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  • Locations: Chiang Mai, Thailand; Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • Program Terms: Fall Semester, Spring Semester
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Program Sponsor: IPSL: Study Abroad + Service-Learning 
  • Restrictions: Augsburg applicants only
  • Dates / Deadlines
Program Description:

      phnom penh cambodia


Deeper, More Meaningful Study Abroad in TWO Countries

The countries of S.E. Asia are as different as they are similar and IPSL students have a unique opportunity to live, study and serve in TWO important SE Asian countries, Thailand and Cambodia, in ONE study abroad and service-learning program! Interesting courses and hands-on service-learning experiences in IPSL's S.E. Asian Comparative Studies (SEACS) program will enrich your understanding of these two complex and historically rich SE Asian countries.

Thailand is a land of contrasts:  gorgeous countryside of rice fields, mountains, hills, and ancient temples; bustling city life in the capital, Bangkok; and beaches world-famous for diving and snorkeling. A largely Theravada Buddhist society, Thailand’s population is varied with many tribal and ethnic groups, as well as immigrants. Through service-learning, you will learn about Thai culture, the role of Buddhism, and contemporary social issues while addressing social and economic problems caused by globalization and rapid development. Set amidst the cool and beautiful mountains of northern Thailand, Chiang Mai has the advantages of a city but with the feel of a small town where the traditions of Thai living are preserved.

The country of Cambodia, officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula and is bordered by Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. The capital and largest city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, is the political, economic, and cultural center of the country. The country has a wealth of diversity and minority groups including:  Vietnamese, Chinese, Chams and 30 independent hill tribes.

Cambodia's ancient name is "Kambuja." The Khmer Empire  which flourished for over 600 years built monumental temples such as Angkor Wat (Angkor Temple)  and facilitated the spread of first Hinduism, then Buddhism to much of Southeast Asia. The Vietnam war, or more accurately, the American War in Vietnam, extended into Cambodia, giving rise to the Communist Khmer Rouge which took Phnom Penh in 1975 and whose rule resulted in political executions, starvation, forced labor and displacement.  After a decade of Vietnamese occupation following the fall of the Khmer Rouge and a transitional period when the United Nations directly administered the country in the early 1990's, this war-ravaged nation was reunited under the monarchy in 1993 and has seen rapid progress in the economic and human resource areas while rebuilding from decades of civil war. Part of this development includes an amazing array of NGOs, which operate in and around Phnom Penh. 

You will spend the first 7 weeks of the program in Chiang Mai, studying Thai culture, language, and society on the campus of Chiang Mai University; living near the campus in beautiful new international student housing; and engaging in substantive volunteer service for 10-15 hours per week. The last 7 weeks are spent in Phnom Penh, Cambodia living with a Cambodian family in a homestay and learning and serving alongside Cambodian youth in an NGO focusing on leadership training and other assistance and education for less advantaged Cambodian children, youth and families. 

Your volunteer service immerses you in the culture and deepens your understanding of both Thai and Cambodian societies in a way that goes beyond that experienced in traditional study abroad programs. It also contributes to your knowledge and use of the Thai and Cambodian (Khmer) languages.

Experience Chiang Mai AND Phnom Penh from a Local Perspective

Nestled in the mountains of northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is an amazing city with roots dating back to the 13th century. It is the second largest city in the country, but in many ways it remains a small town, attracting visitors for its historical charm, dramatic mountain backdrop, hundreds of temples, and friendly people of diverse cultural identities. In Chiang Mai, you will enjoy exploring rich cultural sites, sampling (and learning to prepare!) Thai cuisine, browsing exquisite handicrafts at the many late-night shopping bazaars, observing festivals and traditional performances, and experiencing the warmth and graciousness of the Thai people.

Cambodia has a historically rich cultural and artistic heritage that was all but squashed under the communist regime. Khmer style emerged from the combination of indigenous animistic beliefs Hinduism and Buddhism. These two religions, along with the Sanskrit language and other elements of Indian civilization have shaped Cambodian culture.

Near the confluence of three rivers - the Mekong, the Bassac and Tonle Sap, Phnom Penh is divided into three sections - the north, an attractive residential area; the south or the French part of the city (France ruled Cambodia for close to 100 years) with its ministries, banks and colonial houses; and the center with its narrow lanes, amazing open-air markets, foods stalls and shops. A country of stunning natural beauty and beautiful people, Cambodia will captivate you.




