Culture Shock

No matter how much research you do, there is nothing that can prepare you for life until you get out there and live it. When I went to bed last night, I had no prior warning of the emotions that would be waiting for me when I awoke. I woke up feeling anxious, depressed, irritated, unhappy and angry. I felt totally disconnected from my body, my mind and my surroundings, and at 8am in the morning it was a lot to take in.

It wasn’t until it was pointed out to me on Twitter, that I realised I was suffering from culture shock.

Culture shock is defined by Wikipedia as being the “personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new country or to move between social environments.”
When S and I first discussed moving to Bangkok we knew it might be stressful and we knew that it would be definitely be different. After all, how could it not be when we were packing a suitcase, hopping on a plane and leaving everything behind?
But what I did not expect, was the reason behind my culture shock…
I’m not homesick.
I don’t want to return to England just yet (Sorry Mum&Dad!)
It’s not that Thailand doesn’t have proper Cadbury’s chocolate.
It’s not even the language barrier.
It’s because I don’t have a job. (I know! I was just as surprised as you!)
And because of that tiny little detail I’m struggling.
I miss the routine. I miss having a reason to get up in the morning. I miss the opportunity to meet an interact with new people. I miss working.

Finding a job abroad isn’t technically difficult.
Put yourself out there, apply and interview.
But actually getting a job, is harder.

I had an interview last week which went really well. The company liked me, I liked the company but visa requirements got in the way. I’m currently in Thailand on a tourist visa and the company said that they couldn’t hire me until I had my one year visa and my work permit sorted.
Pah! Easy… I thought!
It turns out that in order to extend a tourist visa into a non immigrant B visa (one year visa) you need to have a job lined up, and a letter from the company saying that they’re going to employ you once you have your visa.
Once you have your visa, gaining a work permit is easy. IF you have a degree.
If you don’t then getting a work permit is more difficult, with your fate of staying and working in the country legally, depending upon the staff’s mood that day.

A lot of companies will sort this all out for you, however the company I interviewed with wasn’t going to, nor were they gong to give me a letter of potential employment. So after gaining nothing but a headache I decided this particular job wasn’t for me and went back to the drawing board. Life abroad feels like a constant challenge, one that plays havoc with your emotions, and whilst there are many many highs, when the lows hit, they hit hard.

I’ve decided to take a TESOL course to give myself a leg up in the teaching industry (one of the few jobs foreigners are allowed to do here) and making plans has already made me slightly more optimistic about my future here, but it isn’t instant gratification. I adore this country and I don’t regret my decision to move here for one second. The sun is warm, the people are friendly and honestly I don’t think even rehab could break my iced milk tea addiction.
But it’s times like this, when you realise how alone you are.
Don’t get me wrong, I have S and he’s a total babe.
But I miss girl time.

I tried to discuss the way I was feeling with friends. Which was tricky.
A lot of people tend to think moving abroad is all sunshine and good food. Which, to a certain extent, it is. But I moved here. This isn’t an extra long holiday and I need to be able to support myself financially. Which, people who think my life is just sitting by a pool sipping Pina Coladas, just don’t seem to understand.

The grim reality is that most of my day is spent inside tapping away on this keyboard trying to find a job. I cannot relax with financial uncertainty looming over me. It is not a friends fault that they didn’t have the answers I was looking for. After all, how could they when they haven’t lived through it themselves? I just really wanted someone to talk to that understood.
When I logged onto Twitter and sent my “Without goals I feel so lost” tweet, I didn’t actually expect anyone to reply.
But somebody did.

Anna, an expat living in Bangkok  replied saying that, she too found it difficult to move to Bangkok and to go from working as a high paced lawyer. to not working. It felt great to find somebody who knew what I was going through. I was not alone. And as I realised this, the darkness began to lift.
Anna introduced me to a great network of expat women, who were each understanding of the emotional roller coaster that came with life as an expat.

Whether it’s from moving country or moving neighbourhood, change can be difficult.
I was just too excited to acknowledge that there may be set backs along the way.

Have you ever experienced culture shock?
Leave a comment in the box below, I’d love to hear about the changes you’ve made and how you coped with the transition.

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