During my time teaching in Thailand, I had helped students with projects about Global Culture. This has led me to think about my own experiences with becoming accustomed to Thailand’s culture and overcoming culture shock at the beginning of my journey.
When I was getting ready to come to Thailand, I did not give culture shock much thought. Naively, I did not think assimilating into a whole new culture would affect me too much. Spoiler alert: I was wrong. The four stages of culture shock (the honeymoon phase, the frustration phase, adjustment, and acceptance) could not be more accurate and relevant. There were times where I was overwhelmed with Thailand’s beauty and could not be more grateful to be here. There were other times where I was counting down the days because I felt very homesick. At a certain point in the journey, you get the hang of things and learn how to make the best of your time here.
During the Global Culture projects I mentioned before, students interviewed me on my definition and opinion of global culture, as well as asked me questions about culture in America. I told them America is a melting pot because it is a fusion of many different cultures and few things are uniquely American. They asked if I thought global culture was positive or negative; I told them I considered it to be positive for the most part because learning about different cultures allows us to be more accepting. It can also bring benefits, as it can allow for positive impacts on things like education, trade, technology, etc. The concern about globalization is that it can negatively impact local cultures and displace individuality. I think important traditions of a local culture can remain intact despite globalization, but it is important to regard both perspectives.
Anyways, I came to Thailand to learn and immerse myself in a new culture. In situations like this, it is important to be mindful. The locals will not be the ones to accustom themselves to our culture or way of life. As travelers, that is our own responsibility. Being aware of local customs when traveling is a good first step in avoiding awkward situations. Global culture exposes us to new ideas, allowing us to better understand the lives of people from different places around the world. Before traveling to a new area, do some research!