Author Topic: The five stages of culture shock for foreigners in Thailand  (Read 1585 times)

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Offline thaiga

Very interesting article from bangkok.coconuts.co. and some rings true, about the stages we go through when coming to Thailand.
The Honeymoon Stage right down to the The Adjustment Stage which some never reach.

At a recent installment of Random Thainess, an event where speakers talk about their experiences with Thai life and culture, Kasetsart University Professor Rachawit Photiyarach, broke down the five stages of culture shock in Thailand for foreigners.


The five stages of culture shock for foreigners in Thailand



Professor Rachawit, a lecturer on intercultural communications, based his talk on ideas from intercultural scholar Peter Adler.

Adler said that culture shock is an emotional reaction to loss of one’s own culture and misunderstanding of new experiences. He has said that culture shock causes feelings of helplessness, irritability, being cheated, contaminated, injured, or disregarded.

Although culture shock is usually seen negatively, it’s also a great catalyst for learning and personal growth.

You might find some of these feelings familiar. You’ve probably even said some of these lines yourself.

Stage 1: The Honeymoon Stage

Foreigners in the honeymoon stage, or in their earliest days in Thailand, find themselves a little bit starry-eyed and in love with the place.

The tangled overhead cables, the tuk-tuks weaving through the traffic and eating their first somtam on the street all seem amazing. It’s in this stage that foreigners might say: “I wish I could live here the rest of my life,” “Wow, Thai people are so kind” or “Thailand is the best country in the world.”

Stage 2: The Distress Stage

At this point, foreigners have settled into their new homes and some of the shine of the initial romance of living abroad has worn off. They may be starting to see some problems that they were able to ignore in the early days.

Foreigners in the distress stage may feel like they don’t understand or feel at-one with the locals. They may say things like: “Why can’t Thai people just tell me how they feel?” “Why is every dish so spicy?” or “ Why does mai pen rai mean so many different things?”

Stage 3: The Anger Stage

Foreigners in the third stage begin to move beyond questioning the things around them and become downright hostile. Depending on people’s resistance, they might stay in this state for years.

Expats in the anger stage might say: “Thais are so ignorant of the outside world. They should follow Western ways,” “Why don’t these people speak English and understand my culture?” or “Thai people are so dishonest, I’m always getting ripped off.”

Some foreigners might even go so far as to say, “All Thai women want my money” or “Why are there so many Thai people everywhere?”

Stage 4: The Autonomy Stage

This is the stage when foreigners finally begin to accept the cultural differences between their old home and their adopted home. They finally begin to feel at peace and, while they might not agree with everything happening around them, they feel they can understand and accept it.

Expats in the autonomy stage might say: “The more differences the better – it’s boring if everyone is the same,” “Where can I learn more about Thai culture?” or “It’s good to know the difference between my culture and Thai culture so I can make a comparison.”

Stage 5: The Adjustment and Biculturalism Stage

This final stage is one that many may never reach, but they can continue striving to become one with their adopted country. In the independence stage, a foreigner will learn to speak the local language, have local friends (that aren’t bar girls that are paid to hang out with them) and feel able to cope comfortably in both Thailand and their home country when they return to visit.

Foreigners in the independence stage might say: “I know some Thais are trying hard to understand me, so I should meet them halfway,” “I can maintain my values and also behave in culturally appropriate ways” or “The more I understand this culture, the better I can live here happily.”

Professor Rachawit offered some advice for foreigners about how to cope with cultural differences in Thailand. He said that foreigners should accept that there will always be differences and that they should learn about their new culture while not forgetting their birth culture.

Thanks to (Professor Rachawit Photiyarach)   bangkok.coconuts.co
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.
 
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Offline thaiga

Re: The five stages of culture shock for foreigners in Thailand
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2016, 02:00:21 PM »
Here's a bit more, a bit much the same as The five stages of culture shock for foreigners in Thailand.
An Intercultural guide for expats and Thais with a few Tips for expats on how to integrate into Thai society, it a longish read but worth the effort for some who may need the guidance.  Here have a read ...


Intercultural guide for expats and Thais

Tips for expats on how to integrate into Thai society by Kan
When people are able to adapt themselves to the norms of the host country, they will start to accept the differences and perform certain activities as normally practiced there. This stage is called near recovery. After a while, people will completely adapt to the new culture without referring back to the normal practice in their homeland. The people are then, experiencing the full recovery stage. However, the full recovery stage may not be the last step of social integration because it is like assimilation; the new comers fully leave their identities and adopt the culture of the host country.

