german traits lost in thailandLiving 

5 German Traits I Lost After Moving To Thailand

Being German by birth (stop making fun of my accent while reading this!) I do come with a few typical German traits attached to my personality. I think most of you can relate in this regard. Not necessarily with being German but with having some traits that we might not even notice when living at home but that become obvious once we leave our cultural comfort zone. When thinking about those traits and how my personality changed ever since moving to Thailand I realized that I, more or less, lost a few of those traits. Here are my top 5 lost traits ever since moving to the land of smile.

German directness

I don’t necessarily like you, but that’s not problem. Is what I would say to a person I, well, don’t necessarily like but can still tolerate and work together with. Here in Thailand that’s probably nothing you would want to say to anyone. Nobody here is ‘direct’ or ‘straight forward’ in their approaches. Even if they really want/need you to do something, it will always be phrased like ‘it would be nice if you could’ and if you really don’t want to do someone a favor, you will still say yes.

The most interesting part in this regard, at least for me, is that professional criticism at work is also not well received if it is too direct. While I wouldn’t mind if you would give me some professional advice or tips here you could only do that packaged in some really nice and positive words.

#NoDMs

German rules & organization

One thing that Germany is famous for, besides beer and BMW, is our obsession with rules and regulations. Thailand doesn’t need to hide in this regard though. The paperwork assigned to every single task (visa, work permit, University applications, etc.) is insane! However that does not mean that those rules will be followed and that the organization in general depends – or even counts – on those rules.

So while there might be a rule for everything here, most of those rules won’t be really enforced or considered ‘important’ and if a rule is not ‘important’ then why should it be followed? Just look at traffic lights. Merely a suggestion rather than a rule.

The same goes for organizational structures. They exist in theory but in real life don’t necessarily play that much of an important rule. In fact, organizing something in theory might be done way tooooo much but then those plans might never be executed.

#NoStructure

German over insurance

In Germany most people got insurances for / against everything. Every. Thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if there would be an insurance for beer damage done to your shoes during the October Fest in Munich. Here in Thailand I don’t have as many insurances. In fact I pay most medical bills straight with the hospital as the private sector seems to have bigger influence within healthcare than compared to home. Maybe that’s also thanks to the language barrier that I didn’t really bother finding insurances for every little thing, but it did work out rather well so far (let’s hope I didn’t jinx anything by writing this) and took the burden of going through thousands of insurance policies and comparisons of my shoulder as I always hated to do such things.

#YOLO

German distance

While personal space is, most commonly defined, to be around 0,5 meters, for Germans it’s usually more like 500 meters. If you want to come any closer, metaphorically and literally speaking, you need to be good friend – otherwise we like to keep our distance. Good luck trying this in Thailand, Bangkok specifically. There’s simply no space for a lot of privacy and you’re much closer to everybody else by default. Also walls are thinner and people seem to have less problems sharing their every day life with their environment. I can probably even tell you when my neighbors last consummated their marriage (yes walls are thinner here too). Also, but that’s no surprise in the “Land of Smiles” people are just more open in regards to smiling and offering you their ‘service’. If that’s something entirely positive or negative is something that everybody else has to judge. I do think that I learned to be more open towards others though which is, for me, a good thing!

#OpenMinded

German Love of nature

First thing most Germans do when they arrive somewhere new is having a stroll around and check out their vicinity. That’s not so we know how to blitzkrieg but rather to figure out what’s happening in our new neighborhood and so we feel more comfortable in our new surrounding. We love to walk, spend time outside, open windows whenever possible (even during the winter at night, thanks grandma!) and try to breath ‘fresh air’ at every possibility.

Once in Bangkok…

Bangkok pollution
Bangkok pollution

Let’s just say I learned to appreciate shopping malls and free air condition, a lot.

#JustDontWalk

How did moving to Thailand change you? Shout out in the comments!

Sascha Funk

Founder / Editor at My-Thai.org
Sascha is the publisher of my-thai.org and switched from an online marketing agency life in Europe to a teaching and education life in Thailand. He also writes about Teaching & Technology.

