- By CIBA International Program
- Posted October 7, 2015
The differences in all aspects of life when living in Thailand
by Mr. Withawat Thaokhamlue (Mark)
On 29th September 2015, a group of DPUIC students had a great opportunity to visit the Amari Boulevard Hotel to attend a talk on cultural differences. The speaker kindly shared his experiences and perspectives to DPUIC students. Mark, an IBEC student gave us a reflection.
At some point or another during the Syria Civil War, which is an ongoing armed conflict that began in the spring of 2011, an employee of Amari Boulevard, Mr. Muhammad, decided to move to Bangkok, Thailand in 2013. Facing differences in culture, to start a new life in another country was not easy for a foreigner like him.
“This is not an environment that I want to live in because everything here is totally different” said Mr. Muhammad. I was immediately shocked by his words and my mind suddenly went to the question “why?” First, the most different and difficult thing for him is the language. He got upset many times when he tried to communicate with Thai people in English. Second, sexuality in Thailand is varied such as straight, bisexual, and homosexual. In contrast, for Syria, where the religion (Islam) has played many significant roles in his life, being homosexual is illegal and is punished by up to 3 year’s imprisonment. At first at work, he felt happy to have a Thai friend who was a bell boy. Their relationship went very well, but later on, he found out that his friend is gay so he tried to step out of the relationship. After a few weeks, he started to observe that Thai people are not concerned about having gay friends because homosexuality in Thailand has become accepted. The third one is food. Thai people eat all kinds of food for their breakfast and every meal always includes rice, but Syrians usually eat yogurt, olives, eggplant, and jam for breakfast and pita bread is always served at every meal. The pavement is full of small restaurants. He said “it is very weird to sit and eat at a table on the pavement with strangers walking past you” In his country, on the pavement, fruit, sweets, and drinks are usually found. However, after not so long, he gave it a try to eat some food on the pavement and he found that Thai food is colorful and eye-catching and the taste is really good. Fourth, the greeting in Thailand is to Wai. Women and men can greet each other anywhere whereas Syrian men and women would not greet each other in public, and men greet each other with a handshake and a kiss on each cheek. Fifth, fashionable clothes in Thailand appear in a variety of colors. However, Syrians prefer to wear conservative clothes and avoid bright colors. Women have to wear a hijab in public. This caused problem between him and his Thai girlfriend because Thai women can wear whatever they desire, but for him, seeing his girlfriend wearing sexy clothes is not something that he is used to. Talking about his Thai girlfriend, this is a big change in his life because he wants to marry her, but his girlfriend is Buddhist. Islamic men are supposed to marry Islamic women because it is religious and easier to understand each other. Moreover, Islamic women and men cannot live together before their marriage because Syrians believe that reputation, honor, and dignity are everything. In fact, if a person loses these things, they are ruined in the eyes of their family and community. Nevertheless, it seems like Mr. Muhammad has already got Thai influence as they are now living together. After a few months, Mr. Muhammad changed his mind about Thailand. Every different thing that he has seen became parts of his life. He has gained a lot of experience for example, he got a haircut by a women which is prohibited in Syria. He had a chance take part in the Songkran festival, and he dressed colorfully. He said “My life is easier in Thailand” 7-11 is one of his favorite places in Thailand because he can get everything done. For instance, utilities and credit card bills can be paid; food and drink can be found 24 hours a day. He feels that Thailand is his home.
Up until the present, Mr. Muhammad has been living in Thailand for more than 2 years. He said “The way to be a part of another culture is to understand them first” Now I believe that if you want to be understood by someone you must be tolerant to different opinions and be sensitive to different cultures. Everything can be changed if you try hard enough.
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