In the application and preparation of my stay abroad as a free mover, the organization has me, MicroEDU. com supported. I had competent contact persons who always had a quick answer to every question. This made the application process quick and easy.
For the visa you can simply go to the consulate in Germany (e. g. in Stuttgart) and the visa will be issued there directly. I bought the multiple-entry visa for € 150 in order to have some flexibility when traveling.
I looked for an apartment in advance on the Internet, which was not a major problem. However, many students only found an apartment on site without any problems and ended up paying a lower price for comparable apartments. So that’s definitely recommended.
Studies (university & courses)
1. College of Management Mahidol University (CMMU)
I attended the International Program Master in Management at the College of Management at Mahidol University (CMMU). In contrast to the Thai program, the general language of instruction here is English, which makes course selection much easier compared to other universities. More than 3000 students have participated in this program, which is roughly equivalent to an MBA, since 1997. Mahidol University is in various rankings each of the top three universities in Thailand and enjoys an excellent reputation in the country. Around 80% of the students already work full-time in companies during their studies and some of them already have considerable work experience.
Specializing in entrepreneurship at college means that there are a particularly large number of students who are already running their own startup or their own successful company, which was very impressive for me. To make this possible, the courses take place in the evenings and on weekends. Contrary to some fears, the level of my courses was absolutely at the level of my German university of applied sciences. Some of the courses were quite demanding. However, the level varies from course to course and who comes from a German university, especially where in economics is very much deformed, it will be easier here The courses usually had 3 hours of lectures per week and a lot of preparation required at home – there were 3 Thai credits (6 ECTS) per course.
During my time at CMMU there were around 50 international guest students, mainly from Germany (LMU, Mannheim), France, Belgium, Switzerland (University of St. Gallen) and Denmark (Copenhagen Business School). The Thai students were unfortunately very busy due to their work and as a result one had more contact with other exchange students than with the Thais – but there were also enough friendly relationships with the Thais.
2. Financial Management
The Financial Management course was taught by Dr. Simon Zaby from Germany teaches. After experience in the family business and with his own consulting company, Dr. Zaby at the Universities of St. Gallen and Basel in Switzerland. He has been living in Thailand for several years and teaches at the CMMU with great passion. 30 students attended the course, 4 of whom were exchange students (13%). Course time was on Saturdays: 1. 30 p. m. – 4. 30 p. m.
In addition to classic content such as investment and finance accounting. This course focused on topics such as financial statement analysis, financial planning and forecasting, financial ratios and working capital management. The basis for evaluating the course was an assignment (15%), a midterm exam (35%), a final exam (40%), a short test covering a chapter (5%) and participation in all appointments (5%). The assignment was on the topic of Financial Statement Analysis. A company’s annual financial statements were analyzed extensively in groups with regard to various profitability, liquidity and creditworthiness indicators. Trends and strategies were analyzed and recommendations for action were derived. The assignment consisted of a written part (approx. 30 pages) and a 30-minute presentation. It was a very exciting task that you could learn a lot from yourself.
Overall, I really enjoyed the course. Even if some of the content was repetition for me personally, it didn’t hurt to deepen it from another perspective and with other methods. In addition, there was a lot of new teaching content that I was not yet familiar with in the form. Dr. Zaby also went to great lengths to ensure that every student could follow and always came to the course well prepared.
3. International Financial and Management Accounting
Also at Dr. Zaby I attended the International Financial and Management Accounting course. This course was mainly about international accounting standards such as IFRS and US-GAAP as well as internal accounting and controlling methods such as budgeting, etc. Of 17 participants, 4 were exchange students (24%). The evaluation of the course consisted of attendance (5%), an assignment (15%), a midterm exam (35%) and a final exam (45%). The course took place on Thursday evenings from 6:00 p. m. to 9:00 p. m.
During the assignment we should analyze an accounting scandal in small groups and derive recommendations for action on how something like this can be avoided in the future. Our group of 5 with 3 Thai students and 2 Germans chose the Toshiba case, in which billions were smuggled past the tax authorities through the abusive application of accounting methods. I particularly liked the second part of this course, which dealt with budgeting and various controlling methods.
