In the three years since I have graduated from Webster University I have had several people – prospective students and parents of prospective students alike, ask me about the college. More often than not they would be clutching a Webster university information package that they had obtained from an information session given by Webster’s recruitment office in Nepal or they would have already scoured through the college’s website. They did not want to know what degrees are offered or what the buildings looked like or how much was the tuition fee or even if the degree was internationally recognized. They already had all this information from the brochures, the website and the recruitment officer.

What they wanted was some ‘inside information’. The students wanted to know if the college was ‘fun enough’ and the parents wanted to know if a campus in Thailand, a touted holiday spot, was perhaps ‘too much fun’ for a student. Here are the reasons why I loved my time at Webster and why my mother voted for it over sending me to a college in the U.S.
I attended Webster’s Thailand campus from 2006 to 2008. It was the perfect soft landing into the big unknown world for a girl who had spent almost all her educational life in a convent boarding school. Class sizes were small and thereby less intimidating when you’re trying to voice an opinion or give a presentation in class. However, the small class size did not come at the cost of the diversity of the class. On the contrary, my classmates included Japanese, British, Koreans, Canadians, Ecuadorians, Burmese, Vietnamese, and former US marines amongst other nationalities. I learnt as much from my fellow students as I did from my professors.

Another absolute winner for the students is the location of the campus. Situated in a sea-side town Hua-Hin and three hours drive away from Bangkok (for the undergraduates), it is far away from the noise and hullaballoo of the city and yet close enough for weekend visits to the capital. The students live in various properties spread across the town but most of the student population lives in a multi-storey apartment building right by the beach. Yours truly and her flat-mates lived on the top floor of the said building with a sea-side view; we called it our very own ‘penthouse’.

Another highlight was the opportunity to experience two cultures at once – the American culture that was reflected through the campus activities, teaching style and course syllabus and the rich Thai culture that permeated through everything. The various Thai festivals, with Songkrant – the water festival being my favorite, the sea food, the exotic fruits, the shopping bargains and the eternal summer all made me love my time at Webster.

The diversity of the courses and degrees offered meant that not only could I graduate with a double major in International Relations and Management but I could also take classes in Thai language, test my detective chops with a class in Criminal Profiling, indulge the movie buff in me in a Literature into Films class and tone up in a credited Yoga or Strength and Conditioning class.

As for the concerned parents, my mother is the mother of all ‘excessively-concerned-mother-hens’ and she absolutely loved the fact that I was simply a three hour flight journey away from her should the impulse to check on me strike up within her (which did more often than I would have liked). She used up every excuse to come and visit me in the three years that I was at Webster.

Another thing that you learn in Webster, and this I think is applicable for all American universities and colleges, is that once you are 18 you are an adult. You are responsible for your own actions and teachers and elders are not going to constantly act as the moral police. Parents have often asked me, “Chora bigrincha ki’? Will my son [or daughter] get spoilt or move on the wrong track once in college. In all honesty I or the college can’t vouch for that. At university level everybody is an adult and the choice is the individuals whether to study or get drunk.

At Webster I’ve had the laying-back-in-a-hammock-and-studying-microeconomics lifestyle. I’ve had serious intellectual discussions on humanitarian interventions and human rights during the semesters and been able to relax and experience Thailand in several of its beautiful islands during the term breaks. As for those of you who are concerned whether you can truly balance fun and studies, if you want to you can. I had a lot of fun during my years at Webster but I learnt a lot too – enough to get into Yale for my Masters degree at least.