Integration might be considered as a middle path for any expats or foreign residents who live in a new home country rather than forcing them to become fully Thai or assimilate into the mainstream society. In addition, there are expats who believe that living apart from expat and tourist areas might be a significant factor for any expat to be connected with the local community and help them interact more with Thai people. The increased understanding and intercultural contact between Thais and expats is essential for social integration. Memberships in expat organizations such as a chamber of commerce have some negative points because it can become a safety zone for expats where they understand and are understood Come into contact with local communities and Thais

Expats tend to integrate into Thai society when they live with local communities because it is easier for them to have an intercultural relationship with people from the host nation (self-oriented skills: the encouragement of relationships with host nationals). For the individual level, it is a better choice for both Thais and expats to learn to live with each other on the small scale, rather than in the big community Pattaya has no integration opportunity for foreigners to become a part of Thai society because of sex tourism which brings the negative images of farang among Thai people. The negative sides of segregated areas or insular communities such as enclaves and ghettoes are prevalent because stereotypes can be perpetuated by themselves and they are themselves fearful of coming in contact with other groups.

This is the major factor why if an expat aims to integrate into Thai society, he or she needs to interact with local communities. Expats should leave their comfort zone and participate in Thai society. Bangkok is filled with countless Western amenities, including English newspapers, fast-food restaurants, and Western style bars and pubs. Expats have an easier time to recreate their lifestyle which is closer to their home. Most expats still live a more Western life style and their social circles are made up of other farang expats. Intercultural places or mixed communities where people from different backgrounds, including Westerners, Thais and other nationalities can come to interact and socialize with each other should be created and encouraged more in the future, not only in the international areas in order to help Thais and expats form deep relationships with each other rather than knowing only one another superficially. If various groups feel familiar with each other, the cultural, social and ethnic tension can decrease.

Be bicultural rather than assimilated
When an individual places a value on holding on to their original culture, and at the same time avoids interaction with others, then separation is defined. When there is an interest in both keeping one’s original culture and interacting with other social groups, integration is determined. When diversity is encouraged and different people are a widely accepted feature of the society as a whole, then integration is called multiculturalism. Integration will take place when the newcomers participate in the host culture, while still retaining their cultures. This is an important issue that many expats should understand, that integration is not about leaving your own cultural background and fully become a member of Thai society, but being open-minded to your new home country, culture and people. Nowadays, there is an increasing number of Thais who are tolerant and accept foreigners and foreign cultures. These Thais are ready to become friends with expats. Most expats still live a more Western life style and their social circles are made up of other farang expats. Alternatively, an expat who truly integrates into Thai society tends to be satisfied with living in their home country as in Thailand. This is due to the fact that they can adjust to Thai culture while still maintaining some important parts of their original cultural background.

Third culture kid as a role model of integration for expats
A perfect example of people who have bi-cultural or multicultural identities is third culture kids. A third culture kid (TCK) is someone who has grown up in different cultures other than his or her own, but can relate to all cultures. A TCK tends to see both positive and negative sides of each culture from their intercultural experiences and he or she can constructively form their culture and comfortably move in and out of different cultural world views. A Third culture kid is a real multicultural person who sees the world with various eyes. To understand identities of TCK helps us understand how we can cope with and are tolerant of diversity that being open-minded to both the home and new host cultures can help him see both positive and negative sides of each one rather than only adhering to one single identity. A well-adjusted person is likely to perceive each culture as neither positive nor negative, but it is just different depending on the society. For instance, an American person who returns to the USA after living in Thailand for 10 years can see both positive and negative sides of Thai and American cultures. He or she can form his or her own identity smoothly and socialize with people from different backgrounds without being judgmental and stereotypical to other cultures (self-oriented skills). David Lyman, one of the most famous long- term American expats in Bangkok once gave a beneficial suggestion to other fellow expats that:

You do not attempt to be Thai because you will never be. Do not go around riding bicycles and wearing flip-flops. Be who you are and you will be accepted by the Thais. Try to adjust to Thai culture, but do not go native. Be the best American you can be and bring that to Thailand (Algle et al. 2014, 222). The cultural identity crisis can be solved when we adjust ourselves to differences. More interestingly, Integration is the last stage where people are marginalized to any culture. People in this stage already have multicultural worldviews and multiple identities. They are flexible to move in and out of different cultures. Most people in this stage have a sense of being a multicultural person.

