I was scared when I first moved to Thailand, because I didn't know really what to expect. As time went on, though, I grew to love it more than any place I have ever lived. The people are beyond nice, and there is so much to do. Once, my older brother cut open his arm in a mall on a metal object. Some Thai people quickly ran to a drug store about 20 feet away and paid for disinfectants, bandages, and medical tape. All these things cost over $30.00, which is not that much to us, but it is a whole lot to them. That is not even the half of it though. The Thai people are so nice and friendly about how they talk to you, and they Wai (bow) to you when they meet you to show respect. Also, they are very understanding about foreigners who don't know how to act in the Thai culture, so they will tell you if you are doing something disrespectful so you don't do it again.
What I found hardest about living overseas was moving back. When I came back to the U.S., I was always asked some pretty silly questions. My favorite two were "Do you ride elephants to school?" and "Do the police carry swords?" I just gave a little chuckle, answered "no," and explained that Thailand is very similar to the U.S. in many ways. A lot of kids I come in contact with have never left their home state, let alone their home town, so they don't know much about other parts of the world. I never realized how little a lot of people know about the world until I experienced it first-hand and then returned to the U.S.
I thought Thailand was a culture shock, but then I moved to Nigeria at the end of 8th grade. Although I don't live there full-time, I spend 3 to 4 months out of the year there. The biggest shock to me was that I have armed guards escort my car, which is bullet proof and rocket proof. I have a bodyguard who walks with me outside the car.
The personalities of the people I have met in Africa really differ from those of the Thai people. I have met some very nice people and some very mean people. I have noticed that they can be very persistent. When they try to sell you something, they will keep trying until you drive away.
Nigeria also has terrible poverty. I recall my dad saying that he saw a job vacancy announcement posted in the paper--literally, a spot for one individual. Over 5,000 people applied for the job. No matter where I go, I see homeless people lying on the streets begging so they can buy dinner.
My dad deals with AIDS in West Africa, which is a huge problem facing Africa. One thing I have noticed is that not too many people really ask about Africa, and when they do, all they ever ask is, "Do you know people with AIDS?" All I can say is, "I don't know."
What I'm trying to get at is that the world is a lot different than many people think it is. You don't really know a place until you have been there. I never realized all the things I take for granted that people would kill for in other places. These experiences had to be the best of my life and I wouldn't change them for the world.