From Thailand to the City That Never Sleeps

Filed in Exchange Visitor Spotlight by on March 1, 2017 0 Comments

j1-journes-getting-to-know-noatNoat Somprakit came to the United States from Thailand as an Exchange Visitor to complete a Business Management traineeship in New York, New York in the summer of 2016. Since then, Noat has been immersed in American culture and shared his own rich culture with colleagues and friends. He has become a part of the city that never sleeps and is learning what the way of life is like for New Yorkers and how it differs from those in Thailand. Here are just a few of the many cultural experiences Noat had in the United States as well as some cultural practices he will take back to his home in Thailand.

What has been the best part of your experience in the United States? 

I think it must be the cultural diversity. In New York, I can simply walk a few blocks and find people of all ethnicities as well as restaurants serving various delicacies from around the world. It’s just truly fantastic!

What is the strangest thing you have seen during your time thus far?

There are all kinds of interesting and crazy people on the subway.

What is the most “American” thing you have done during your time in the U.S.?

I attended a Halloween event, I followed the election, I’ve learned what to do when walking down the streets and how to interact with the people on the street, and I try to always pay a 20 percent tip.

Which stereotypes about the United States have you found to be true or false?

True: “Americans are really proud of their country, and think that it’s the best country in the world.” I can see everybody is very proud to be an American, and that’s a good thing. But you can also feel the general tone of being superior to other countries by Americans.

False: “New Yorkers are mean and rude.” Most of them are actually nice. I have found more New Yorkers offering seats in public transit more often than in my home country of Thailand, which is often called the “Country of Smiles.”

In what ways have you shared your own background and culture with colleagues and friends in the U.S.?

I have shared some of our interpersonal etiquette and noted how authentic Thai food should taste. People find the etiquette to be fascinating and simultaneously over the top (which I agree with). People’s taste of food is subjective, so it’s just a matter of preference.

Which part(s) of your home culture would you like to see the U.S. adopt? How would these practices benefit American culture?

It’d be nice to introduce the practice of removing shoes when indoors, as well as being a bit more humble and warm. Shoes should be removed for sanitary reasons, in my opinion. Being more humble and warm helps people to connect with other cultures much more easily.

Describe the piece(s) of U.S. culture that you want to take home with you.

I want to take back the practices of being straightforward and outspoken in my daily interactions with people. Sometimes in my culture, there is a lot of guessing what people are thinking, and quite often that leads to misunderstandings. Especially when it comes to things related to money, we often remain silent when we should speak up. Also, most people try not to complain or share when they are upset about something, and this leads to depression as well as bonding issues with their peers.

What advice would you give to someone coming to the U.S. for the first time to help them prepare?

Be considerate to others and take responsibility within your community. Especially if you are going to be in New York, there are so many rules and laws within the city that you really need to educate yourself. Also, it’s important to take care of yourself because it can be difficult to be far from home. Nobody is going to pamper you throughout your program, and you need to make sure you take care of yourself and pull your own weights. Last but not least, respect people of all ethnicities and cultures, be open-minded, and less judgmental. We are all human after all.