To conclude,
The positive relationship and mutual understanding between Thais and expats is an essential part of social integration. The mutual adjustment and respect here should be from both sides or it means everyone attempts to adapt to everyone else.

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Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.
 

Offline Baby Farts

Re: The five stages of culture shock for foreigners in Thailand
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2016, 07:28:09 PM »
Great article, thaiga, and thanks for posting this.  There is a lot of good information here.  However, I disagree about the part suggesting to be bi-cultural. I'm an American, not a Thai, and he states that you'll never be Thai...therefore, why should I be Bi-Cultural? it makes no sense.  Besides, are THEY willing to be bi-cultural too?.....especially if a Thai is married to a Foreigner, or does my culture take a back seat and their culture takes precedence over mine?  If they want continuity then BOTH should learn and understand each others cultures. I can and will respect the culture, but I would never adapt it as my everyday way of life because it would compromise my integrity.  Sure, I can go along with the Wais, not touching people on the head, smiling, not raising my voice when a Thai prick does something stupid, etc. 

I think the writer doesn't understand the difference between, true Thai culture, and, "Thainess," which is brainwashed into the people since birth.   They are two completely different entities.  Also, suggesting that expats leave their ,"comfort," zone is a joke.  What comfort zone?  The minute you arrive here, you're out of your comfort zone automatically.  It's the THAIS that need to abandon THEIR comfort zone in order to get a better perspective on foreigners. That never happens unless they leave the country and live abroad. 
 
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Offline thaiga

Re: The five stages of culture shock for foreigners in Thailand
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2016, 08:50:29 PM »
Good reply B/F, Yes when thai's have lived abroad they get a better picture of whats going on.

To be honest with you i got a bit bored with the profs post after getting only half way through it. BUT ... it's slo news day today, even t/v is offline till monday.

Cheers  :cheers
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.
 
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Offline Baby Farts

Re: The five stages of culture shock for foreigners in Thailand
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2016, 09:41:08 PM »
It's a great post, thaiga, and again, thank you for sharing it with the forum.  I love reading stuff like this and I always enjoy reading your posts. Again, I think people tend to confuse culture with "Thainess."  When I think of culture, I think of many things like, religion, arts, customs, food, clothing, etc...the list goes on. Still, I can't see any of it as a shock except for the Sin-Sod thing where the man has to PAY to take on the financial responsibility of his wife and her entire family.

The only other shock I can think of is when some dumb-ass takes back to his hotel, what appears to be a woman, only to find out when he reaches down to grab its foo foo, there's a hotdog there instead a pussy.  You know what I mean?  Then again, some weirdo expats in Thailand like that sort of thing so maybe for them it's more of a blessing than a shock. lol.
 
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Offline thaiga

Re: The five stages of culture shock for foreigners in Thailand
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2016, 01:49:57 AM »
Thankyou B/F.

Talking of wierdo expats, there are some pretty dumb ones as well, according to an article on stickmanbangkok's site. Here's just a short extract By Mega, titled,
  The Ides of the Blind in Thailand.

Most farang men interacting with Thai prostitutes are completely clueless

If you looking for real love, it will not be found in the prostitution alleyways along Sukhumvit Road, there’s only lust on offer there.
they are “working,” they are “doing it for the money,” and you are their “next customer.”  If you want talk time, go to a psychiatrist - If you want paid for sex, get a prostitute.

Many of us who come to this site have had our Madame X’s. A few years ago I had mine. Her name was Ning. The Ning’s and Madame X’s of this world all have one thing in common: they are pathological liars. It goes with their “game” of course, but they are whores so what else should one expect. And their game is always the same; deceit, manipulation and maximizing any situation to their advantage, or profit. Their words of love are hollow, grossly so. To the unwise, the unwitting and the foolish, lust is mistaken as love.

The blind folly of the lonely and the love-starved looking for love in all the wrong places in this country is maximized by the Ning’s and Madame X’s of this world as they use their game to manipulate those mistaking lust for love. But love it most certainly is not. Real love is about respect, trust, honesty and consideration of another. It is not about shaking one’s booty in a gogo bar or offering one’s body for sale on lower Sukhumvit, or fxxxing multiples of guys while you are working your backside off, back in your own country, to pay your darling for your love.

