From Samut Prakan, Thailand to Baden, Switzerland – Engaging Thailand

From Samut Prakan, Thailand to Baden, Switzerland – Engaging Thailand

Another Guest Blog kindly contributed by Trevor Bide as part of his Engaging Thailand series.

This post continues with the theme of Thai people who have made the move from Thailand to live in other countries around the world. Interview one  came from Venice in Italy. Interview two came from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina , interview three from London, England, interview four from Toulouse, France and interview five from New York, USA

Interview SIX comes from Baden, near Zurich in Switzerland.

My fascination with the interviews comes from a combination of three sources; culture, personality and experiences. My objective, with the help of my guests, is to gain insights into essentially some of the cultural differences and their stories.

Introduction of Today’s Guest

Today’s guest was born and raised in the province of Samut Prakan, Thailand and moved to Switzerland at the age of 20 years old. Having spent many years living in Switzerland in the roles of wife, Mother and business lady, Khun Chalida gives us her insights and story into life abroad. Khun Chalida still lives in Switzerland.

Introducing Khun Chalida Anu-An

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Photo Courtesy Of Chalida Anu-An

Tell us a bit more about your upbringing in Thailand, where you live in Switzerland and what first took you there?

I was born and raised in the province of Samut Prakan and I stayed here to study until the completion of high school level. As soon as I was 17 years old I moved to Fangthon, Pra Rama 2 in Bang Khae a district of Bangkok. At the age of 20 years old, I moved to Switzerland.

During childhood, Samut Prakan, Thailand was a really growing and progressing place, but now it’s very noisy. This is of course mainly due to the Suvarnabhumi international Airport being there.

My father comes from the province of Maha Sarakham in the northeast of Thailand. My Surname (Anu -An) “อนุอัน” is well known in Maha Sarakham. There’s almost one thousand people with this surname in Maha Sarakham.

I live in Ehrendingen in the district of Baden. Baden itself is located in the Zurich region and is approximately 20 minutes from Zurich. This is all situated  in the north east of Switzerland and I have lived here for 27 years already.

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Photo Courtesy Of Chalida Anu-An

I first went to Switzerland because I liked the country. Switzerland had a language and culture that was different from other countries. The important thing for me was that the Swiss are kind-hearted, patient and tolerant. These are the main reasons why I live here. Further to that, I have got used to the weather and feel it’s quite good now, my husband is Swiss and In general, this country was the best match for me.

What do you do for a living in Switzerland?

I work professionally, I studied in the field of health and wellness. I am a masseuse and am the manageress at Leelavadee Nuad Thai & Spa in Zurich.

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Photo Courtesy Of Chalida Anu-An

I also work privately a bit as well in the field of renting and selling property in the province of Aarau.

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Photo Courtesy Of Chalida Anu-An

What are your passions Chalida, what do you love to do in your free time?

In my free time I enjoy to go and drink coffee. I love to go swimming  and must have a good massage every week. I love visiting the City and traveling abroad, its profitable to life. I also love photography, I love to take photos. This I truly love.

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Photo Courtesy Of Chalida Anu-An

Do you speak German? If you speak German, how hard was it to learn the language and did it take you long to learn? Can you speak other languages?

I speak German well. I speak the Swiss German dialect just like a native speaker. Regarding as to whether it was difficult or not, then I would say it was. However, if we intend and want to study and practice the skills of speaking and writing a foreign language, then we must listen intently  and love the activity of reading.

I really like the French language and I enjoy listening to it, but I’ve never studied it. To learn the French language will be another challenge and one for the near future. At the moment, I can only speak a few sentences in French. I speak only the Swiss – German dialect language, but officially by documentation we use the German language.

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Photo Courtesy Of Chalida Anu-An

How difficult was it adjusting to Swiss life and culture from a Thai nationals point of view? What were the most difficult things to adjust to?

Is it difficult to adjust? To speak frankly, we must adjust ourselves, adjust our emotions and accept the culture somewhat. When I first arrived in 1989 the reality was not the same as the vision. It was very quiet. I arrived in the autumn month of October and it was just totally autumn fog each week. I wondered what an earth I’d arrived to.

