancing my independence and allowing an opportunity to meet a wide range of people and make new connections whilst immersing myself in a new culture. This experience has been everything I wanted and more and I would recommend it to everyone.

Features Editor explores the international opportunities and events on offer at Durham

Global Opportunities is an amazing way for students of all backgrounds and degree disciplines to expand their horizons and become more global citizens, with flexible opportunities that could range up to a full year studying or working internationally. Through GO Study Abroad, students are able to study at one of a variety of partner universities that span the globe, such as Boston College in the US, or the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Global Opportunities also provides even more types of initiatives than the breadth covered in their study abroad programmes, with students able to take on volunteering in Fiji, a summer internship in New York, or attending a summer school in India. Truly any student at Durham should feel empowered to take hold of these amazing opportunities, since the Turing Scheme provides funding for those who might need more support to facilitate their international ventures. 

Durham Global Week is a popular and integral feature of the University calendar

These sentiments of encouraging and celebrating diversity, internationality,  multiculturalism, and multilingualism at Durham are encapsulated in the annual Durham Global Week – a popular and integral feature of the University calendar with thousands of staff, students and members attending every year. This year’s Global Week entailed 50 events all imbuing the theme of ‘Inclusivity’, including a student-led ‘World Fest’, a stunning display of diverse cultures, and research-led seminars, which contemplated the building of inclusive organisations from a global lens.

To be sure, next year’s Global Week will continue the glowing precedent set by this year’s event, and will be held from the 1-9 March 2025. 

Global Opportunities Website – Durham University

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