Take it as a given real love will not be found in the prostitution alleyways along Sukhumvit Road, there’s only lust on offer there. The next time you venture down to Nana Plaza, Soi Cowboy, Walking Street, or Soi Bangla, listen closely to the words of the new Madame X’s or Ning’s you are talking with. To their credit they are rather forthright ladies and will probably inform you clearly
they are “working,” they are “doing it for the money,” and you are their “next customer.” They are not there for love
Their business is the business of lust for sale, and nothing more. Your misunderstanding of what they’re doing there is your misunderstanding, and not theirs.

To be honest, I find most farang men interacting with Thai prostitutes are completely clueless. Many have no idea what it is they actually want, or why they are trawling the red light sois. Most Thai men don’t have the same level of confusion when it comes to using the services of a prostitute. Ladies they pay to have sex with aren’t the ones they take home to meet the family. Let’s call a spade a spade. The ladies working in the red light sois of this country are prostitutes and their primary purpose for “working” is to make some cash by doing a short or long time. Unless you are plying them with drinks, they aren’t going to hang out with you for too long if they figure you’re not going to bar-fine them.

For me, this is a clearly defined situation and unless I’m in the mood for some horizontal folk dancing I normally don’t step through the purple curtains. When I do, I’m never there for longer than one hour before walking out with whichever number takes my fancy. I’m certainly never there for some ill-defined reason. The bottom line is I’m the customer and they’re the sex worker I’m paying to satisfy me. Anything else beyond this situation is a pure fantasy going on inside the punter's head. Let me say this again;
the ladies working the prostitution sois of Thailand are not there for love, they’re there to make money.

There seems to be a lot of foreigners coming to Thailand who really don’t have a grasp of this reality. Perhaps it’s something in the water but so many seem to think Thai prostitutes are something other than sex workers. We’ve even had reports on this site of punters paying escorts large sums of money for talk time. Little wonder the majority of Thai hookers consider foreigners to be fools. If you want talk time, go to a psychiatrist. If you want paid for sex, get a prostitute. It’s that simple.

Thai prostitutes - or any Asian prostitute for that matter - are experts at creating the illusion of the submissive, compliant sex toy. These wily little charmers will have the naive and the guileless jumping through their hoops in no time at all if they’re given the leeway to do so. And while it may well be they are submissive and compliant, the reality is they’re also tough minded little cookies whose primary focus is the money coming out of your pockets. The fact they’ve got families back on the rice farms relying on them for money every month make it so.

The insecurity, or the need to be wanted or liked, is at the very heart of the reason many guys want to please the prostitute they are hiring for the night. To be honest, I’ve never understood this. If I’m the customer, I’m paying the money so it’s the prostitute’s job to satisfy me and not the other way round. If the prostitute I’m hiring doesn’t climax, I couldn’t care less. I’m not her husband or boyfriend, I’m just the customer. I actually think one of the major reasons so many Thai hookers these days are poor at their jobs or downright lazy is they’ve gotten used to all the idiot punters who think the prostitute they’re hiring is someone they can have a meaningful experience with.

That she’s some kind of instant pseudo girlfriend you can develop some feeling with. She isn’t and you won’t. Get it into your head that you’re the customer with the cash and she’s the sex worker whose job is to satisfy you. If you want a real girlfriend, it’s not going to happen by paying for it. And that’s really the bottom line with all this nonsense of guys getting into a pickle with a Thai prostitute. A real girlfriend doesn’t need to be paid a monthly stipend. It's only the whores who expect that. If you’re paying for loyalty it’s a business arrangement, not a relationship.

If you ain't had enough and you want more :-[ it's all here stickmanbangkok.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.
 
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Offline Baby Farts

Re: The five stages of culture shock for foreigners in Thailand
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2016, 06:29:44 AM »
I've actually read that before, but thanks for posting it here.  He is spot on, and knows what's going on.  Another thing to consider are the girls who don't whore in the bars, but are regular class working girls with a good job.  You hook up and marry one of those and chances are you'll spend a shit load of money on them as well....many times, more than what you would end up paying a whore.  At least with the whore, (if you're smart enough and don't fall in love), you know where you stand.  However, more often than not, there really isn't that much of a difference between a whore and a girlfriend in Thailand.  Either way, you're going to get sucked for money. lol  It's a pussy with a cash register attached to it.
 
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Offline thaiga

Re: The five stages of culture shock for foreigners in Thailand
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2016, 11:49:48 AM »
Either way, you're going to get sucked for money
He! He!
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.
 