One of the biggest problems that I came across was the local food. I was given stewed deer meat fermented in wine with mash potato, butter, boiled chestnuts and salad. I couldn’t eat this as I didn’t eat meat. The food issue was certainly difficult.

On Monday’s, I would travel on my own to study the German language. The journey itself was bad enough and that’s before the language lessons actually got started. I would get off the bus and then walk almost another kilometre. It was all up hill as well, it almost killed me. I cried for two days and at that time I wanted to return to Thailand. However, I continued to try to adjust. After all, I had come this far and was here already. I had to make it work.

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Photo Courtesy Of Chalida Anu-An

The people here don’t use English language. They can speak it, but they don’t use it with us. Going shopping was inclined to be a problem. It took me approximately 3 months to be able to converse in the language, I literally had to study and learn everything. I used money very frugally, because I wanted to continue studying. From that day until this, I have been duty bound to study and learn about the Swiss people from all angles.

Swiss people are quiet, reserved and they uphold the law. They adhere to disciplines and codes of conduct very strictly. This is different from Thai people. However, it doesn’t matter what part of the world that Thai people live, they can always adjust. Don’t you think?

Are there many other Thai nationals that you know living in your area and have they all settled well into Swiss life?

In the district where I live and adjoining area, there are approximately 400 plus Thai people. The majority are women and there are very few men. The Thai ladies have great happiness with their families and with earning a living. The majority will be house wives or work part time, but in my social circle most are full time workers or business owners.

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Photo Courtesy Of Chalida Anu-An

What are Swiss people like? Could you give me an opinion on family life, Swiss men and women through the eye’s of a Thai national?

Swiss people in general are a tranquil and contented people. They are also very economical people, they know how to use money and are extremely careful about debt. They also take care of the natural environment and surroundings.They accept and know well their responsibilities towards society, are industrious, energetic and very precise regarding time. Things that Swiss people don’t like are corruption and violence. They like honesty.

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Photo Courtesy Of Chalida Anu-An

Swiss men are very polite, well mannered, give respect and love their families. Swiss women are somewhat more talented, stronger and are much bolder than the men.

What is the cost of living like in Switzerland? What are the expensive things and what are the things of good value?

Regarding the cost of living in Switzerland, if were talking about food then it’s not expensive as there are several levels to choose from. In here we choose product types for the pure reason that they are brand names. These are expensive and extravagant. I think we need to learn to make appropriate choices according to the situation and occasion and not just purchase brand names.

Expensive

In the Zurich district where I live, everything is expensive.

Tax is expensive:  However, it’s worthwhile because it does bring development and progress to the country. It maintains education and many additional other things.

Regarding education in Switzerland; if on an adult or individual level then yes it’s expensive. My studies in the field of health cost me 30,000 Swiss Francs, but it was certainly worth it.

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Photo Courtesy Of Chalida Anu-An

Of Good Value

Real estate is very expensive, but it is of good value.

Things regarding tourism are expensive. They are extremely expensive where wellness / spas are concerned and the sport of skiing as well. Very expensive, but of value to those people that have money.  For the tourist with lower incomes they can of course experience other worthwhile priced activities.

Could you give me three things that in your opinion are great about living in Switzerland? Could you then give me three things that are not so good about living in Switzerland?

Good

The benefits of spending life in Switzerland is that it gives us patience and perseverance.

I get Swiss citizenship and am able to travel all over the world.

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Photo Courtesy Of Chalida Anu-An

I have a good and safe life, I have a great family, a terrific occupation and I can create revenue. Finally, I have security.

Not so Good

Loneliness:  I feel rather disorientated on occasions because I live in Switzerland.

Work: Time is very important as you have to be punctual and must be skilled in several aspects.

Must try and live in harmony with the surroundings and the local people always. Must keep your emotions, comments and feelings bottled up inside, unable to express yourself.

Where are your other favourite places to visit in Switzerland?

My favourite place in Switzerland to visit is Locarno. I love the weather there and me and my husband visited each year. Now, I go a few times a year as I love it.

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Photo Courtesy Of Chalida Anu-An

Do you have family still living in Thailand and what are your  favourite places to visit when you are in Thailand?

