Rhiannon: My Experience in Thailand

Hello, my name is Rhiannon. I am 14 years old and I’ve lived in Thailand for 3 years now. I was born in England and moved to Australia when I was 5. I lived in Australia until I was 11, then I moved to Thailand; meaning that I spent majority of my life in Australia. My main hobbies include reading, spending time with family and friends, listening to music and photography. My dad works for Ford Motor Company and was offered a promotion here in Thailand. It was such a brilliant opportunity and we gladly took it. It was really good timing because I was due to start Secondary School the next year. I then started Year 7 at St. Andrews International School Green Valley in Thailand.

Settling into school in Thailand was quite hard for me; not only was I starting Secondary School, but the Australian and British school year timetables are quite different. In Australia, the school year begins in February, but in the UK it starts in August. So, everyone else was half way through Year 7 and I had only finished primary school 2 months earlier. It was difficult to catch up with the work, but by the beginning to Year 8 it was like I’d always gone to school here and my grades dramatically improved. In Australia, I went to a public school which had around 800 kids from the age of 6-12 years old. In Thailand, I go to an international school with around 500 kids from the age of 2/3-18 years old. There’s obviously a massive difference in the size of the school.

The nicest thing about St. Andrews here in Thailand is that the classes are small and everyone knows each other really well. Making friends in both Australia and Thailand was fairly easy for me, I think if you’re nice to people you’ll make friend easily enough. The kind of people between Australia and Thailand are quite different though because in Thailand you experience so many different nationalities going to an international school, but in Australia there is less diversity of nationalities. Which makes people in Thailand more culturally aware and able to get along with wide varieties of people. I would definitely say my interests and thoughts/beliefs have changed since I’ve lived in Thailand; my eyes have been opened and I now understand other cultures better. In Thailand school goes for much longer.

We have school from 8:20am-3:20pm everyday, but on Fridays we finish at 3:00pm instead. In Australia, I used to have school from 9:00am-3:00pm everyday. I definitely have much more homework here; I can easily get 3 or more subjects of homework every night. Sometimes it will be due in the next day, so I always do my homework the day I get it. In Australia, I used to usually get homework on a Monday and it would be due in on Friday. Which I definitely prefer, but obviously the amount homework will depend on what year you’re in. In Australia, my school uniform consisted of a white shirt and navy shorts. It wasn’t very strict and teachers didn’t really mind what you wore (piercings, jewelry, hair colours/styles, shoes etc.). Whereas in Thailand, you have a white shirt with the school logo, navy/black culottes and black shoes. There are quite a few restrictions as well (one stud earring in each ear, no ridiculous hair colours, one bracelet on each wrist etc.) I think it’s better to be more strict with the uniform because everyone looks the same and it’s much neater that way. Living in Thailand is massively different to living in any other European/Western country.

In Australia, everything was a 5 minute drive from my house. In Thailand, we have our driver to take us everywhere. In Australia, you would go to our neighbors house to watch sport games. In Thailand, I live next to a field pretty much in the middle-of-no-where. In Australia, I could walk to my friend’s house. In Thailand, all of my friends live at least 30 minutes away. It’s hard to meet up with your friends here because you have to plan it in advance; find somewhere not too far from both of your houses, get your parents to agree, find someone to drive you etc. On my street, there is the water people, the gardeners, a Dutch man and a teacher from my school. There aren’t any kids my age, so all my friends in Thailand are people from school and my dad’s colleague’s children.

In Australia, living around us were kids my age and there was also a park a few minutes walk down the road so I knew some of the people from there, as well as my school friends. There is a huge difference in culture between Thailand and Australia. The food for starters, is so different. Before moving here I went to a Thai restaurant with my family to see what the food would be like. But, when we came to Thailand and actually tried Thai food it was so different to what it was in the restaurant. Then in Thailand, at the supermarket you have access to so many international foods, but in Australia it was mainly all Australian produce. The activities and sports aren’t the same between Australia and Thailand. In Australia, footy (Australian Football League or Aussie Rules Football) and cricket is very popular. I’d go to see the matches often or watch it on TV. In Thailand, I would say that watching the matches on TV is more common than actually going to see Pattaya City play (for example).

I’ve always been an independent person, but I think I had more opportunity to be independent in Australia because everything is a lot closer to home and I wouldn’t have to rely on my parents taking me everywhere. I would say the biggest differences between Australia and Thailand is the lifestyle. In Thailand, everything is very chilled, with no deadlines and no one seems to worry about anything. In a western country like Australia, however it’s much more upbeat and fast paced.

I love both Thailand and Australia for different reasons. Australia is basically where I grew up, I have so many friends there and it’s a beautiful country. Then Thailand, is amazing because it holds so many education opportunities and the people are always friendly.

My advice for anyone moving from Thailand to Australia is not to worry. It is a very different place from Thailand, but it’s lovely nonetheless. Everyone is really nice and you’re bound to make friends easily because Australians are typically very talkative. Also, be prepared. Don’t go overseas without knowing anything about the country. Get some books or go online and look at cultural differences and different words/slang they may use. Other than that, just enjoy yourself and have fun.