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Offline Baby Farts

Re: The five stages of culture shock for foreigners in Thailand
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2016, 09:23:25 PM »
 :lol :lol :lol :lol :lol  Classic, Thaiga!
 

Offline captcraig2

Re: The five stages of culture shock for foreigners in Thailand
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2016, 02:54:17 PM »
I mostly agree however I do know of more than just a few village girls who have gone to Pattaya or Bangkok in search of a farang husband. Sure the money has an advantage but their main goal was to find a farang mate and daddy to their Thai children.

I have found that there is a large number of Thai guys who will not or do not want any part of being a family man. Many Thai men have no concern with working a regular job or taking care of a wife and children.
 
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Offline Baby Farts

Re: The five stages of culture shock for foreigners in Thailand
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2016, 03:16:40 PM »
I mostly agree however I do know of more than just a few village girls who have gone to Pattaya or Bangkok in search of a farang husband. Sure the money has an advantage but their main goal was to find a farang mate and daddy to their Thai children.

I have found that there is a large number of Thai guys who will not or do not want any part of being a family man. Many Thai men have no concern with working a regular job or taking care of a wife and children.

Spot on CC2 and so true.  Once they dip their pecker and the girl squeezes out a puppy or two, they do a runner.
 

Offline thaiga

Re: Thai way of doing things is to know your place
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2016, 04:10:52 PM »
Here's more  ::)  from the Kasetsart University Professor, Rachawit Photiyarach, Thanks to bangkok.coconuts.co. it's a bit of a long article, so here's part one

5 common miscommunications between foreigners and Thais  pt.1.


All original illustrations: Praew Tansanga

Thais and foreigners communicate really differently. Even if they’re speaking the same language, there's still lots of room for awkward miscommunication at work and at play.

We talked to Kasetsart University Professor Rachawit Photiyarach, who explained the five most common miscommunications between foreigners and Thais. From foreigners that think everyone at work wants to hear their opinions to that one Thai friend that wears blackface to the costume party. We’ll explain it all to you.

You might find yourself nodding your head at some of these scenarios. Maybe all of them.

Hierarchy (Thai) vs. Equality (Western)



Scenario 1: A fresh-off-the-plane foreigner starts an exciting job at a Thai company. He’s been studying some reports, reading the founder’s personal blog and can’t wait to tell his new boss all the ways the company could improve. He’s sure they’re gonna become the best of friends. However, after he spouts his ideas on the first day, he gets the cold shoulder. Now, even the Yakult lady won’t make eye contact with him.

Here’s what went wrong:

In the West, everyone’s voice matters, everyone’s opinion counts and even the most junior of employees can tell the boss he’s wrong. That’s not the case in Thai culture. Here, the boss is rarely questioned and what he or she wants is just accepted without question.

For Thais, being humble is more desirable than being right or finding a great solution. For your Thai friends, age, rank and social status must be taken into account when deciding whether or not they should say what’s on their minds. The Thai way of doing things is to know your place. This is a situation where tensions and miscommunications often arise between Thais and foreigners. Thais end up thinking foreigners don’t know their place and foreigners feel like Thais are lazy and complacent when they don’t “catch” mistakes.

Implicit (Thai) vs. Explicit (Western) Communication



Scenario 2: “Yo Chanchai! You’re late to lunch buddy, you look hungry. But do you mind if I grab the last pork skewer?” asked Dave. “Please have it,” said Chanchai, even though he wasn’t sure Dave could hear him over the sound of his rumbling, empty stomach. Dave eats the skewer in one mouthful and walks away thinking what a great dude Chanchai is.

Chanchai hates Dave with all of his soul.

Here’s what went wrong:

Foreigners are taught low-context communication, so this is how they talk. They say what they mean and mean what they say. If they say “I don’t want the pork,” they don’t want it. If they wanted it, they probably would have taken it before you even asked.

They specialize in simple, straightforward conversation with little subtext and expect the same from others. Thais, on the other hand, use high-context communication. Whatever they say, there is subtleness that foreigners don’t often pick up on. For example, when a Thai friend asks if you’ve eaten, as they often will, they are asking much more than a question about lunch. They’re asking about your day, your health, your appetite and your plans. They’re showing that they care about you.

The trouble starts when foreigners expect their Thai friends to simply say what’s on their mind and communicate in Western ways. Thais often get offended when their foreign friends don’t follow the communication rules. Foreigners are left scratching their head as their Thai acquaintance walks away, embarrassed by, what they consider, an unpleasant interaction.

To be continued ...
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.
 

 



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