Can A Thai Woman Be Really Happy in Farang World, Reply 2
If I can be late to the party?:
The writer of the original post paints this concept with a very broad brush. I could ask the same question of a Farang living in Thailand and on and on. In my opinion no matter who you are or where you are from, if you relocate you always take yourself with you. A successful relocation from any country to another will require adjustments and it is truly up to that person to make them, as obviously the country well not adjust to meet your particular cultural beliefs.
Thailand is indeed quite unique, perhaps due to the lack of colonization, Chinese influences and many ways that are simply common to Thailand. Within its population are people that share some common beliefs and a way of going about life. Beyond some predictable interactions with Thais one can find a broad scope and range of ideas beliefs and attitudes that are found in each Thai, and for that matter the rest of us. There is no culture that is lock-step with everyone interacting in the same manner all of the time.
I know 2 Thai women that live in my Midwestern American city, my wife and her Thai co-worker. Her co-worker has been here about 40 years, and tells me that she has no interest in Thailand and considers herself an American. I believe her. Obviously I know much more about my wife and her adjustment so this post will be about her and her experience.
She was one of 7 children born in rural Korat. After the death of her father, when she was age 11, she went to work in the rice fields to help support her family. Her youngest sibling was an infant. She relocated to Bangkok at about age 16 for better work and lived there about 20+ years. Although she has a grade school education she is quite bright and self educated. She is quite interested in the news and has a very broad knowledge of Thai politics.
She came to our home in America over 3 years ago. My Midwestern city of about 1 million has many nationalities with a large number of Mexican, Sudanese, and a rapidly growing Burmese population, but few Thais. Our community is perhaps friendlier and more laid back than the large cities on either coast. She did have a period of adjustment that was very difficult for her. For months she had problems with temporary hair loss due to stress, but to her credit she stuck it out and worked through it.
She attends English school (provided free of charge) and is quite diligent at her studies. She thoroughly enjoys learning and is very keen to learn correct pronunciation. She gleans a sense of pride and accomplishment when she is able to hold a conversation in English. When she completed an intermediate course and was placed in a different classroom she was quite disappointed as she dearly loved her teacher. However, she has adjusted and maintains some contact with her former teacher. She has plans to learn English to a high level and I have no doubt she will do so.
For months after her arrival she was not able to work due to the lack of a work permit. I know this was difficult for her as she has this huge work ethic. After she received work permission I helped her secure a position at a subsidiary of the company I worked for. It was not particularly interesting work as it was a production type of facility, but the pay was good and she enjoyed her co-workers. Her boss absolutely loved her due to her work ethic and pleasant demeanor.
She is a highly skilled massage therapist and left her job at my company when it appeared she would be able to secure a license. She worked under a temporary permit for 6 months at a local massage college. She developed a following of people with bad knees, hips and backs that found relief in her treatments. They would pay $60 to $100 per treatment week after week. I can testify to her skill from my own experience. For years I had a problem with a painful shoulder. I had been to my doctor, physical therapists, and a chiropractor and the problem remained. After she administered 3 painful treatments 2 years ago I have not had any pain whatsoever. When she sought her permanent license the state authorities reversed what they had originally told her and gave her only one option, to take the qualifying test in English or Spanish. This turn of events left me more than extremely pissed off.
She returned to the production facility she had previously worked at and was welcomed back. She received a nice wage increase recently and is quite diligent about doing a good job. She continues to give weekly treatments to a former massage customer at $100 each. This man has a very bad knee and has only found relief with her treatments. He tells me that because of her help every aspect of his life is much improved. (We call them stretching instruction.) She also teaches Thai massage at a massage school. Curiously, you don't need a massage license to teach! You figure? She is paid between $400 and $600 per day for teaching. She is so popular that her quarterly classes fill and close quickly. She remains unaffected by this success and tells me it's only because she has very good students.
My experience with her about money is quite different than anything I have read about Thai/Farang relationships. It has been very seldom that any money requests have been made. I have spent only a very small sum other than when I first brought her to America. She does send money to her family but it must be her money. She regularly gives me money to help with living expenses. This is her idea, not mine. Her family doesn't have large needs so it isn't a large burden for her. She buys clothes, purses, and shoes like just about every other woman I know. She loves to shop and has a few favorite stores. She also purchased a very nice laptop computer, and is able to read postings in the Thai language that she could not get in Thailand. Let me say that she has some interesting insights that she did not posses previously.
She is very well liked among my family and friends. Some of her friends are a Sudanese, and a Chinese from English school, a Thai co-worker, and a Mexican with little English skills. A massage therapist in her early 20s with a Gothic look resplendent with tattoos and piercings is among her favorites. Although I don't question it, I wonder how she communicates with the Mexican. She is quite close with the owner of the massage school she is affiliated with. This fine lady is a stand-up person and very good to my wife.
For the future she just now received her 10-year green card (permanent US resident) and plans to work for US citizenship. She will soon get a driver's license and plans to purchase an SUV. She likes American cars and thinks they are better built and sturdier than the Thai models. I agree. She will no doubt save her money so she can pay cash although she could easily finance a car with her good credit rating. She likes the well ordered traffic flow here and now considers driving in Thailand just plain crazy.
My wife loves America. There are so many things she can do here that simply were not available to her in Thailand. She can earn a good wage, buy things for herself that she could not before. She can contribute to her family as needs arise that she was not able to do working in Thailand. I think that her success in America speaks more to her than anything else. She is loved and respected by everyone for the kind gentle person she is. To her credit she has made her relocation work well.
Stick posed the question at the end of the above referenced submission: “It would be interesting to know what commonalities there were amongst Thai women who do prefer life in the West.”
I think my wife, because of the person that she is, has created a series of successful experiences that have helped her to integrate into American society. She has come to understand that America is truly a nation of immigrants and that she is indeed a part of this country. I think that if a Thai, or anybody else can create some successful experiences relocating they will be happy.
Nice story. I do wonder how your wife would feel if she could earn the same money in Thailand as she does in the States. I know of quite a few Thai women who prefer life in the West – specifically, I am talking New Zealand here – and they claim they do not want to go back to living in Thailand. When I ask them if they would return to Thailand if they could earn the same money in Thailand as they do in New Zealand, they think long and hard and you can just see them thinking, "Why did you have to ask me that?!"