4. Introduction to Business Planning
This course was taught by Dr. Edward Rubesch from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston. Dr. Rubesch has lived in Thailand for around 20 years and has already built up many startups. 29 students attended the course, 9 of whom were exchange students (31%).
Contrary to my original assumption, we did not have to fully formulate a business plan in this course. Instead, it was initially more generally about entrepreneurship and its success factors. During the semester we formed small groups to fine-tune a start-up idea, which was presented to a fictitious investor panel at the end of the semester. The investor panel, before which we held our pitch, consisted of former students of the course who are now internationally successful and some of them run their own small companies. My group consisted of three Thai students, one student from Denmark and me. Our business idea was an app with which you can pay on the go and easily share bills in restaurants or taxis with friends by simply scanning them. Our team was able to convince at the presentation and won the first prize of the competition.
On this course, it was not really clear for a long time what was really expected of us and where we were headed. However, I especially enjoyed the ending. Playing through a business idea and preparing the presentation to potential investors has taught you an incredible amount. From market analysis to financial planning, there was also plenty of material for intercultural discussions. Course time: Saturdays, 9:00 a. m. – 12:00 p. m.
5. Consulting Practice: Data to Intelligence
The Consulting Practice course only lasted the first half of the semester and accordingly only gave 1. 5 Thai credits (3 ECTS). The course was taught by Amorn Pimanmas from Thailand. I was the only exchange student out of 25 participants (4%). The course took place on Sundays, 9:00 a. m. – 12:00 p. m.
The course was about preparing, analyzing and presenting company data in a way that is specific to your interests. For this purpose, we analyzed the given sales and customer data of a real company in small groups on the computer. The focus here was on the analysis with Excel. In this course there were tasks that had to be done every week and so you had to meet again as a team almost every week for several hours in order to prepare the tasks. At the end of the course we should present our analysis and recommendations derived from the company data. The focus was not only on the visual design of charts and slides, but also on the presentation technology.
In this course, I particularly enjoyed working with Excel, although there was little new content for me personally – I would have liked to have had more in-depth knowledge here. However, the intercultural experiences in group work were also very valuable in this course.
Thailand – country and people
The CMMU is located in Bangkok (Thai officially Krung Thep), the capital of Thailand and the center of a booming metropolitan area with over 14 million people. Accordingly, the city itself is above all loud, hot and exhausting. However, once you get used to the everyday traffic chaos, the city offers first-class sights, an exciting nightlife and a good starting point for excursions and short trips all over the country. My personal highlight in Bangkok: An evening drink on one of the many rooftop bars!
In Bangkok itself, the extreme gap between rich and poor in Thailand can also be seen. Luxury apartment high-rises are springing up like mushrooms and are increasingly displacing the simple corrugated iron huts, which are now hardly to be seen. I stayed at Casa Condo Asoke-Dindaeng myself and paid around 400 € for a 2-room apartment. The facility is highly recommended, as it is not far from the CMMU and offers a beautiful pool area where you can easily forget all the stress of the big city. With a little more research and luck, however, you can also find apartments for 350 € or cheaper. In terms of cost of living, you should plan at least another 450 € per month (excluding major shopping trips and short trips). As a free mover, the tuition fees at the CMMU were around 3000 €.
Due to the large number of working students, you often have a very travel-friendly schedule that allows you many short trips to beautiful Thailand. You should also plan a lot of time afterwards to get to know the country and the wonderful people. My personal travel highlights were: The Similan Islands in the south (definitely plan with an overnight stay) and a visit to the national parks (Erawan and Khao Yai), where you can still marvel at real rainforests with a diverse flora and fauna. The north is definitely worth a visit too.
The Thai population is about 90% Buddhist, which is not only evident in the many beautiful temples in the country, but also in the personality of the people. Especially when working in groups, there are cultural differences, as Thais often find it difficult to reject something or openly contradict someone (loss of face). So it sometimes happens that one thinks that something has already been agreed in the group and then realizes afterwards that not everyone is happy with this solution. A special instinct and attention is therefore necessary for intercultural projects. In general, however, the Thais, especially in the countryside outside of Bangkok, are very friendly and accommodating.
In conclusion, it can be said that Bangkok and the CMMU were the perfect place for my semester abroad and I can highly recommend a semester abroad there.