Coping with Culture Shock

The people of Thailand had an entirely different culture. Being my first time in a new country, everything done by the Thais was strange. I knew that adopting to their cultures wouldn’t be easy. As time went by I became more familiar with the culture. My first few weeks after settling was when I began noticing the changes. I couldn’t have seen any changes in the first one month, mostly because of the excitement. To fit in, I had to try as much as possible to emulate the behaviors and everything else the Thais did. It was quite challenging.

Some of the culture shocks I experienced in Thailand

  • Time Zone Shock.

Traveling from the far west to the east took so much time. The journey was quite long, and due to the difference in time zones, I landed in Thailand nearly the same time I left home. I couldn’t keep track of time on the first day but I slowly adopted.

  • Language Barrier Shock.

The biggest problem of moving into a foreign country is the language barrier. Residing in the US for over three decades I only spoke plain English. I had never taken the initiative to enroll for a course in a new language. The little Thai I had learned online didn’t help me out. Most of the Thais spoke too fast, and I could only grasp a few words. It is hard to find someone who spoke fluent English in Thailand. As a matter of fact, only fellow foreigners from English-speaking countries such as the US and UK spoke good English. The rest of the locals spoke broken English, but at least we could understand each other. The good thing was, after enrolling at Chichester College I was so able to learn Thai. Up to date, I am still a learner, and I do take the time to grasp some new words whenever I get the chance.

  • Vehicle shock.

In Thailand most cars have a driver’s seat on the left side, this was so different from the US where driver seats are on the right side. It was funny, and I never thought I would be able to drive around Bangkok. Plus, in that country, there were no speed limits, and I often wondered if driving was safe. Nevertheless, the Thais were used to this culture and as a new member of the country I had to learn and embrace it.

  • Food shock.

As I explained in an article above on Thai cuisine, I was familiar with some Thai food. The problem was that I was used to the foods from the US. Unfortunately, in Thailand, the meals were so different and so was the ordering of meals from the restaurant. I had a hard time understanding the menus and most of the times I couldn’t even communicate effectively with the waiters.

  • Weather shock.

The weather in the US was different comparing it to Thailand. The foreign land had a tropical kind of climate. There was no snow, although I had carried many warm clothes because I thought the weather pattern was the same.

  • There is little use of Debit or Credit cards in Thai.

I was fond of using credit cards in the US. The idea of carrying money in bulk was new. I always thought that some goon was following me every time I left a bank. However, I came to realize that Thais were a good lot of people who were very genuine.

Thais have a very different culture, but I became familiar with it. Even up to date, I do see new and strange things. Luckily, I had a positive attitude and was ready to embrace the new culture.