Russia and Thailand are two entirely different countries that have been nonetheless cooperating in a variety of areas, including education. There is a growing interest in learning Russian in Thailand as well as towards studying in Russian universities. Most often youngsters choose such fields as engineering, natural sciences, and IT-related disciplines.
Unlike African or Chinese students, Thai youth have only started exploring the educational market of Russia. Most Thai students have been admitted into the country under the quota system. Rossotrudnichestvo allocates quotas to international applicants, who if approved, are granted the right to study in a Russian university of their choice.
Why do people from Thailand choose Russia as a study destination, though? And what difficulties do they encounter here? Tanakorn Savatdichay, a graduate of St. Petersburg Mining University, responded to these questions.
“I was born in Chanthaburi. As a child, I already knew I wanted to become a geologist or gemologist. Stones were my true passion, and mineralogy was the area of particular interest to me. I also wanted to see the world, meet people from other cultures. Therefore once I graduated from high school, I started looking into international study opportunities,” says Tanakorn.
The boy entered the Srinakharinwirot University, Bangkok, but did not stop browsing universities abroad. Two months later, he saw an advert on the Russian Embassy’s website informing of the competition held by Rossotrudnichestvo. Tanakorn decided to participate and applied. Out of several hundred contenders, only 18 were chosen that year; Tanakorn was lucky to be one of them.
“My parents were totally against my leaving. They were worried I was too young to handle the change associated with moving to another country. Their attitude towards my plans, however, started changing when I told them I had been admitted to Mining University. My father had worked as an oil engineer for over 30 years. He was delighted I would be receiving high-quality mining engineering education,” recalls Tanakorn.
The young man says he was the only person of Thai origin the year he entered the university. Still, he had no issues with adapting to the new realities, and three months afterwards, he could already speak some Russian. As Tanakorn notes, his groupmates and teachers were willingly helping him with learning the language.
“I was quite impressed with the quality of education and the university’s infrastructure. Three campuses are located nearby, thus allowing to spread out faculties and departments evenly between them. This way, the university is never too full of students. University’s labs were at our disposal at any time, whether we needed to study on our own or do some research. Gyms, swimming pools, cafés, nicely furnished dormitories – Mining University has it all to offer, aiming at delivering an enabling environment.
Nevertheless, there is a strict educational system behind it. I spent six years in Russia, yet I never had enough time for anything but studying. On the New Year’s Eve, for instance, I was usually preparing for exams,” says Tanakorn.
The Thailand-born earned a Specialist’s degree in Geophysical Methods of Prospecting and Exploration of Mineral Deposits. The program’s graduates gain numerous skills, including those in the estimation of mineral reserves, computer-based deposit modeling, and the ability to run lab tests on minerals, rock formations, and ores.
Upon return to the home state, Tanakorn decided to apply for work at PTT Public Company Limited, the country’s largest oil and gas company. He did not, however, succeed. The coronavirus pandemic forced both public and private enterprises across the country to stop hiring new employees.
“Field-specific knowledge is important, of course, but university life also taught me to think critically. I can make independent decisions and adapt to the ever-changing environment. The coronavirus outbreak made me realize that even the most stable company could become unstable, and I decided to launch my own business. To do so, I had to upgrade my knowledge of mineralogy. I took a 6-month course in the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences,” notes Tanakorn.
Sometime in the future he, now a young specialist, sees himself as a jewelry producer.
“Russia has become my second home. I am missing it and my Russian friends a lot – even the nickname ‘Tana Popcorn’ they gave me,” admits the graduate.