So, what is life like when you’ve left your native land and begun cultural acclimatizing in a new place? Instead of writing something deep and pithy, here are shallow reflections on new elements in my life:
This should start with an apology to my mother, who worked really hard to teach me how to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Mom, I’m sorry. I remember everything you’ve taught me, but 711 is a mecca of junk food with flavors unknown to the Western world. And given that reading stylized Thai is still difficult, I’m a total sucker for packaging. I mean, look at these:
This tin looked so cool and smooth that I thought, man, maybe these breath mints might make me hip like a saxophone player. But then the mints were herbal and gross.
Lime lemon soda. I was slightly addicted for a while.
Bugles are still alive and well in Thailand.
Did not try these for obvious reasons.
Prior to Bangkok, I’d consider myself a below average sweater. Not profuse, probably less than other people, typically. Lo and behold, I am not suffering the slums – instead, I have a free spa treatment everyday that clears out my pores. Welcome to the tropics.
God’s gift in tropical climates for rain AND shine. Sudden downpour? Ready. UV index of 12 mid-day with skin-blistering sunshine? Bless the Lord for his synthetic fabric protection.
Living alone makes you a weirdo.
Always had a roommate? Always lived with someone? Then living alone is untested ground for all the weirdo bad habits you’ve never had the space to explore. Living alone might be the hardest aspect of life in Thailand for a woman who even had a roommate in the womb. Thus far, I’ve discovered the freedom of neurotic cleanliness (clean all the things! All the time!) and the disgustingness of drinking straight from large containers. Am I ashamed of these habits? Only when visitors come over and I realize mid-pour I’ve drank straight from this carton and every other carton in my fridge.
Plastic water bottles
Perhaps another apology is in order. Dear Earth, I am sorry that I replaced my busted aluminum water bottle with a glass one that is heavy and that I am too lazy to carry. I am sorry that I use plastic water bottles that are slowly destroying you.
I wish I could explain these neon animal decorations. I can’t. But the mall is a hub of commercialism, McDonald’s, and aircon, conveniently located a 5-minute walk away from our office. I have been to the mall more often in Thailand than all my teenage years combined. Malls are hip places to hang out – one of the biggest in Thailand, Terminal 21, is themed as a major city on each floor, with decadent bathrooms to match (I recommend Old Tokyo and Turkey, fyi).
8 year old me would be super jealous of the digital ability to send stickers to any of my facebook friends at any time. Am I a grown adult? Yes. Do I regularly send stickers as responses to questions or conversations over facebook. Well…
On average, my siblings and I ate fast food twice a week when we were growing up. In college I discovered that fast food consumption was shameful, etc. etc. so I quickly swore off the evil mega-corporate death meals. Fast (food) forward to living overseas and not being so rigidly dogmatic, and all of a sudden, McDonalds has become oddly appealing. French fries and American ketchup…
Chocolate doesn’t really fit in the Thai palate, so my chocolate consumption has dropped from “-aholic” levels to infrequent treat.
My teammates, not Thailand, are responsible for the repeated exposure and eventual love for TSwift’s 1989 album. Justine, you can thank them later.
A little barf never hurt anyone
Food poisoning / “broken stomach” is par for the course in a land of delicious spicy food. A 20+ year strong aversion to vomiting has been swiftly disarmed. I’ve now learned that a little barf never hurt anyone and might even make you feel better.
Yeah. I’m not sure how I’ll survive in the US. I had to leave a coffee shop because I was cold in 25* C with a sweater.
Hang drying all my clothes has lead to strangely stretched-out necklines, meaning all my shirts are becoming immodestly low cut. I swear I am not trying to be inappropriate!