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Estonian makes education history in Phuket

PHUKET: My name is Helery Homutov and I am a student at Prince of Songkla University (PSU), Phuket.

By Jody Houton

Sunday 18 November 2012, 01:09PM

Helery Homutov.

Helery Homutov.

I am also a student of Tartu University of Pärnu College in Estonia. I am 22 years-old and I am in my final year of my bachelor’s degree in Tourism and Hotel Management.
For several years I had been considering an opportunity to improve my tourism studies abroad.

Although there are many different international programmes and destinations that I could have gone to, I finally decided upon Phuket.

I was interested in PSU as they had a Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism, and after reading the curriculum I felt that I could learn a lot from the courses that are offered.

Personally I wanted to see how Phuket’s tourism industry is dealing with the huge numbers of tourists and how tourism affects the nature and the local people.

I thought that a semester in Thailand would be an academically-beneficial opportunity and would like to be somebody who works in the tourism sector who has had a real life experience in one of the most popular tourism destinations in the world.

My family and friends were surprised to say the least that I had decided to study outside of Europe. My friends had very stereotypical thoughts about Thailand and kept telling me that this is more of a sun, sand and sea destination and not a place for studying.

Thailand and especially Phuket is a very famous holiday destination for Estonians, so maybe I even wanted to show them that there is a person who is actually going there for studying as well.

The experience has been great so far. I really like the fact that I can smile everywhere. A simple smile can make you so much more cheerful and it gives a good energy.

Back home people do not smile like that. It would be considered weird if you walk around with a wide smile. People would think is there something wrong with you or question why you are smiling to strangers? But here I now do that without thinking.

I enjoy the Phuket weather, especially as in Estonia it is already snowing. I like the students and the hospitality I have received. Of course there were some drawbacks at the beginning when I arrived.

For example I had some difficulties in eating Thai food as I do not really eat very spicy food, and here you often do not know what are you ordering until you get and taste it.
Also, I was bit afraid about the traffic and I was scared to rent a scooter.

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Soon I realised that the scooter is the best and easiest way to travel around and now I am used to left handed traffic and the local driving style. I think that I am getting used to the local lifestyle day by day.

When I compare my home university and PSU the biggest difference is the fact that we have to wear uniforms here.

For me it is the first time in my life that I have worn a uniform in school and I actually really enjoy it. I do not have to think twice in the mornings what to wear and also it gives a sense of belonging to one group – one university.

When I’m wearing the uniform outside of campus I really get a lot of attention. Locals are often whispering and I can hear them say “moo-oo” to each other as this is how you refer to PSU in Thai.

I like that I can show them that PSU has international students and it is known outside of Asia as well.

The teachers here are very nice to me and they always try to find ways in the lessons to ask more about my home country and make sure that everything is okay.

We often have guest lecturers and I like the campus area here as in Estonia they are not so big. The International Affairs Centre in PSU also often arranges different social activities like excursions or movie days and there are a variety of things to do with your free time.

I am the first Estonian who has studied at PSU and I really hope that when I go back I can spread the word about the university.

I would definitely recommend the opportunity to study abroad in Thailand.

My experience here is so different from my culture and everyday life. Being here opens your mind and you start to see things differently. 

You might start to understand what you truly want from your life.



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