Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Uninvited Guest

We are all uninvited guests when we arrive in a foreign country whether we are just visiting or are planning to stay a while. That is not to say "unwelcomed" but it does mean it is on us to conform to the social norms and cultural demands of a given country. One person cannot change a culture. We must bend to culture. Rest assured that no matter which country you choose to live, no matter how close it is, geographically, to your home country there will be culture differences that are both evident and not so evident.

Living in a foreign country is about acceptance. Once realizing what cultural norms we enjoy and what we don't enjoy so much, it's time to decide if we can live with and accept the things we don't enjoy so much. If we can accept the things that are less than appealing about the host country, it's a good sign that we can stay and be happy. If said factors cannot be accepted, more than likely its a good idea to leave.

When I lived in Thailand, for the first months, I was very happy. The people are friendly, the weather is great and the pay is reasonable considering it's south-east Asia. However the minor things that bothered me just a bit at first began to grow until I could no longer avoid my real feelings. The problems I had with culture were related to the lack of expressing personal opinions, true feelings and asking the question,"why"which is similar in many Asian countries. It's something I can never change about the culture but is something I need to have healthy relationships in my life. So ultimately I left for the Western world even though there will always be a special place in my heart for Thailand. Great place to visit, it just isn't the right country for me to live.