Unlocking the World of Real Estate: Notre Dame’s Thailand Summer Abroad Program

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For the second consecutive year, the Thailand Summer Abroad Program, developed by Professor Acosta in collaboration with Notre Dame International, offered students a unique opportunity to delve into the dynamic world of real estate in Asia. The Thailand Summer Program was truly an incredible experience, and I am so grateful to have been a part of it. This immersive three-week experience has been centered in the vibrant heart of Asia, Bangkok, Thailand, where students not only explored the rich cultural tapestry but also gained invaluable insights into one of the continent's hottest real estate markets.

Applications for the Summer of 2024 will close on November 15th.

The thriving real estate sector in Bangkok provided an ideal setting for students to gain an initial understanding of Asian markets and broaden their horizons. Thanks to a close partnership with Asset World Corporation, one of Thailand's premier real estate developers, students have had the privilege of gaining an insider's perspective on managing a diverse portfolio of properties and making high-stakes strategic decisions.

At the heart of the program lies a challenging case study that encapsulates the essence of real estate development and design. Students are presented with vacant plots of land and tasked with formulating comprehensive development plans, designing buildings, creating architectural sketches, and developing financial models. Most importantly, they were able to articulate the rationale behind their investment decisions and designs, striving to create spaces of lasting value.

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The students were not left alone on this challenge. Professor Acosta works closely with Asset World Corporation to bring in its leadership team and industry expertise to support and guide the case teams. Lee Lin, a Notre Dame graduate and industry expert, served as the student's mentor, offering invaluable guidance on the intricacies of the Thai real estate market, hotel brand selection, unit economics of the hotel industry, and deal structures with brands like Marriott. At the end of the program, students had the opportunity to pitch their ideas directly to the CEO, CIO, and key stakeholders of Asset World Corporation.

The summer program is open to students of all majors and levels of international experience.
One of my favorite parts of the case study was our wide range of backgrounds. The groups comprised of students from STEM to Architecture to Finance backgrounds, which really opened my eyes to new ways of approaching real estate and made our presentations much more representative of the development process. One of Professor Acosta’s “favorite aspects of running this program is seeing students with limited or no international experiences leave the program inspired to be a global citizen and pursue their passions with a global perspective”.

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However, this program is not just about boardrooms and balance sheets. It also emphasizes cultural enrichment, with students venturing beyond Bangkok to explore the charming cities of Chiang Mai and Phuket, immersing themselves in the rich tapestry of Thai culture. Abigail Toth, a junior studying finance, said, “While exploring temples in Bangkok, snorkeling in Phuket, meeting elephants in Chiang Mai, and touring new developments throughout the country, I became aware of the world around me in a new way and formed meaningful friendships. After the trip, I returned to campus even more excited to be a part of the real estate minor!”

Students discovered that real estate isn't just about profit and loss—it also addresses some of the world's most pressing challenges. In Bangkok, the city's gradual sinking due to land subsidence is a critical issue. Through the program, students learned why Bangkok is particularly susceptible to climate change effects and witnessed firsthand the city's investments in climate-resilient infrastructure.

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In essence, the Notre Dame Thailand Summer Abroad Program, in partnership with Asset World Corporation, offers students a unique blend of real-world experience, cultural immersion, and a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities inherent in the dynamic world of real estate. Students’ experiences in Thailand “fueled [their] excitement to study real estate and encouraged [them] to work in the industry” (Abigail Toth, ND ‘25). The trip equipped them not only with the knowledge and skills but also with the ethical mindset needed to make a lasting impact in this ever-evolving field.


Note: Special thanks to Mrs. Wallapa Traisorat, President and CEO of Asset World, and Lee Lin (ND Architecture class of 2009), Managing Director for Asset World, for making this program possible.