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Studying abroad in Thailand

Posted January 17, 2017
By Michaela Baker, sophomore visual communications student

Photos provided by Stephanie Woronko

"What's wrong with you? You will have been to three countries, but still no Europe?"

Stephanie Woronko is regularly asked this question when people hear of the non-traditional countries she's already visited.

She visited China during a high school trip and the country of Oman — on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula — as part of a Maymester course after her freshman year at USC. Photos and videos from the Oman trip»

Now, she has embarked on a new adventure to Thailand. 

A sophomore public relations student, Woronko is studying at Mahidol University in Bangkok through the Center for International Studies Abroad program.

Like China and Oman, Thailand is not considered  your "typical" study abroad destination, but Woronko said she has always been fascinated with Indochina due to its unique blend of Indian and Chinese influence.

"In my opinion, studying abroad is such a unique opportunity to fully immerse yourself in a culture without any obligations to buy a house or permanently reside in your destination of choice, so why not pick a country that tests your limits," Woronko said. "Europe doesn’t need any more public relations — over half of Americans studying abroad go there." 

Stephanie's decision to major in public relations was sparked by her trip to China when she realized that people's views of foreign countries are often misguided.

What's wrong with you? You will have been to three countries, but still no Europe?"

A question Woronko is regularly asked

"After I returned home from my 11th grade trip to China, I realized for the first time that what people perceive of the world is not always the truth, and that such misperceptions influence the way that people act. I felt myself coming to life as I tried to use my experience to change the way people thought about China, and I realized that promoting a cause is what I want to do for a career," Woronko said. 

And she found it easy to include a semester-long study abroad trip in her undergraduate studies and career goals. 

Woronko worked with the Study Abroad Office while planning her trip to Thailand. She saved elective courses to take while abroad and kept careful track of deadlines to ensure she is able to finish all her coursework on schedule.

The Study Abroad office sponsors a blog for students to record their trips. Woronko blogged her trip to Oman and will be writing about her time in Thailand as well.

"I hope to expose the beauty of Thailand in lieu of the common perception of prostitutes and crime, and to experience the local culture and not fall into the tourist traps that I know exist. Just seeing the scenery of a foreign country does not mean that you engaged in the culture, and that is why keeping a blog is so important to me," Woronko said. "It’s constant accountability to create interesting dialogue and experiences, because if it is simply a reflection of your Instagram account, people aren’t going to pay attention."

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Michaela Baker

Michaela is a sophomore visual communications student from Irmo, South Carolina. Her interests include design, photography and videography. She is a web assistant for the College of Information and Communications.


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