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US CITIZENS AND RECOGNITION OF DEGREES AND WORK EXPERIENCE

Hi All,

Thanks for this great resource and for the moderator taking time to maintain.

My Brief background is as follows :

1. I am in mid 50's and am interested in relocating to Thailand.
2. I am a US Citizen.
3. My Mechanical engineering degrees are from India and have an MBA from US.
4.. Have very good work experience including working for Ford Motor Company  for ex.

Questions are :
1. Are my degrees recognized in Thailand?
2. Is my work experience valued there?
3. Will I be able to get job there. If possible I would like to work part time.
4. How are the remuneration packages in general?

I was reading some responses from past. I am really disappointed that even for volunteering one needs work permit.

Thanks,
Mike.

The good news is that being in your 50’s you qualify for a retirement visa.  The bad news is that your background probably would not qualify you for a job which Thais cannot do.  You may be disappointed but it is their country and they make the rules.  Be very careful about trying to find a way around the established rules and regulations.

Thank you very much for your reply. I have read several messages where they warn about Thai authorities. I thought Thai culture is very friendly.

From all the warnings, it appears like foreigners are second rate citizens. The knowledge and the expertise can be put to better use. This is only my view of course.

But I appreciate all the feedback.

The Thai's are friendly people. Even most government employees are helpful when it comes to dealing with different agencies. But, like anywhere, there is a segment of the authorities that are not.

Foreigners are foreigners anywhere. Unfortunately there are always those little people that have a little authority and want to show off. I have heard of similar problems in Mexico. Even in the US today with the immigration issues there are these little people who are more concerned about their power then what they are doing.

Last October I attended an all day work shop that was presented by the government in which they were soliciting input from all nationalities of foreigners. One point that was presented was that of the retiree's that have expertise and could contribute to Thailand and yet there is no provision to provide this in the country. Even as a volunteer you need a work permit and presently that involves satisfying conditions, which were just recently updated. I've heard this discussion since then at different events. Thus far it is a matter of discussion. Seemingly it has been a discussion for some time. Unfortunately this is a disservice to Thailand and the retiree's that come here.

Hi Bill,
I agree with you. It's their country and we are foreigners. Even with all restrictions, in US foreigners can contribute a lot. This blanket restriction in Thailand, is bad for Thais themselves. If we are not able to learn from others then it can rob one of opportunities they may never know existed.

My question then is, don't people feel bored? What does one do all day for years. That thought is a bit scary to me.
May be you can shed light on that.

Thanks,
Mike

Your question is an astute and classic question. One way to answer that is that you inwardly or outwardly occupy your self. Some people engage in meditation, yoga, Buddhism. You can sign up at Meetup and find some of the listings for some of these gatherings. (I think there are charlatans, even within these groups.)

The next point is social groups. There are many social groups around. One is CE.com or the Chiang Mai Expat's Club. There are a ton of small groups that have directed activities, such as art or writing or whatever. Many of these activities take place at night, but there are many activities and opportunities to socialize. If you play golf that is one activity.

One semi humorous aspect of day time activities is the Thai Way. For you as a western you may plan something only to find out that it takes all day to complete. I scheduled an oil change for my bike. The mechanic was supposed to pick up the bike at 9 am. He showed up at 2 pm, the Thai Way. Yesterday I went to immigration to get a stamp. It only took 3 hours to get the stamp, the Thai Way. You as a Farang and not knowing how to speak Thai or know the Thai way will have to spend additional time with issues that should not be time consuming. Plus when you need a particular something that can be a time consuming effort. For Farangs there is no mass media vehicle for advertising. Lots of business is word of mouth, and at times the word of mouth is not always reliable.   

Off and on I have been living in Chiang Mai. It's the second largest city in Thailand, and very affordable. Between the 30 k expat population and the resources of a city (it is also the so called IT capital of Thailand) I chose to live here. It seemed like a jewel with many facets to explore, sort of like a new toy. As time progressed the novelty of it wore off. Even so I can go out almost any day and find something to bring a smile to my face and that doesn't include all of the nice experiences I have with Thai people. Before the novelty wore off I net worked where ever I could. To some degree that has paid off. Ultimately I have to come up with what satisfies me with living here. Having a Thai "friend" becomes very helpful.

One other consideration of long term stay here is your health plan. I just attended two work shops on end of life issues. The longer one stays here the greater the chance of health issues arising, and at some point in time it becomes end of life issues. I am just bringing this up as a thought for future planning. There are resources, generally not Thai.

One other thought for digestion. What is your plan B? I just received an email within the past few days along these lines. He wished he had thought things out more clearly and now some options are not open to him. For example, he left the US and everything behind (no house, car, furniture, or anything). If he would return to the US he would start from scratch and it would be very costly to do that. I know another man who similar does not have the funds to relocate back to the states.

My first trip to Chiang Mai was five years ago. I spent almost two years researching a destination for living outside of the US. Off and on I have been living in Chiang Mai for the past two years. So I understand many consideration when looking at living here, or anywhere else in Thailand.

Your question is well taken. Many expats don't seem to exactly consider the question. There is a fair number of them who end up chasing hang overs and bar girls, both of which can become a dead end road.

There is an interesting fact about Chiang Mai. Within the past five years there has been a expat population of 30 k. These are figures from immigration. There seem to be many people who come or move here. If that is the case was is it that after five years there is no increase in the expat population? Obviously, there are just as many people who leave as there are who come here.

Just a little food for thought. The other day I was chatting with a Thai friend. I said that when living in Thailand one should look beyond the clouds to the enjoyable sunshine, even if they have to have plans to secure their own welfare.

I read an article today regarding jobs forbidden for foreigners where the Labor ministry apparently says the law is out of date and wants to do something about it, so they are aware.  The thing is, they are mainly focused on people from neighboring countries doing jobs Thais don’t really want to do anyway.  Kind of like the American situation with Mexicans.

There have always been provisions for highly skilled foreigners who bring something special to the table.  No one is interested in providing jobs to foreigners who are “lonely” or can’t afford to live in their own country.  Usually the argument that we have so much to offer the inferior Thais comes off as rather self-serving and falls on deaf ears.  Most countries don’t appreciate foreigners telling them how to fix their problems by doing things the “right” way.

In my experience the main problem with being bored comes from following orders from a boss ones whole life and then suddenly having the freedom to choose and not knowing what to do with yourself.  During the novelty phase you shouldn’t have a problem but as #billkip points out that phase does pass and you are left with this as your new normal.

You need to approach Thailand like an unfamiliar body of water where you gently dip you toe in to see how it feels.  Whatever you do, don’t just jump off the cliff not knowing how deep it is.  Many people come here for a while and then for various reasons go home or move on to another adventure so leave the door open.  Even if Thailand ends up being your place in the sun, it will change, you will change and you will go through many phases.

I haven’t worked for 23 years and can’t imagine how I would find the time to punch a clock or justify my time to someone else, but that is just me.

I would like to add a foot note, for whatever it is worth.

Some time ago I read an article by a retired psychologist, semi ironic. He was writing about the difference of men vs. women and retirement. One of his points was that men identify or internalize the identity of their work. Women seem less to do so, unless they are professional women. I've noticed both in Chiang Mai and the states, from any country, men seem to need more time to separate themselves from that work identity. From what I gather without doing so creates further isolation.

Food for thought.

Bill Kip,

Thank you for your detailed write up. Really appreciate your thoughtful response.

While I am excited about the opportunity that Thailand offers, I am worried about long term situation. Without any social support structure and completely strange, is a way to begin and discover.

But I don't want to be trading one headache for another. Thus I have to think it through so I will have a decent chance.

Your end of life issues are very pertinent. That is one thing all expats have to face without doubt.

May be I should store all my little belongings and try Thailand for sometime like an year or 6 months. See how it works out? Is this a good idea?

Regards,
Mike.

Villagefarang,

Thanks for your response. I am much like you as far as working for someone is concerned. Cannot and unable to work for someone and have them write PR every year ... ooo, no way !!! ;-)

But I would like to start a education business. Like teaching math and science to elementary and middle school kids. But that seems to be a little of a dream given Thai rules. Am I right?

Regards,
Mike.

From what I know and understand it is an excellent idea to make an exploratory trip before deciding to live here, or anywhere.

My first exploratory trip was for four weeks. I literally worked at trying to learn to live and Chiang Mai and not simply being a tourist or visitor. Believe it or not that takes some effort.

My next exploratory trip was for seven months. Prior to coming I did hook up with a Thai lady, as a friend. To put it one way I did not want to add one more complication to an already complicated adventure. After seven months and lots of exploring with and without the expat population, I found that I could live here.

My next exploratory trip was for 12 months. This time I came to Thailand on a Volunteer Work Permit visa, in contrast to a Retirement visa. Going through the process with this type of visa, essentially dealing with immigration on a monthly basis and many more things, can be very complicated and unwelcoming. (Such would be the case today in the US.) It truly can be a test of your patience and will. There are many pro's and con's posted here. It's your choice as to which view point you want to embrace.

I would suggest that if you are a certain age, perhaps any age, that you take some preliminary steps before you leave your home country. Organize yourself in a way that someone else can step in and take over your responsibilities, if need be. This would include setting up any legal documentation, such as power of attorney. Being a foreigner in Thailand means that your home country consulate is required to step and process, if a person would passes away or some other issue arises. This may seem silly but there is the slim chance that it could prove very helpful in some way, like insurance.

Enjoy,

Just a couple of random thoughts on retiring to Thailand.

Try to think of the visa process as a test or way of vetting who is suited to living in a foreign land and who is just too delicate.  If applying for a visa in the comfort of your home country is too difficult then adjusting to an entirely new country and its culture will likely strain one to the breaking point.

If you are not up for a bit of a challenge and some adventure with an adaptive personality and outlook, then look out.  Look at Thailand as I opportunity to learn, question and evaluate your long held beliefs, instead of an opportunity to bestowing superior western knowledge on the ignorant locals.  If after a few years you have learned the ropes, can speak the language and you have developed a network of good Thai friends, then maybe one can look at ways to contribute in ways Thai people might appreciate.

Yes, one very important aspect is to put aside your "superior western knowledge" and learn the ways of Thailand. Look for the sun, not the clouds. The sun is very rewarding and the clouds are a painful and annoying distraction, from your own pleasure.

I am sure everyone understands the difference between understanding and mimicking.  By understanding how the most dangerous drivers drive we can be more careful and avoid accidents.  No one is suggesting we follow the worst examples of any culture.  Too often we look at the absolute worst of a given society and generalize those behaviors to everyone.

It is not hard to understand how this happens.  We get bitten by a rabid dog, develop a phobia and label all dogs as bad.  An emotionally charged encounter has the capacity to rewire our brains in a way which is hard to undo.   We see examples of one bad experience turning people against Thailand, even here on this forum.

I am always a little put off when people state definitively that Thai people or Thai women all fit a limited negative stereotype.  If those are the kind of Thai people you have met then you need to find some new friends.  It is up to us to take responsibility for the people we choose to associate with.

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