These differences can be noted mainly in people’s behaviour and attitudes. However, since east and west refers to various countries and cultures scattered across the globe, only a broad generalisation can be made to compare the two cultures. The main difference between eastern and western culture is that people in the east are more traditional and conservative than the people in the west.

The following is based on my personal experiences!

In my three years of living and working abroad, I have come to notice certain characteristics due to the hundreds of teachers that pass through here in Thailand and China and to a lesser extent Vietnam.

The majority of teachers arrive here with this huge expectation of coming to have fun in the sun, doing little work and having plenty of parties! Well, this bubble gets popped mostly within the first three months!

Reality quickly sets in when they realise that it takes dedication and hard work to be a successful ESL teacher and that there is really very little time for all those “expectations”!

Some of the biggest reasons that cause them to start feeling despondent are the very attributes that are so ingrained in Western culture. The need to:

  1. Be independent
  2. Speak your mind
  3. Stand up for yourself
  4. Fight for your rights
  5. Feel superior, arrogant and cocky

To survive in the East you need to be humble and exercise restraint! You need to immerse yourself in the culture, embrace the lifestyle and adapt to the situation in your host country! Remember you are a guest in their country! If you speak to expats who have lived in Asia for more than ten years and are very happy, they would all tell you the same thing.

Asian people live and work for each other to benefit the whole population. They don’t like losing face (being embarrassed) and they don’t like people who think they are better than others. They are generally very generous and kind and expect the same from you. They’re business orientated and demand value for their money.

Therefore, you’ll need to adapt or die so to speak. You need to forget about the lifestyle you had back home and embrace a new and positive attitude. Those who have successfully done that have done very well.

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