living in Thailand as a foreigner, looking back on ten years

A recent anniversary and talking about Thai culture on Quora started me thinking about what I've experienced over ten years in living in Bangkok (from the US).

None of it would be all that novel for other expats.  People are kind of similar everywhere, but little differences add up.  One part touches on why some expats become bitter after awhile but that's already familiar ground for foreigners living here.

Moderated by Priscilla 9 months ago
Reason : please register your blog in the blogs directory
We invite you to read the forum code of conduct

I am not terribly nostalgic and I have been here, longer than I was there, so it is hard for me to make comparisons.  Occasionally something will flick a switch and send me down memory lane bringing up things I haven’t thought about for decades but I never really think in terms of  ‘us and them’ or ‘here versus there’.  I have no real interest in trying to change this place or the people I meet here by trying to make them like some other place.  I figure you learn, make the best choices you can and take responsibility for the outcome.  So many people seem to be professional victims, come here screw up and blame everything on someone else.

Makes sense.  One theme I tried to bring across is that no particular degree of integrating into Thai society is right or wrong.  Someone could live relatively entirely outside of Thai culture as a foreigner here and if they were ok with that it would be fine.  They'd never move past an "us versus them" positioning to much degree at all but they also wouldn't necessarily be blaming anyone for anything.  Or relatively fully integrating would be good; learning the language, eating the food, working in a Thai company or owning a business, having local friends, taking up Buddhism as a religion, etc.  Or any mix.

Those things often tend to be presented as a clear opposition, that it's one way or the other.  I know expats here who work in Western companies and have circles of foreign friends and they seem to be fine.  One friend describes himself as an introvert and sets plenty of limitations on social contact in general, and that seems to work for him.  Some split their time here and "back home."  Of course the theme of the bitter expat who resents local culture, for whatever reasons, does come up too, including on this forum. 

Someone having mixed feelings but making peace with pros and cons also doesn't seem particularly out of bounds.  It's funny how people sometimes want to put a front on things and want their decision to live in a foreign country to come across as entirely positive, as the best decision they've ever made.  I see it as mixed.  My current work position also involves some trade-offs, and not everything is perfect about my marriage.  Life can be like that.  My kids:  100% positive.  At least one thing is working out perfectly.  But the teen years are coming up.

That’s very interesting as one of the 100% positive things in my life is never having had kids.

I can also see why the experience definitely wouldn't be a positive one for everyone.  The restrictions and life changes are a bit intense.  Liking kids in general really might not inform how one would react to all that, and it might well tie to how the set of circumstances as a whole play out. 

Beyond all that it seems like people experience meaning somewhat organically.  After having kids they might mean a lot to someone, but it's not as if the same corresponding gap in meaning would've existed if they didn't have them (unless they somehow picked up that expectation).  Their overall self-definition would just be different.  Some people would probably find out having kids isn't all that suitable for them after having them, if adjusting didn't go well, which wouldn't be good.

I completely agree with Villagefarang.

You can't change Thailand - looks like you'll have to change yourself.

Relax go with it.

I would prefer that Thais were better drivers - because I hate to see people I like being killed and injured needlessly through poor training  and enforcement. But it is their country and I came here because I wanted to.
I am not here to teach them anything, I am here to learn.

My Thai wife and I try to have the best of both cultures - so far that has worked pretty well.

New topic