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  • Penpitcha Sathirapanya

    To be honest, this blog is the most amazing blog that I ever read. I read all the content (not just skim reading). To be more honest than the first, I like all the German traits that you wrote. However, even I love other countries’ society and lifestyle, complain Thai traffic, education and so on, I still like Thailand the most. I think other countries trait and language is the barrier for me but it’s the most interesting thing for me also. I learn that people behavior base on culture and environment. By the way, I hope you have a great time in Thailand ;)

  • Most amazing? :D I’m glad you’re not exaggerating and appreciate that compliment ;-) I enjoy my time here and actually am happy that I had to adjust in some regards – for example being more open minded. So I didn’t mean to complain with this post and will show a few traits that I picked up in one of the upcoming articles as well :)

  • Machima Anantanasan

    I do agree that Thai people are indirect since our society shapes us to be like this, however, it is hard for me sometimes when I have to say yes for what I don’t want to do. So I kinda like Western culture that people say straight forward to what they really think. About the rule and organisation, I think that is it a little bit harder in Thailand to change but what can we do is to be honest to ourselves and follow the rules which is the hardest thing to do,lol. In addition, I actually like this post that give me other perspectives, how foreigner see my country, and that is the best way for Thailand to see where we are and start to develop the country!!

  • Thx for your comment. Appreciate it. And actually it’s rather positive for me to having to adapt to certain new circumstances. While being on time and organized is of course quite positive I don’t like how we (Germans) can get upset about someone being only 3 minutes late for example. So living in Thailand and learning a different approach to time helped to become a bit more relaxed (even though I’m still basically never late ;-)).

  • Penpitcha Sathirapanya

    maybe I choose wrong word, so it looks too exaggerate :(

  • Ginni Kiatfuengfoo

    How did moving to Thailand change me? … I would say how did moving ‘back’ to Thailand made me feel nervous! Hahaha. Since I was living in Czech Republic and move back here make me realize that Thai people have many different traits, especially on the directness! I do understand how you feel when you don’t like or don’t want something but you always have to say ‘yes!’ I was quite suffering to spending time with people or I would say the adults. When I speak something that comes from my opinions and my feelings but it seems to be very rude and aggressive for them:-( I totally agree with you that it is very hard for foreigners who move to Thailand and will be lost their mind!! I hope you get used to it already or if not just be patient and try to understand us ;-) It’s great to know from you!

  • Thanks for your thoughts! I think younger people have it even worse than me in some regards. When you talk to elders, they don’t really consider you equal so they don’t really care about your opinions so I understand how you feel. This, by the way, still happens to me as well when there are meetings and I’m one of the youngest people in the meeting :-/ Nevertheless there are also many things I learned here that make me happy (as you can see from the follow up article! :)).

    I think patience is one of the things I definitely improved upon thanks to moving here and working in education ;-)

  • I didn’t mean to criticize! I like it when you’re amazed! :) Keep it up! :)

  • Noooo. I didn’t mean to criticize! I like when you’re amazed! :) Keep it up! :)

  • Song Sathiraboot

    Comment week 5

    As you’ve said, I also been facing problems with directness in Thailand. People usually claimed that they’re ‘straightforward.’ However, in reality, sometimes, they couldn’t even accept the truth. One example here that is very obvious is when I was in Thai school compared to when I was in an international school. I’ve been studying in an international school since kindergarten 3 till grade 5. Then, I moved to Thai school for a year and a half, and moved back to an international school till I graduated from high school. Because I’ve been in both environment, I could see a major differences. For instance, when I was in an international school, I developed a traits where people could gives some feed backs and suggestion without being seen as ‘criticizing’ or being ‘rude.’ When we gave some feedback or asked some questions to the teacher, they are welcoming to answer the questions. However, when I was in a Thai school, things got different. Because I’ve been in an international school for so long, at first, I didn’t understand the Thai society that much. Without knowing, my curiosity about a subject, had been seen as being rude towards the teacher. For instance, there is an ‘English class’ that was being taught by a ‘Thai’ teacher, and she pronounce the word wrong (completely wrong.) Then I ‘politely’ asked the teacher ‘privately’ after class about her wrong pronunciation, but all she did was getting angry and telling me that I was being rude. I was so shocked because I didn’t think that asking questions about the word pronunciation would be considered as being rude. As you’ve said, sometimes, we have to find a ‘very nice’ word to gives to a negative feedback here in Thailand. I found this very difficult since it’s harder to find a nice word to gives a feedback to a negative work than finding a nice word to gives a feedback to a positive work.

