From our global correspondents
Former Bangkok university student Stefania Pittia is back home in Italy and she sends us some surprising observations on differences between her country and Thailand.
You probably remember Stefania Pittia who wrote two stories for us a few months ago. She spent five months in Thailand studying at Bangkok University and during her stay she did everything she could to learn about the country and culture.
Stefania has now returned to Italy and is readjusting to life there. She is constantly comparing the countries and she has put her observations into a very interesting story just for us.
There are some obvious differences between Thailand and Italy but I think you will be very surprised at some of her observations on the two countries.
Back home in Italy, thinking of Thailand
Almost two months ago I came back to Italy after my study and work experience in Bangkok. Since I landed at Venice Airport, I have not stopped remembering Thailand, and the strong feelings that it gave to me are still alive in my memories. I even started considering Thailand as my ”second home”, where I had friends, new habits and new ways of thinking and new ways of doing things.
I immediately noticed a lot of differences between Bangkok and Italy and there were several aspects of life that I had to get used to.
First of all, at this time of year in Italy it is cold. Some days the temperature goes under 0° and there is snow on the mountains. After being on the beach for Christmas and for the New Year’s Eve, it has been difficult to begin wearing coats and scarves every day.
Another important difference is the food. As everyone knows, Italy is very famous for delicious dishes, like pizza and pasta. The problem is that the cuisine is very rich, compared to Thai food. I really loved having lunch with a Tom Yum soup or having dinner with a Kao Pad Kung. In Italy we typically cook pasta, vegetables and meat, accompanied by bread and concluded with dessert. My body is not prepared to eat all these heavy things.
Moreover, I quickly noticed the different behaviour between Thai and Italian people. Their personalities are totally opposed. The first is helpful, warm, kind – traits I really appreciated and which I learnt and I have tried to make my own. The second is hurried, selfish, and annoyed. Thailand is cooperative, Italy is competitive.
I could see the cultural differences with my own eyes. A clear example is the way of eating: Thai people share the food, like a great family; Italian people order a single dish for each person and everyone eats only from their own.
After being in Thailand for five months, I was expecting to see something new in my country, in my town. Bangkok was a city open to new projects, new initiatives and this sense of innovation was transmitted to me: I could feel the willingness to grow, to make everything better. I had a lot of ideas for my future and my motivation was stimulated.
In Italy and in my small town, nothing has changed, not even the decorations in the shopping malls. Everything is the same as if time had stopped from when I left to when I came home.
I can thank Thailand as my source of ideas, it is a free space where you can think, produce and improve. Here in Italy I am disappointed because the cultural system does not work. There is no meritocracy and young students have to fight against the old generation in their attempt to get a new idea working.
Thailand is growing faster and it is investing for the future. Opportunities abound and businesses try to give perfect service to the customer. Italy is closed in its traditions and frequently looks at the past instead of the future.
It is obvious that every country has its own internal problems, so I do not know what a Thai thinks about Thailand, but for me, a foreign student who discovered a new world and a new culture in Bangkok, the “land of smiles” has been a marvelous experience. It has taught me new values and given me new points of view to use in my ordinary life improving my personality.
Khob khun prathet Thai!
readjust – to get used to a changed or new situation ปรับตัวใหม่
observation – a comment, especially based on something you have seen, heard or read; the act of watching somebody/something carefully for a period of time, especially to learn something การสังเกต, การเฝ้าดู, การสังเกตการณ์
consider – to regard as; to think of as ถือว่า
memory – something that you remember from the past ความจำ
immediately – happening right after something else with no delay; right away ทันที
notice – to see or hear somebody/something; to become aware of somebody/something สังเกต
aspect – one part of a situation, problem, subject, etc ด้าน,มุม
scarf – a piece of cloth that is worn around the neck, for example for warmth or decoration. Women also wear scarves over their shoulders or hair ผ้าพันคอ
cuisine – a style of cooking ประเภทอาหาร
rich – containing a lot of fat, butter, eggs, etc. and making you feel full quickly (อาหาร) มัน, มันย่อง, เลี่ยน
conclude – to finish จบ
dessert – sweet food eaten at the end of a meal ของหวาน, ขนมหวาน
behaviour – the way that someone acts or behaves พฤติกรรม, การกระทำตัว
personality – the part of a person that makes them behave in a particular way in social situations, e.g., in friendly or unfriendly way, or in a confident or shy way บุคลิกลักษณะ ลักษณะเฉพาะตน
opposed – very different from something ต่างกันมาก
trait – a characteristic that can produce a particular type of behavior ลักษณะพิเศษ
appreciate – to be grateful for something, i.e., feeling you want to thank someone for something they have done for you สำนึกในบุญคุณ
selfish – caring only about yourself rather than about other people เห็นแก่ตัว
annoyed – feeling slightly angry or impatient รู้สึกรำคาญใจ
cooperative – willing to work with others to do something; willing to do what is asked of them ให้ความร่วมมือ
initiative – a new action or movement, often intended to solve a problem ความคิดริเริ่ม
innovation – the introduction of new things, ideas or ways of doing something; a new idea, way of doing something, etc. that has been introduced or discovered นวัตกรรม, การคิดขึ้นใหม่, สิ่งที่นำเข้ามาใหม่
transmitted – sent ส่ง
motivation – a reason for doing something แรงจูงใจ
stimulate – to make something develop or become more active; to encourage something กระตุ้น, ส่งเสริม
decoration – a thing that makes something look more attractive on special occasions เครื่องประดับ
source – the place something comes from or starts at, or the cause of something แหล่งกำเนิด
meritocracy – a country or social system where people get power or money on the basis of their ability ระบบสังคมที่เชื่อการสำเร็จด้วยตนเองไม่ใช้สิทธิพิเศษทางชนชั้น; คุณธรรมนิยม
generation – a group of people in society who are born and live around the same time รุ่น (คนรุ่นต่างๆ)
invest – to spend money on something in order to make it better or more successful ลงทุน
opportunity – a chance to do something, or a situation in which it is easy for you to do something โอกาส
abound – to be present in large numbers or amounts มีมากมาย
tradition – a very old custom, belief, or story ประเพณี, ขนบธรรมเนียม
obvious – clear; easy to see, recognise or understand ชัดเจน
internal – existing or happening within a country, not between different countries ภายใน
marvelous – extremely good; wonderful ยอดเยี่ยม, ดีมาก, วิเศษ
values – beliefs about what is right and wrong and what is important in life ค่านิยม