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What I learned on My Trip to Thailand

Some reflections after my solo three week trip to Thailand

What I learned on My Trip to Thailand
Katherine Pasutto

My first full week home from my trip to Thailand has given me time to reflect on what I learned and observed while being abroad. This first thing I noticed was how tourists, American's in particular, treated the Thai people. They would get angry or talk to Thai people disrespectfully as soon as a Thai person didn't understand their English. It also would be followed by a laugh or some snide comment about their intelligence. First things first, Thai people are not stupid. Just because they don't speak English fluently doesn't mean they are not intelligent. Secondly, as a tourist, you need to understand you are visiting someone else's country. You should be learning, at the very least, the most basic Thai words. It doesn't matter if they say "Hello" to you in English first, answer with "Sah wa dee ka" (for girls) back. This small gesture is greatly appreciated.

Secondly, I learned that it is necessary to learn Thai culture and be respectful. Many tourists act as though they haven't left America, and therefore make no effort to dive into the culture. Everywhere I stayed I asked where I could find the most local cuisine, and I never ate at a restaurant with an Americanized menu. I tried my very best to experience new things and forget about all the creature comforts of home. I found that when I walked miles to places where I no longer saw any white people, I could observe and learn how to act best.

Luckily, I made many Thai friends and when I sat with them I tried to ask questions so I could understand and fit into their culture better. I asked how I could turn down all the tuk-tuk drivers trying to sell me a ride or say no the people selling me items on the beach. Unfortunately, many said the other American's they had met were arrogant and thought they were above everyone. It became almost embarrassing to tell people that I was from The United States of America. I know we are a great country, but believing I am from a great country doesn't mean that other countries are not great. Thailand is a magnificent and beautiful with the nicest people once you try and get to know them. I wouldn't have left to come home had I not already had a plane ticket booked.

I miss learning and experiencing life living in Thailand and I want to go back every single day. I hope all my friends get to have an experience there as well. All I have to say is that as a visitor in a foreign country, educate yourself, treat people with respect, and try and forget about the American ego that has been pounded into your head. When you approach a new experience with open arms you might be surprised what you learn about yourself and where you're from.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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