  • Great example, thank you for sharing! You’re always welcome to ask / feedback me by the way ;-) I saw similar things during my time as a volunteer at a local college in Isaan. Teachers got really angry when students would ask critical questions :-/

  • Eve Supmee

    It’s funny how I totally agree with you even though I’m Thai. Since I had study aboard before, I do agree that in western society many thing is different from Thailand. First thing and most obvious, directness people in Thailand avoid to say thing directly. Most of them are for good reason, but there are many that avoid directness for bad reason. For example, many people in Thailand avoid saying “I don’t like you” but end up gossip others later. I would very much prefer others to say “I don’t like you” more than faking. Secondly, Rules and regulations, this is happen since the past till now. Thai rules never actually make people scare to break the rules or make people want to follow it. Even in the small society, making regulation or rules is very hard since our Thai society has been negligent from the past. This also due to (too)courteous. I haven’t been experience any insurance problem so I can’t give opinion on it. For, the love of nature this is true because since Thailand fail to manage pollution due to many problem. I would rather staying in the house or shopping in the mall instead of going out that full with air pollution. But, there are also others place that very fresh and clean, unfortunately is not in the Bangkok!

  • Good points, thanks for your comment! Totally agree with you. Especially in regards to the rules – they don’t even work in a classroom setting…. :o ;-)

  • Jenny Philomena

    Hahaha! I love this blog! It’s funny, because I have lived in Germany for around 8 years and can imagine exactly what you are saying. German people are really straight forward, but at the same time I know A LOT of german people who live in thailand and are loved by everyone. 😊

    I’ve lost a lot of dutch/german traits as well. If I had to go back, I might be culture shocked by them instead of a Thai culture shock! 😂 There are a lot of Germans Traits that I like, but some of them are hard to get used to again once you’ve been living in Thailand. Since the people here are so close and interactive all the time, it makes me a feel a little lonely every time I revisit Europe. 😅

  • I can handle loneliness in Europe better than here though. In Europe it’s ‘normal’ to be alone sometimes, here it’s a tragedy for many people ;-)

  • Peach Sawangcharoen

    hahahaha this blog made my laugh tho! I like it a lot. I can feel you tho even if not the whole thing. Thai people is just ‘Thai’. I don’t know how where I can get you the definition of Thai people, experiencing is the best thing to understand them. Even though I’m Thai but there are just like some of their personality or traits that i feel like it doesn’t make sense to me.

    After I went for an exchange, I totally understand foreign people who live here in Thailand. They need to change and adapt a lot. For our nature, Thai people doesn’t express their feeling or their thought that much. They are not a direct people. We are indirect lol. There are many reason for us to do this. Maybe they don’t want to hurt others feeling or maybe just trying to be a courteous people.

    I am very appreciate you tho that you can survive in Thailand until now. Living with Thai people quit hard in my opinion. Good jib Mr.Sascha!!!

  • Thanks for your comment and support :D I think it’s probably a similar feeling for Thai people who move to Germany though. I read a few posts on pantip where Thais, who now live in Germany, complained about Germans being so ‘distant’ and ‘cold’ and ‘never smile’. So it really is a cultural thing and one simply has to be open to new experiences. Working with you guys also helps a lot though tbh, so thanks as well! :-)

  • Kana Matsushita

    You totally made my eyes teary somehow. lol Japan and Thailand have some in common because we are asians. However, the absolute difference between them is developed country or developing country. I do not feel uncomfortable with people here because personality that thai people have and Japanese people have is quite alike.(Japanese people are much more shy though) However, as I mentioned, the way how Thai people live and what Thai society has are defenity different because Thailand is still developing, and that is the only one thing makes me feel uncomfortable living here. What thai people do not have in their living is what Japanese people have normally. This directly leads me to live differently and lose some traits.
    It is okay to me because this is what exchange students are supposed to learn and meant to be.

  • I understand that feeling but just like you said, it’s an experience. I have lots of Japanese friends (not close, but on a friendly basis) whom I play volleyball with each week for the past few years and I can see that while there are same ‘asian’ traits, they are more quiet in public and sometimes also struggle to interact with some of the Thai players around simply because of some cultural differences. Seems like we expats, people who live abroad, are all in a similar boat. :)