At university we are constantly meeting new people and the standard conversation starter is ‘what course are you on,’ ‘where are you living?’ and I find it very easy to answ
At university we are constantly meeting new people and the standard conversation starter is ‘what course are you on,’ ‘where are you living?’ and I find it very easy to answer these questions. However, very soon after, the dreaded question ‘where are you from?’ strikes and I rattle my brain on what I want to say. Do I pick one country I feel more associated with or shall I give my whole life story?
At first the thought of being able to say ‘I’m just from London’ appears easier. Soon after I have come to realise that being a ‘citizen of the world’ is something to embrace, and people genuinely seem interested to hear where I’m from.
In brief I am half English, half Chinese, but have been brought up in Bangkok, Thailand and having the wonderful privilege to go to an International school.
The expatriate life seems relatively unknown to most people at university but at school I was surrounded by so many different cultures. In my school (of 2200 students) we had over 93 nationalities that every year we even held an International day. This was one of my favourites. We had an opening ceremony similar to that of the Olympics, followed by cultural activities and best of all the food hall which hosted a wide array of food from all the countries our school community was from. We did have an education too, following the British system but some elements had a more international basis to it.
Did I forget to mention it was free!?
The volunteering and activity opportunities were endless. The great part of the volunteering aspect was that living in Bangkok we could make an immediate difference to many people who were living in a country that is still developing and living standards much lower than in the UK.
The kind of schemes that students could get involved in included, “Habitat for humanity” – where we got to build houses in Northern Thailand and “NAPO project” – where each class sponsored a student’s education.
My life in Bangkok, although very sheltered in comparison to the livelihoods of many Bangkok residents, still gave me so much knowledge and appreciation for another culture.
For expats its a very comfortable lifestyle; the choice of restaurants is endless for every type of cuisine, the shopping has a mixture of large shopping malls (many of similar size to Meadowhall, Trafford centre, Bluewater take your pick), markets and wholesale shops.
The outdoor markets are my favourite with up to date fashion as well as food stalls, which I regularly enjoy whilst also supporting the local economy.
All in all, my parents job moved us out there and I would not change it for the world. Many people ask if we enjoy living there without English home comforts and to be honest home is where you make it.
The experience of living in Thailand has been amazing and there is a large support system for expats. We have friends from all over the world and being able to share cultures on a daily basis cannot be replaced.