Hi, my name is Anna, I am from England, and I now live in Bangkok, Thailand.
1. Why did you move abroad?
I moved abroad because my boyfriend of six years was posted here by his company. Unfortunately, after we had lived in Bangkok for nine months, my boyfriend decided he no longer wanted to be with me, and he told me that I should return to the UK. This came out of the blue and I suddenly found myself 32 years old, homeless and unemployed. I had to decide quickly how I saw my life moving forward. I had really taken to living in Bangkok by that time, and had made a lovely group of friends. I was then offered a job here, so I decided to stay and make a go of things on my own.
2. How do you make a living?
I am a journalist working for an American/Thai law firm. I manage their blogs, websites, journals and social media sites. I have also just started doing some vlogs for their you tube channel which has taken me a little out of my comfort zone, but I actually now find I enjoy it! I used to be a lawyer back in the UK, so this is the perfect job for me: mixing my knowledge of the law with my love of writing. It is different working for a Thai company. The set hours are longer (8.30-6 instead of 9-5 although in reality I used to work much longer) and only 2 weeks holiday a year instead of the 5 I enjoyed at home, but I find this to be a much more relaxing environment. I learnt more Thai in my first three weeks of being here than I had in my previous nine months of living in Bangkok! We all sit and eat lunch together everyday which is not only nice and sociable but I am so much more adventurous now with my eating habits.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
In some shape or manner, I speak to my mum every day! During the week, because of the time difference it tends to be via whats app or email, but we Facetime during the weekend. I talk to my close friends most days too via Facebook or whats app. The internet makes it so much easier to keep in touch.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Bangkok?
Apart from the warmth, I would have to say my fellow expats. To begin with I was worried how I was going to make friends here, but my circle of friends is far larger than it was back home – if I wanted too I could have plans for every night of the week. I don’t know if it’s the weather or the never ending happy hours, but everyone is always really keen to meet up, and people are much more receptive to making new friends. Predominantly people move here not knowing anyone, but that means anything is game when it comes to making friends: emailing someone whose blog you have found or whose interview you have read, going to a random meetup with strangers from a networking event or twitter: things I just would never have done in England, but it has certainly given me something to think about should I return home.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Bangkok?
It’s probably the same response that every other expat gives, but feeling homesick. I miss my friends and family a lot. I am dreading it when the hour changes and we will be seven hours ahead of the UK and not six – strange as it sounds that hour makes a real difference when it comes to keeping in touch.
6. What do you miss most?
Putting aside the obvious friends and family answer, English supermarkets! I miss having a car, being able to drive and then walk into a fully stocked supermarket and then driving home. It’s hard work carrying a pack of water home in this humidity! Luckily I have now found a local supermarket that will deliver if I spend over a certain amount, so I now tend to do a big monthly shop stocking up on water and other heavy items. I miss as well wandering around a supermarket and knowing what everything. I suppose what follows on from that is I also miss cooking – I make a mean Sunday Roast. I only have a small kitchen in my condo, and to be honest a meal would cost me three times what a meal on the street would cost by the time I have bought all the key ingredients, for my otherwise bare cupboards.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
I said yes to everything! It’s the only way you will meet people. The sooner you start to make new friends and mix, the easier you will find it and the more friends you will keep on making. One of the Thai girls in my office has even joked I know more people here than she does. Learn the language too. I have found life a whole lot easier now I have started to speak a little bit of Thai. Lastly, get out and explore – getting to know the city is the only way it will become familiar to you and will start to feel like home.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
I find some of the food the Thais love a little odd. I recall I once had a chicken curry, and I suddenly noticed there was a chicken’s foot bobbing around it. Fish balls are another popular item I just don’t understand.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
That it’s always sunny! Sunshine and humidity are two different things. Yes, it is always hot here, but more often than not the sky can look grey when I look out of my window.
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
It depends. Rent and travel are very cheap. I pay 16,500 baht a month for a one bed roomed condo just off Sukhumvit Road that’s about a five minute walk to the BTS. My complex has a gym, a pool and 24 hour security. I dread to think what I would pay for the equivalent in England. Food and alcohol can be expensive. It is possible to live off street food and live very cheaply here, but there’s always a time when you want something familiar that reminds you of home, and imported international goods are expensive. Same with wine – because it’s predominantly all imported, there’s tax on it, and it’s very hard to find a cheap good bottle of wine.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
Try and meet as many new people as you can. It makes life easier if you have a local support network that you can rely on. If you are shipping things from home to your new country, try and think about what you pack in your suitcase. Clothes and shoes can be bought over here, but photographs and personal belongings might make those first few weeks a little easier for you.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started my blog mainly as a way of something to do and keep occupied with when I didn’t work. It also forced me to get out and see things during the day so I didn’t just sit at home. I then started realising that people other than my friends and family were reading it too, and actually now I find that it’s something I really enjoy – I guess it’s my hobby! It’s made me think a lot about how I write, and I am starting to focus more on my photography now, and of course it keeps me exploring Bangkok on the weekend!
Anna's blog, Bangkok Girl
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