Here I've listed the process leading up to my departure in October 2010. I have enrolled in the One Year Thai Course at the Language Institute based at Chiang Mai University. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments.
Firstly, why did I choose Chiang Mai University - CMU?
To be honest, because I was organising this from Ausltralia, rightly or wrongly, I felt safer dealing directly with the University rather than another organisation. Besides, I've actually seen CMU, so I know it exists. Also, I thought an accreditation (if there is such a thing) from a University would/might have more validity than from elsewhere?
Why the Thai Language Course?
Obviously, I really like Thailand and it's people and would love to be able to communicate on less of a 'tourist' level. I'm an artist and love the Thai script, not to mention the food and culture. (I could also do with a change in my life right now). The course also covers other aspects of Thai life and secures my Visa for the duration, which is a giant headache I won't have to deal with whilst there.
"In addition to a solid grounding in Thai communication skills, students will also explore many of the most important parts of contemporary Thai culture. Every week will include an in-depth look at several of these topics: Buddhism, Thai traditional medicine, "Sanook" (fun), current events, and Thailand's place in the world. The classes will include many excursions to temples and villages, as well as unique and interesting guided self-study opportunities." - CMU
How much was the course?
The total cost of the course for the year is 30,000 Baht. The deposit required to secure enrollment is 15,000 Baht. The balance is due on the first day of class. CMU sends an email with the amount payable and a link to their payment page. Once the deposit has been paid, CMU will email the reciept. For peace of mind I paid the deposit via Paypal.
What if something happens and I can't attend on my planned date?
My question exactly during the Red Shirt drama earlier this year. The Uni's response to my question regarding deferral:
"In fact, we allow for deferral for up to a year. Please make sure you give 30 days notice however as we try to determine the number of students attending the course and how many teachers are needed. Once the balance is paid in full, the course can be deferred up until the first day of class without any problems." - CMU
How many hours a week will I be attending the course?
"The Chiang Mai University 1 year Thai language courses always start in the first week of every month and are held in the evenings from 5:30 - 7:30, on either Tuesday and Thursday or Monday and Wednesday or Saturday and Sunday mornings 10-12. 2 hours per class, 2 classes per week, over the course of the entire year. The exact days the classes will be held on are set about 3 months in advance." - CMU
Where will I live?
My circumstances are a little different than others. Stray's TEFL course, also at CMU, is organised slightly cheaper by TAT (which we found out later is highly regarded by CMU) and includes accommodation. We will be staying whereever TAT has incorporated into his package, for the first month or so. However, the Uni did reccommend Sa-nguan Malee, starting at 5,000 Baht per month.
What's the go with my Visa?
The following is what CMU advised:
I am enrolled in the November Thai 1 Year Language Course and the Uni Co-ordinator has my visa paperwork scheduled according to this date. A visa application cannot be filed too early before entry as it will be rejected. I can enter the country about 1 month before the course start date on a standard tourist visa. My other (48 week) visa paperwork can be started about 2 months before the course start date thus allowing me to obtain my visa about 1 month before my departure. So, in my case the Uni will process my visa paperwork around the beginning of September.
Information which has been provided to the CMU by email.
1. Departure Date
2. Name "exactly" as it appears on the Passport
3. Passport Expiry Date
4. Royal Thai Embassy that I will be visiting/mailing to in Australia.
May 2010 - to date CMU has been professional and a pleasure to deal with.