Coming back to the US I always get hit with a reverse culture shock, a “wow these people are really weird” moment in regards to my own people. It gives you a chance to see how much you yourself has changed.
Here are the key things which I noticed:
Me, Myself and I
There’s a very strong sense of me here. What do I want, what do I think. And everyone will let you know their opinions.
Americans are really good at complaining. I think we’re the best at it, we could win awards. One thing I’ve noticed over the years – if you complain about something, the negativity expressed will make you feel worse, not better. I know many people would argue about this, but try it out first.
For example, the couple next to me on the plane complained from takeoff to landing loudly about everything. They made the flight attendants and everyone around them uncomfortable. It created a sort of umbrella of negativity around them, which puts people in a bad mood. Thais would have handled it by just brushing things off, and not letting them bother them, or perhaps have made a joke about it.
Lack of ‘Greng Jai’
There is a concept which is foreign to Americans which all Thai people grew up knowing. Imagine thinking about the consequence of everything you say and do before doing or saying it. Think “will this offend/hurt/make this other person uncomfortable?” And then if so, not doing it. Value others in front of yourself. Sounds like a nice concept doesn’t it? Americans don’t do it (me, me, me) and Thais do it way overboard. I think a nice happy medium would be ideal.
More about greng jai here: