I moved to the U.S in Nov. 2006 and by now you would think that I am probably more used to the culture, people, food, and stuff like that already. But after all I think I’m not and won’t ever be fully adapted.
Here are the things in the US that Ive been dealing with and trying to adapt myself to. I know another country might have things different than here, but after all might be something in common, all these came up to me as I separated in categories.
Culture shock/homesickness – I put those two subjects in the same category because they are related. After I graduated from university I had never been jobless or outside of Thailand for a long period of time. The only country that I had ever been to is Singapore and that was just about a week or so. Other than that was just inside Thailand my whole life. See the examples below what will affect my culture shock and homesickness.
All my family and friends are living in Thailand and that was really tough to be apart from them.
It is so cold I hate cold weather. Its not fair to me who grew up in the hot and humid country and has to deal with this kind of cold dry weather.
I couldn’t speak English that well, nobody could understand what I said. Except my husband, who has been trying and has been the most patient man ever to stay by my side and understand what Ive been through. Patience to the point that he went to work with me on my first job in the States, just to make sure I would be okay for the rest of the day.
Transportation isn’t convenient here (but their service and the drivers are good). When I lived in Bangkok I had never driven the car, but that was not a problem for me at all because I had so many choices to choose from either bus, taxi, BTS, MRT or ferry. Here around where I live I had to use either bus or taxi, and for taxi just forget about it because its way too expensive for someone who has no job. Until a year later, once I finally got a job, had some money to save, and the most important part was learn how to drive and get my driver’s license. And that’s when I was finally able to drive myself where I want to be.
Thank you for some stupid American, who is racist and doesn’t open their mind to the foreigners. They made me stronger as I am now.
People – My first impression about people in this country is that they are so revealing. I wasn’t ready for this at all, but sooner or later I had to. When it comes to the relationship either between friends, your co-workers, or even your husband/wife, it is a really important factor. I don’t remember when and how many times that I argue with my husband because I keep shutting down, close myself off and not talking. Part of it is because I was raised by my mom who is afraid to speak up for anything and is so shy when it comes to the discussion. And another part is from the Thai culture as you all know.
It took me over 2 years to learn how to be more open, I know its still an issue that I have to work on it, but my husband always said to me today I am much better than what I was before. I think when I have to work and hang out among American people it helped me to come out of my shell a little bit. Because they will talk or say something either they like or do not like, just like you know what is on their mind. And they are not afraid to express their feelings. Sometime I think its a good thing if you want to hear somebody else’s opinion and you will use that as the resource to make changes or something better for yourself (because maybe they have a better idea than your own). Sometimes though it can hurt you, if you hear something you dont want to hear.
After all I think it was very beneficial for me; like when it comes to work and somebody trying to take advantage of me and I will speak up and wont let it happen to me. And I have less problems with my husband.
Food – food has become my biggest issue after a couple of months of living in the States. I’m considered an addict to really spicy food!!! And of course I love Thai cuisine. I found the Mexican food is the closest food to suit my taste. Other than that I really have no other choice except to sprinkle the chili powder into my dishes. My mother in law always makes fun of me about maybe I should carry my own chili powder bottle in my purse.
The Thai restaurants near where I live, none of them are good and they aren’t authentic either. I would assume that when your customer is Thai and orders extra spicy you should automatically know what has to be done, but not these places, and nonetheless they are really pricy. So basically no Thai restaurant around here cooks better than my kitchen 🙂 .
The Thai stuff and ingredients are not that difficult to find abroad, some can be found online and some you can rely on the Vietnamese, Philippine, Chinese or any Asian grocery store near where you live. So I usually dont have the problem with the basic ingredients. The only thing that I normally cant find and something that makes me really desperate is Holy basil its just like we have Thai word that says “it is really difficult to find as to search for a needle in the ocean”. So this year, my husband and I had Khao Pad Ga-prao twice and that’s only because my friend in New York was kind enough to bring the holy basil from New York for us.
The other states like Chicago, Texas, California, or where they have a lot of Thai people live don’t seem to have this problem as much as here in Pennsylvania.
Discipline, Rule, and Laws – they’re really strict in this country compared to Thailand. And they have the rigid and powerful penalty for when somebody doesn’t want to follow the rule. This is good in my opinion because it will make people follow the rules and have more discipline for themselves.
When I was in Thailand I was never on time except when I had to be at work and even then not always. Even though I usually got so many notices and that’s it nothing else to use for my discipline. Here I would have been fired if I did that.
I think every place in Thailand should have the excessive penalty for the people and their employee. Not like when something happens then they will make a big deal about it, create the rules or laws so people can follow, and then a couple of months later nobody cares to follow that anymore so they allow the same mistakes to happen again. I know that will haunt me later when I move back to Thailand because I will be expecting people to be on time, follow the rule, etc. but it will be barely that something like that will happen in this country.
Miscellaneous – other things that some people did it and it annoys you, its just small things and they have no idea that for Thai people we think its a big deal. I don’t think its anybody fault, but sometimes it can annoy you or at least me.
Shoeless before entering the door – we think its rude when somebody will walk into your house and still have the shoes on. So please take off your shoes before you get into my house. I always tell my step sons when they come over to my house and now they learn to take them off before. For Americans I know they could be careless for that.
Feet are not polite – feet are considered the dirty part of your body because you use them to walk. Do not allow to touch anyone with your feet, or point at anything with your foot/feet. This is considered really rude in Thailand, and I still get really annoyed by that if I happen to see anyone does it.
Ages – respect whoever is older than you even if they have low education, low salary or anything less than you, you should respect them no matter what, it is considered Thai. I get really annoyed and mad sometimes when older people get disrespected from younger people just because of any reason at all.