Yes, I have a warm and friendly family in Thailand and I miss them a lot. I chat with them daily on facebook though. When back in Thailand I like to keep in touch with Bangkok and Hua Hin. I like the seaside but I am allergic to salt water. I certainly enjoy going to the markets though.

What would you say were the main problems in a Thai / Swiss relationship, a relationship of the business kind and the romantic kind for instance.

There are various languages and cultures within the new generation and they appear to have several viewpoints that are incompatible with each other. This can of course cause conflict. The people who don’t speak or understand the language can feel pressured and somewhat unhappy.

Romance wise, I don’t have a problem as I am a romantic lady. I married because of love. There are those Thai people that get married purely because they want the good life. This is a marriage without love. Age and language communication also come under the category of problem possibilities. These problems become greater when there is a lack of love and understanding together.

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Photo Courtesy Of Chalida Anu-An

Some Thai women think that moving to Europe means a better life instantly.  What advice would you give Thai women that were thinking of living in Europe? What would you advise them to beware of? Could you give me 3 things for them to think about before moving overseas

I think that if we love somebody then we want to get married with that person. I wanted to be together with my husband, I never thought must have money. I wanted to live with the person I loved. That was how I thought at the time.

I wanted to have a daughter, because I like the mix of the Thai and foreign blood. I wanted to speak several languages, have work and study in a foreign country. I wanted to develop my skills as a person. This was how I generally thought. At that stage of life I was only 20 years old before I agreed to marry my husband.

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Photo Courtesy Of Chalida Anu-An

There are several types of women and I respect their ideas. Some women marry a Thai man and the then he abandons her. The woman must then raise the child or children by herself. I married a European man, therefore it’s a different choice of direction. Thai women like to pamper their man which can be different from a European woman.

In Thailand labour costs are lower and of course everybody wants to have a better life. Certainly, the requirement and desire of money is the principle reason for coming to Switzerland or Europe in general. Some people don’t desire money because at least they are able to help their families and have a better social life. Switzerland is another country that creates immense income for Thai people. Some people don’t want to come though. What do you think? That it’s certain to be Swiss currency that Thai women want? Perhaps you had better include me among them. If it comes under the category of wanting to better yourself.

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Photo Courtesy Of Chalida Anu-An

There are Thai women that want to come to Switzerland, but how can they come here? If it was 10 years ago or more then it was easier. If you had a person to guarantee you and you had status, money and a profession, plus married then in all probability you could come in.

The process to be here in the first place is to register marriage with a Swiss national, study the language and find work to do for 5 years, definitely. They are happy if you follow the steps up until you get Swiss citizenship. Further from that depends on which type of life you want to choose.

Spending life in Switzerland for me is a path that’s not been all roses. It’s been more of a journey and an everlasting battle and I’ve cried a thousand times. I’ve been disappointed and frustrated on goodness knows how many occasions. I’ve had to tolerate the weather conditions, two languages and the culture. Further from that, my husband passed away in 2007 and I had to bring up our daughter by myself. I felt totally alone and thoroughly miserable during that period.

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Photo Courtesy Of Chalida Anu-An

Life’s a dream, but our dreams can come true if we apply patience and perseverance in everything we do. So, as such, I’m totally immersed in my work and on making my living. The good life can happen if we think good, do good, save and most importantly look after our health. This for me, is genuine happiness. Genuine happiness then comes from knowing that what you have is enough. That is contentment.

Conclusion

I’d like to thank Chalida for talking with me about life in Switzerland and for allowing me to use her photographs. Having been to Switzerland, but not for a long time I know what a beautiful country it is. Visiting is one thing, but living there is totally another thing and Chalida has done that successfully for more than 27 years. She’s encountered periods of joy, happiness, frustration and sorrow, but has always strived to develop herself. Qualification in the field of health, fluency in the language, travel to new and different places and an early willingness to adapt. I particularly enjoyed the tale about the stewed deer meat with chestnuts on arrival. I know how Thai food can be missed by Thais, so this was considerably amusing to read, but somewhat of a culture shock for Chalida. Two words that Chalida uses often are patience and perseverance, these are qualities she has in abundance. Thank you Chalida.

 

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