A friend of mine was lamenting about the language challenges of visiting Japan. As a result, he did not enjoy his travels to Japan. On the other hand, despite my lack of Japanese language skills, I loved my trip to Japan. I pondered about our two different reactions to the same circumstance.
My conclusion? Living in Thailand has made me more open to visiting a foreign country where English is not the first language and is not widely used by a wide majority of the locals. I admit it was tough going for me the first couple of months living in Bangkok. I remember my frustration during my first grocery shopping trip. I could not figure out the laundry detergent to buy for my top-loader washing machine because all the packaging was in the Thai language. Thankfully, I later found another supermarket that had small English labels on the shelf. There was another time when we were eating at a local open-air restaurant. As we were not well-versed with the Thai language at that time, we pointed to a dish that another patron was eating, thinking it was fried squid. When our dish came, it turned out to be fried intestine!
There are probably a dozen or more such stories - driving on an unfamiliar highway interstate and not being able to read the Thai detour directions, having to memorize a few local Thai dishes names so we could order at local shops when we travelled out of Bangkok, not being able to understand the commentaries when watching a Thai performance, etc, etc. As a result of having experienced first hand the language challenges of living in a foreign country, I think that I have become more accepting of people who don't speak English and perhaps, even more adaptable when visiting a country like Japan.
Live and learn!
Who is mirroring who?
6 months ago