Every TEAN student heading to Thailand for the summer battles with deciding whether to stay for 3 weeks or a seemingly daunting 7 weeks. When I was making this decision, I had never been out of the country before, but I decided to be adventurous and choose the 7-week program. I didn’t know it in that moment, but deciding to stay for the full 7-week program was one of the best decisions of my life. Thailand is a beautiful country with new experiences waiting for you every day and 3 weeks isn’t nearly enough time to explore it all. Here are my four reasons on why you should stay for 7 weeks, and maximize your time abroad this summer.

1. More Time to Explore

There are more than 300 Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai alone. Not to mention beautiful nature trails, an abundance of waterfalls, night markets, elephant parks, cabaret shows, bar strips, blocks of street vendors, bungee jumping excursions, white water rafting, cat cafes and everything in between. The list of opportunities in Thailand are endless, and 3 weeks is not enough time to explore them all.

Time to Explore

2. The One Week Break

Even though you won’t be spending nearly as much time in a classroom as back home, class will definitely eat into your exploration time. When you’re staying for 3 weeks, this is especially tough because that only leaves you 4 completely free days (2 weekends) to go exploring, plus some of the included excursions like the village stay can overlap with weekends. For 3 week students, that last Friday of the 3rd week they are taking their final then preparing to get back on the plane back to the US. For the 7 week students, they are taking their final then preparing for a trip to the islands, planning out a Chiang Mai food tour, purchasing a ticket for another country, or planning for whatever else they have in mind for their one week break. You’re free to go, and do whatever you please during this week but you’ll only get it if you do the 7-week program.

3. Forging Friendships

Making new friends isn’t something that happens overnight. When you get to Thailand not only will you be introduced to a new group of American students from all over the country, but you’ll be introduced to the Thai roommates / buddies as well. Although my group clicked pretty instantly, it wasn’t until that 3rd week that we all became close friends. Unfortunately that was also the same time that the 3-week students had to leave. It’s rough making new friends just to have to leave them right after, so make sure you give yourself as much time as possible with them.

4. Home will Always be Home

No matter if you choose the 3-week program or the 7-week, home will always be there when you get back. Therefore, don’t let the fear of homesickness cause you to shortchange yourself. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so capitalize on it by staying for as long as you can.

Chrissy is a TEAN Alum and Global Ambassador at the Georgia State University. She studied abroad with TEAN in Chiang Mai, Thailand over the summer.