Sunday, June 9, 2013

Traffic of Life

Greetings from Thailand! My name is Laura Cribb and I am a senior undergraduate student pursuing a degree in music therapy from the Florida State University. I decided to study abroad in Thailand because I love to travel, I have a passion for learning about other cultures, and I hope to use music therapy with international refugee populations in the future. 
One aspect of culture that I always find intriguing in any country I visit is the traffic. In the United States we are accustomed to a strict set of rules that direct how and where we drive. However, in many other countries I’ve visited there are less severe traffic regulations. Such is the case in Thailand. 

Here in Thailand I rarely see traffic lights or speed limit signs. Everyone drives as fast as they can and then slams on their breaks when changing lanes. Nevertheless, I barely ever hear the sound of horns beeping. Whether they are riding in a van, a taxi, a tuk-tuk, or a motorcycle, Thai drivers help each other out.
 Things that we would become aggravated about in the United States, like cutting in front of another car, are frequent occurrences while driving in Thailand. Even so, the Thais do not become irritated with the shifting traffic. I have personally discovered many parallels between the Thai attitude while driving and their approach to life. 
            The main word that comes to mind to describe the driving style of Thais is considerate. I see the consideration that Thais have for each other, as well as for “farang” (foreigners), not only while on the road, but also wherever we go. The kindness of the Thai people is constantly apparent through their smiles and willingness to welcome us to their country. During my time here I have had random people come up to me and ask me how I am doing or where I am from. The people in this country exude respect to everyone.
            There are many differences between the Thai and American cultures. In Thailand we often take off our shoes before entering a room. I have eaten rice for a meal at least once a day. Instead of greeting with a handshake, Thais greet each other with a gesture called a wai. One difference that has clearly stood out to me is the compassion and consideration that the Thais have for others. In life, we all go through easy times and we all go through difficult times. Sometimes we let the bad moments of life affect the way we treat others. Sometimes the perspectives we have about life become skewed. I have learned to constantly keep my perspectives in check during my time in Thailand. Like the considerate Thai drivers, in life we should help others out and treat others with kindness. A smile and a thoughtful inquiry can go a long way! 

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