I get to see the world from two different points of view - Maleeya and Luke Watts, both year 8, write about their memories of Thailand and reflect on how they have adapted to life in the UK.
The lady who worked at the fried chicken stand across the road was always so nice. I would walk there with my mum to get some amazing, crisp fried chicken and sticky rice. We called it ‘YFC’, Yanawa Fried Chicken (Yanawa being the name of our neighbourhood in Bangkok).
I remember my mum and the lady could smile and laugh and joke about little things within a 4 minute conversation. It would always be a calm, smooth, easy conversation that could be started with no effort at all. It was exactly the same with the woman who worked in the noodle shop a 7 minute drive away. And the woman who sold sugary iced coffee a little further away from the fried chicken lady. And the man who sold peanuts, the man who sold sweet corn with butter spread and sprinkled with sugar, and the man who sold helium balloons of, sometimes, Mickey Mouse or Winnie The Pooh.
The streets of Bangkok lit up with those conversations between anyone and everyone. The jokes, the laughter, the smiles and the consistent respect.
When I moved here, I felt that people did not have the same sense of oneness - sense of solidarity - with each other. It was a sense I couldn’t quite understand or explain before I really thought about it. People are more reserved here, I find. There is the occasional hello and smile with some people you pass on the road, of course. But after that ‘Hello’ slips off your tongue, it is gone and you are left with what you had before. The beauty of Thailand, to me, is that everyone shares their day with each other. Each morning, one starts with a colour and by the end of the day, that colour has been mixed with countless others. The lack of the social hierarchy when on the streets is how I grew up and is something that is now with me forever. It’s not like that in all circumstances, though.
In schools in Thailand, hierarchy was something completely different. It was painful, in fact. We had to call ourselves, when talking to a teacher, a ‘formal’ way of saying me or I which literally translates to mouse. Which, one could imagine, created a feeling of inequality and being inferior, less and even small. Even when you didn’t realise it. However, it was not like there was a barrier between a teacher and student which limited the friendliness and jokes with each other but when the time came, a teacher could really treat you horribly with no respect at all. Here, there is still a sense of an appropriate amount of hierarchy in schools as expected but it is not at all like it was in Thailand. I’m happier at school and with the education system in the UK.
Overall, I feel I have settled well and I am happy with the things around me. Handed to me, have been opportunities that I wouldn’t have had before. I have met a friend for life and I have discovered thoughts, interests and opinions influenced by things around me now and by getting to see two different parts of the world, and the world from two different points of view.
Now, I share my day with others in the Thai way while appreciating the many good things about the British way.
My only experience of school in the western world was from movies.
Like High School Musical and Horrid Henry; one of which isn’t even set in the UK. The transition from a Thai school that was strict and more focused on how we looked and behaved more than how we actually did in school was difficult.
I went to a bilingual school where I learned most of my English language rules and grammar but the reason I have the ability to speak English perfectly is because I spoke it regularly with my British dad.
The first impression I got of England and English people was from a very angry man from Exeter who shouted at us for pulling into his driveway to get our luggage sorted.
The first town that we decided to put on our list of potential places to live was Camelford in the south west of England. We travelled around the country for three weeks trying to find the nicest place for us to live.
When I first moved here and joined primary school, I was welcomed by some friendly teachers and students but the only relative who lived here was my Grandma.
When I lived in Thailand, a treat was the paradisiacal beaches that were quite far away because we lived in the city of Bangkok. However, here, the beaches are ice cold and impossible to swim in without becoming an ice cube. A striking change, which is quite obvious, is the temperature difference between the two countries. They are polar opposites. The average 30 degrees all year round to the temperatures here.
I hope any and all people who move here get a warm welcome the way I did.