Sometimes it feels as if I was born again. New sights, sounds, and tastes are impossible to avoid when I leave the comforts of my small concrete home. Even the simplest things in life have become a demanding task that might only end up in confused stares and an awkward laugh. The words “quick” and “easy” are no longer used in sentences describing any activities that occur outside of my home. Every action, no matter how big or small, requires thought and effort to carefully choose the way that I communicate so that the other person understands my needs.
The dictionary’s definition of culture shock is, “the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.” Before I left for Thailand, I thought that culture shock was a feeling that someone initially felt when first introduced to a new culture in a foreign country. Now that I am here, I have realized that culture shock is not a one time occurrence, yet it is an ongoing experience . Every second of every day is a new experience that is overwhelming at times due to constant over stimulation.
In the United States, almost every interaction between people is done without much effort or thought. It is easy to become complacent and forget to appreciate being able to connect with everyone around us. I am surrounded by so many amazing people here in Thailand, but I am unable to communicate with them, which has become the hardest parts of transitioning thus far. Even though my Thai vocabulary is very basic, I am putting the time and effort into learning everything I can about the language and culture so that I can form lasting relationships with locals.
I am slowly starting to transition to the Thai way of life, and I am beyond blessed to have this amazing, yet exhausting experience abroad. All of the difficulties that I experience due to the language barrier are constantly forgotten when I am warmly greeted by locals with a famous Thai smile. I could not be more tired or overwhelmed, but I could not be happier.