Language of Instruction: English

Affiliated Institution: Chiang Mai University

Courses & Credits:

Required for Thailand Section:

  •  Thai Language I | Credits: 3
  •  Service-Learning™: Institutions of Thai Society | Credits: 1.5
  •  IPSL Pre and Post Departure Seminar | Credits: .5

Required for Cambodian Section:

  •  Khmer Language I | Credits: 3
  •  Service-Learning™: Institutions of Thai Society | Credits: 1.5
  •  IPSL Pre and Post Departure Seminar | Credits: .5

Elective(s) from the following possible choices - these may vary depending on term and also location * See IPSL website for details on electives offered for each section (Part I - Thailand and  and Part II - Cambodia of the SEACS program:

  •   Buddhist Meditative Traditions in SE Asia | Credits: 3 
  •   S.E. Asian Politics | Credits: 3
  •   War & Peace in S.E. Asia | Credits: 3
  •   The Government and Politics of Thailand | Credits: 3
  •   Political Sociology: The Struggle for Human Rights in S.E. Asia | Credits: 3
  •   Human Security in Asia | Credits: 3
  •   Government and Politics of Thailand | Credits: 3
  •   Self-Exploration through Visual Art and Culture of Thailand | Credits: 3
  •   International Relations of Mainland SE Asia | Credits: 3


Chiang Mai - Students live in modern apartments very close to the campus of Chiang Mai University with a Thai student roommate. The apartments accommodate both international and Thai students, and are situated near just some of many inexpensive cafes and open-air eateries that are quite delicious. There are also many services on campus and in the dorms including a post office, banks, cafes, fitness rooms, a pool, hair salons, stores, laundry service and much more. There will be a meal stipend provided for breakfasts and dinners during the weekdays upon arrival. Program fees do not include some meals and utilities, electricity and water. Utilities would be paid directly to the building management (averages about $20 per month).

Phnom Penh -  You will live in a homestay with a local host family and will be provided all breakfasts and dinners. The homestay is an integral part of the program, giving you the opportunity to make lifelong friends, reinforce the language skills acquired during daily lessons, and experience modern Cambodian culture from "the inside." Host families are carefully selected, experienced with hosting students, and view the experience as a form of cultural exchange. 



Service Opportunities

  • human services to the poor
  • assisting with education and life skills training for disadvantaged children
  • English language consulting and/or tutoring
  • assisting in leadership training workshops for Cambodians of all ages
  • schools for the deaf and blind
  • a residential school for children living with HIV/AIDS
  • organizations serving the needs of gay and transgender people
  • environmental/conservation programs
  • hospitals and rehabilitation centers
  • organizations serving the elderly and the handicapped, Burmese refugees/immigrants, street children, hill tribe girls, sex workers, or farmers who are seeking another means of livelihood
  • and more...




  • Accelerated language learning
  • Integrated study abroad experience through study, service-learning and homestay
  • Making a difference to people in need
  • Full cultural immersion
  • International practical field experience
  • Meaningful growth and personal insight through regular assigned reflection

Program Director: Mr. Adam Dedman


Eligibility: The program welcomes students of any nation who have a high school diploma or equivalent credential. TOEFL equivalent 550.

Program Fees Include: Instruction; administrative fees; orientation; service placement and supervision; academic excursions, health insurance; roundtrip airfare from Bangkok to Phnom Penh (students must pay for roundtrip airfare from Chiang Mai to Bangkok). In Chiang Mai, a meal stipend for dinner and breakfast for the weekdays will be provided and full accommodation in international student dorms. In Phnom Penh, students stay in a shared student apartment that is self-catering. There are no meals nor meal stipend provided in Phnom Penh. There may be an opportunity to stay in a homestay if available and suitable.

Personal expenses NOT covered include:  Passport fees; visa fees (both for Thailand and Cambodia); international airfare; books; all lunches and meals on weekends in Chiang Mai, all meals in Phnom Penh, local transportation; flight from Chiang Mai to Bangkok in order to get to Phnom Penh and return; inexpensive school uniforms in Chiang Mai--required uniform accessories can be purchased on campus and the black skirt and white blouse (females) and black slacks and white shirt (males) as well as black shoes can be brought from home; and spending money. A small monthly fee for utilities--air conditioning, water and electric-- in Chiang Mai is payable directly to the building management. Students are responsible for their own bedding (also very inexpensive).



Augsburg students automatically receive a scholarship representing 5% of your semester-length program fee (almost $1000!) to use as you see fit. (Scholarships are disbursed after arrival in-country and are for semester-length programs only).

The first three AUGSBURG students who study abroad with IPSL on a semester program, starting Spring 2017, will receive an additional flight scholarship (max $900 value).

If you would like more information about these potential scholarships please do not hesitate to contact Andrea Dvorak ( dvorak and IPSL.

If you need any assistance in applying to study abroad, please contact Andrea Dvorak or one of the Peer Advisors in the Study Abroad/Away Office (Christensen, lower level).

Join us on  October 13th for a free online open house to learn more about IPSL's undergraduate programs! This will be a time to ask questions of an IPSL team member.
What: IPSL Undergraduate Programs Online Open House  

When: Thu, Oct 13, 2016 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Join online from your computer, tablet or smartphone:   

Or Join by phone: 1 (224) 501-3312

Access Code: 899-852-557

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Fall Semester 2019 03/01/2019 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA
Spring Semester 2020 10/01/2019 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.