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From USA to Thailand: Curly Wanderer

30 October, 2017 08:00  Erin Erin

Curly WandererMy name is Kate and I’m an American currently living in Bangkok, Thailand. I’m also the writer and photographer behind

1. Why did you move abroad?
My company offered me an opportunity to work in one of our Region offices. Since I was already keen on the idea of living abroad, not just traveling to places, I jumped on it. A year later I moved to Thailand for a different role.

2. How do you make a living?
I work for a large multi-national corporation (MNC). I began with them eight years ago in the US headquarters after completing my MBA and have now moved to three different countries so far.

3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I call my family a couple times a month on the weekends - usually for hour+ long conversations. I keep up with my friends through a combination of phone, Skype, and texts throughout the week.

4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Thailand?
One of the things I adore about life in Thailand is the creative environment. Although my work is in a very traditional business discipline and quite analytical, life in Thailand has given me a wonderful opportunity to deeply engage my creative side. I’ve joined photography groups here, gotten to know many of the wonderful independent camera shops, and met a number of artists ‘hiding out’ and living the good life on the relatively low cost of living in South East Asia. Plus, Thailand is known for it’s artisans, and the entire culture embraces design and creativity which shows in the culture, restaurant scene, independent book sellers, malls, etc.

5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Thailand?
I hate to sound cliche, but dating is definitely one of the biggest challenges. Especially for single Western women (most Western men seem to be quite content with the scene.) And perhaps associated with this is that Thailand isn’t one of the top locations for corporate expats, so it took me much longer to find people in Bangkok with a similar life and schedule of free time.

6. What do you miss most?
Friends and family. Everything else I can find here in Thailand. I’m more worried about what I’ll miss from my life in Thailand after I leave.

7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
Many of the things I tried in the US and Singapore didn’t work in Thailand, so it definitely took some time to get settled here. The biggest advice I can offer a newcomer to Thailand is to accept that pretty much everything happens in person, face to face. Therefore, it’s even more important here to try out a dinner club, photography group, gym, etc first hand because the odds are that the website or meet up group won’t give you much of a feel for things. This also applies to everything from grocery stores to frame shops. Get a personal recommendation and try it in person. Or just wander and explore things first hand for yourself. I’ve met people through photography, and also found some incredible female friends through speaking opportunities for my job.

8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
I was caught by surprise by how much my team adored pasta. They often want to go to lunch for Italian. Of course it’s much, much spicier than what I’m used to!

9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
It seems like many (Westerners mostly) think Thailand is more of a tourist economy than a mature business environment. But in addition to a long-standing reputation for excellent artisans (which has led to global recognition in the jewelry market) there are major high tech and manufacturing businesses here too. In addition, many entrepreneurs choose Thailand due to it’s accessibility and relatively low cost of living. Which creates a very dynamic business environment. Bangkok itself, while wild at times, is a major international metropolitan city with nearly all the opportunities of any European or American city. There is no doubt that it’s different, but it’s not the third world some might believe.

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?
The cost of living in Thailand is much lower than Singapore. Among other things, this has given me a bit more of a travel budget as well as more cushion for savings and the ability to enjoy an excellent meal without having to budget as strictly.

11. What advice would you give other expats?
Finding your way in Bangkok is more old school than new school. Personal recommendations, getting to know shopkeepers, and creating a network of people (especially locals) who can help guide you is critical. Although Bangkok is a very modern city, it’s not one you can easily research remotely. Be patient, but also - enjoy the exploration and the benefits of so much connection! I now have shop owners who call me personally when interesting photography equipment arrives, and it’s relatively easy to have everything customized exactly how you want because of that personal connection. We know the owners of our favorite Mexican restaurants and it’s great to It’s incredible once you’re used to it, so try to hang in there and explore to find what’s best for you.

Curly Wanderer 12. When and why did you start your blog?
The blog began mostly for my friends and family on my travels, especially since many of my family will never come to Asia due to the distance. But the more I talked with my friends, the more I realized I also had a less common experience as a corporate expat woman in Asia. So I wanted to add another voice on this kind of opportunity.

Blog LinkKate's blog, Curly Wanderer


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