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Frei: Frei's Days

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in Thailand makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Thailand, etc.

Hi! I’m Frederiek – but better known as Frei in this part of the world, as the pronunciation of my name can be a tricky one, this gave me the nickname Frei ever since I lived in Asia.

I come from Holland where I studied Hospitality Management at the Hotel School The Hague. Here I caught the travel bug while doing two internships abroad, and found the love of my life. He got a job offer in Singapore in 2007; I followed him there and ever since we’ve lived in South East Asia. After Singapore we had a 3.5-year stint in Ho Chi Minh City and we’ve been living in Phuket since September 2013.

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

I always loved writing; ever since I can remember I left notes and long letters for my family. And after that I started writing with pen pals. I enjoyed writing down my thoughts and letting people know how I was doing. During my internships overseas, I wrote a blog for the people back home. These blogs died a pretty quick death whenever I came home as I thought I did not have any exciting stories to tell – I was too busy with school or work and just did not think my Dutch life would be interesting enough. Once we moved overseas, I tried to start with another blog, but life and work got in its way.

In Phuket, for the first time since we moved overseas, I was unable to find a job. So I finally got time to work on a blog, and so 'Frei's days' was finally created. I love being able to write down my thoughts and experiences, and I like the interaction on the blog and on social media with people from totally different parts of the world.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

My favorite posts are the ones that give an insight in my life abroad:

Tell us about the ways your new life in Thailand differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?

Obviously life in Phuket differs a lot from that in Holland – not only the weather but everything from transportation to the way we do our groceries. As we’ve been living in South East Asia for the past years, I have not really experienced a culture shock here in Thailand.

However the fact that I am unable to work is a big change and makes life difficult sometimes. For instance meeting people – you really have to put yourself out there. There are no office functions or networking drinks where you get to know other people. So this can get difficult at times as I am a real peoples person…

All in all life is more affordable here than back home in Holland, and therefore I think the quality of life is better here. We’re able to travel more and in a way enjoy life more.

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Thailand? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

Yeah I think I was pretty well prepared. I had lived on an island before, so I knew this would be totally different then the crazy hectic life in Ho Chi Minh City, or Singapore for that matter. Besides that we had been in Phuket before, and traveled around Thailand as well. So we knew what we were getting ourselves into…

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

When we lived in Ho Chi Minh City I thought it would be a great idea to learn Vietnamese. Not only to get to know some people in class, but also to get around town and do some grocery shopping as most of the stuff we bought was purchased on the market. After a while I got the hang of things – keep in mind that the Vietnamese language has 6 tones! – and went to markets and talked in Vietnamese. This was always a hilarious situation, as I guess my tonal pronunciation wasn’t up to par.

But the weirdest thing happening was when I would go with my Singaporean friend. Whenever we would want to bargain and buy something, the people would start talking to her, but she could only say “cảm ơn” {Thank you}, and we tried to explain that I was the one who was able to speak Vietnamese.  After a while we realized they did not get the fact that the Asian lady couldn’t speak Vietnamese, so we decided that I would be standing behind her like a puppet master, I would speak Vietnamese but they would see her instead of seeing me. All of a sudden they were able to understand what we wanted. It was the weirdest thing ever…

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Thailand?

  • Learn Thai! The Thai are a very tolerant people and are super friendly, however there is a language barrier that makes it difficult to interact with the local people. As Thailand has never been under a foreign reign, they have never had the need to talk a different language than their own, and they are very proud of this. They are very open to teaching you their language, however their English skills are not great. For this reason it makes life a lot easier if you have the basics down.
  • Explore! Get to know the culture of your new home. It’s really great to understand a new culture. Why do the people honk when passing by a temple? How do they celebrate their New Year, and what is the reason they throw with water? By knowing the answers to these questions you get to know the people and the country in a totally different way.
  • Travel! Whether you’re on the other side of the world, or just a couple of countries from your home country, make sure to travel as much as you can. It will be a once in a lifetime opportunity so make sure to enjoy it to the fullest! 

How is the expat community in Thailand? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

The Phuket expat community is different than for instance Bangkok. First off it’s an island and not a huge city with millions of people. Besides the tourist industry there are no other industries that operate here. Most of the expats that live here are therefore in the same industry, and that’s nice as everyone is in the same boat. People work on weekends, make long hours and most of the trailing spouses are unable to find a job... Secondly the island is pretty big, and therefore is divided into areas where people will meet each other, but there is not really a place where everyone gets together.

Due to these reasons it can be pretty difficult to get to know people. However with the help of Chicky Net – a social network for expat women in Thailand – and InterNations it gets easier to meet new people!

How would you summarize your expat life in Thailand in a single, catchy sentence?

Living life to the fullest, while enjoying the wonderful beaches and fresh air! 

Martin Beck

"I've been looking for a shop where to buy German food here in Bangkok. Fellow expats on InterNations finally told me how to find the right stores."

Helen Laidboe

"It' such a a pity that we have to leave Bangkok soon. I'll miss the InterNations expat community so much, especially the great events!"

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