Interview: Thai Women Living Abroad

Thai Women Living Abroad: What’s it all about and how did it start? I did my best to answer a few of these questions and more in a recent interview I did on the Big Sister website. A big thanks to all at Big Sister. The interview has been translated into English.

4 สิ่งที่ผู้หญิงไทยควรพิจารณาก่อนตามหัวใจ “ไปใช้ชีวิตที่ต่างประเทศ” (โดยคุณ Trevor Bide จาก Thai Women Living Abroad)

Please introduce yourself. Who is Trevor, which country do you live in, What do you like to do and what is your work?

Hi, My name is Trevor Bide. I’m from England and a couple of years ago I started a blog called Thai Women Living Abroad. My interests are too many to mention, but they include travel, reading, learning, exercising and following Manchester United Football Club. My work is very varied. At the age of 22 years old I told myself I would never work for anyone again and I have been self-employed since. I have a few business interests of which one is a Thai food business in England.

What is your relationship with Thailand and what is the reason that you try to help Thai women?

My relationship with Thailand started back in November 1984, but it was at the end of a work my way around the world trip. It didn’t mean that I called on every country around the world, it just mean’t that I travelled around the world. Previous to this, I’d worked my way up the ladder for a company in England after putting in great effort and lots of overtime. The daily monotony left me feeling very unfulfilled in life so I handed in my notice and decided to work my way around the world with a friend. When I think about it now, we were slightly crazy as we left with only a small amount of money and no idea of where we would be staying. We left with a list of countries of which some we stayed in a lot longer than others. The countries that we stayed in the longest were those where we were able to work. Canada, USA, Tahiti, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand were a few of the places that we made home for a while. Work was basically whatever you could find. Of all the places that I went to, Thailand was the place that felt like my spiritual home. I returned to England, but I never really settled. I missed Thailand and I found England very dull and boring by comparison. I craved sunshine and Thai culture and returned to Thailand within 6 months. I had found my spiritual home. I have been in and out of Thailand ever since.

The reason that I try and provide information for Thai women moving abroad or thinking of moving abroad is firstly, it’s quite by accident. I was working on a Thailand travel and food blog at the time and I asked a Thai lady who came from Ubon about life in Ubon Ratchathani. She said, ” I haven’t lived there for a very long time, but I can tell you about my life in Venice, Italy. I went away and put together some questions and Panatda kindly answered them all. I loved reading her tales about the cultural differences between Thailand and Italy. Khun Panatda in Venice, Italy was my first guest, but where would my next guest come from. Changes have since been made. To start with I called it Thai people living abroad, but unfortunately I couldn’t get any Thai men to talk to me about life abroad. I decided to name it Thai women living abroad. The next change was to turn the majority of the posts into Thai language only. Posts in English gave some idiots an opportunity to leave comments in English that I totally disliked. I stopped that almost instantly by deciding to make the majority of the blog in Thai language only. The posts would be from Thai people and for Thai people. It’s now a community with a lot of experiences, opinions and practical advice for living abroad. It’s best to forget that an Englishman runs it. My guests are the real hero’s. They have had the experiences and I’m grateful that they allow me to ask them about their lives abroad. Moving abroad to live is a big decision to take so hopefully those doing it will find the blog beneficial. I’ve had some lovely emails to say that the information is very beneficial. That’s very satisfying. The information is of course intended to help Thai men moving abroad as well. There may be some specific based women information, but a lot of the information is general information.

What is Thai women living abroad set up for? And how can Thai women abroad benefit from this platform?

Like I previously said, it was kind of an accident, but since then the idea has evolved. I realised there was quite a bit of information about foreigners telling their stories about moving to Thailand to live, it was quite well documented. I thought what if I turned this around and found out what it’s like for Thai people leaving Thailand and starting a new life abroad.To start with I was more interested in the cultural differences that my guests found when moving to another country. As time progressed, I wanted to know whether the ladies found similar problems on moving abroad or whether there were just similar problems on moving to a specific country. I kept coming back to the word experience. Those who have experienced moving abroad, could give an inside view to those that are moving abroad or perhaps are thinking of moving abroad.

I’ve tried to cover as many questions as possible relating to my guests experiences about life abroad. We go into living abroad and cultural differences found in the beginning of life abroad. Guests talk about the types of work that might be available to Thai people. They give tips on how they go about learning the language. We touch on cross-cultural relationships, adjustment to a new country and some of the characteristics of the host country. We touch on food, that’s food of the host country and where to find Thai food / ingredients as well. Very important to a Thai person is finding good Thai food and Thai ingredients. One of my favourite questions is asking my guest their advice for those moving or thinking of moving abroad. There have been some fantastic from the heart answers. I hope that there is something for everyone here. We learn a lot from our own experiences, but we can also gain valuable insight from the experiences of others.

There are many Thai women that dream of a new life abroad. In order to find a better life than in Thailand. Do you think that is always true?

I suppose it comes down to how you define what a better life is. I think most people always look for improvement in their lives, but for that I think you have to start with self improvement. I would say that investing time in making yourself better should be the main priority. More skills, learning how to deal with problems, and making important decisions. For a better life you have to know what exactly it is that you want in the first place.

A better life should always be from your heart and about what you want, and that takes plenty of thinking about. So many people look at other people and compare their own lives to those of others. Don’t compare yourself to others ask your heart what you truly want a better life to be. It’s where the answers are. I personally don’t look at life and ask what can I have. I think life rewards us when we ask – what can I become. So, I would say focus on developing yourself as the main priority.

For Thai women that move abroad, I have to say that they seem to adjust very well. I know this from Thai women that I come across in the UK and from the interviews I’ve done. I find the Thai women that I meet are always willing to work and have a great little network going between them. They let each other know where available positions might be. Of course, it’s not always true that you’ll find a better life outside of Thailand. Sayings like ” The grass is not always greener on the other side ” and ” All that glitters is not gold, ” come to mind. In Thailand, you know the language, and you know exactly how things work. When moving abroad it’s like starting all over again. It’s a big project. I know a Thai lady that moved from Bangkok to the countryside in the south west of England. The nearest town to her was 12 kilometres away, and there were no nearby shops or neighbours. The husband worked all day and she couldn’t drive. She became very lonely and homesick. Eventually the marriage failed. It was a long way from coming out of her door in Soi Ari, Bangkok and grabbing some street food or picking up something at the 7 – 11. Loneliness can become a massive problem.

Finally, is there some thing that you’d like to tell Thai women to take in to consideration regarding living abroad

1) Communicate: Communication is one of the most important things. Let your partner know if something is troubling you or if you have a problem with something. Don’t let things stay in the mind. Get things out in the open early and talk about them.

2) If possible, take a visit or even two visits to the country that you’re possibly moving to. Spend some time there and with your possible future partner. A good length of time will give you a chance to know the country, the area, future partner and future partners family. Further more, you will be able to ease yourself into adjusting to a new country instead of jumping straight in at the deep end.

3) A massive situation can be the subject of sending money home to Thailand. This is something massively important to Thai people and a shock to a lot of foreigners. It can cause big problems to the relationship. The only advice I would give is sort it out early in the relationship. Only the two people involved can sort it out. Find a way to deal with it that’s fair for both of you and that you both agree to. Sort it out though or it can break relationships.

4) What happens if it doesn’t work out? If it doesn’t work out like you have planned and you’ve given it your best, don’t be afraid to return to Thailand. .It’s not failure, you gave it your best and you are richer for the experience of having lived in a foreign country. Good luck.

 

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