Friday, January 03, 2014

25 Signs You Went to an International School

I was born and raised in the United States, but when I was 14 I moved to Thailand and was sent to Ruamrudee Internatioal School. Since then I’ve come across a lot of “You know you were an international school kid if…” emails and posts. Here is a selection of the ones I can relate to.

1. You never learned to do regular chores like laundry, cooking, or ironing. 
This I pretty true. I had live in maids (yes, plural). And a cook, and a driver. I didn’t do laundry because my maids did them. Our cook either made us food or bought food for us daily from the local market. I had a driver for when I needed to go somewhere or took a taxi. Driving your own car to prom and not getting chauffeured was the cooler way to go. 

2.You don’t understand why you can’t jaywalk.
Okay, so living in the Southern California for most of my life, I get this one, but when I was in Thailand, it was the quickest way to cross a street. Sometimes, it was the only way.

3. You get disproportionately excited when you meet someone from the same country as you.
There is nothing like having someone who gets your cultural references.

4. You learn to accommodate for the fact that your hair dried differently in different countries.
Another truth. My hair dries far more quickly here in Southern California than it did back in Thailand. Sometimes it would take my hair hours to dry in Bangkok because of the humidity.

5. You miss having been “legal” for at least 6 years when you first get to college. What is the law?
I started drinking alcohol when I was 15. I probably could have done it sooner, but it didn’t occur to me try. I bought bottles of whisky at 7-11s, bars, clubs, etcetera and no one batted in eye. We weren't sneaking out to do this. There, it was socially acceptable. I asked a police officer to light my cigarette when I was 15 and he didn’t flinch. He just happily obliged. It was a different time and a different place. 

6. You’ve been graded down for spelling the British way instead of the American way (or vice versa).
Color/colour. Since I grew up in the U.S. and RiS was an American curriculum based school, this wasn’t much of an issue, but I did have instructors who studied or were train in the British system and occasionally this was an issue.

7. You blamed American obesity on their huge portion sizes.
Growing up in the US, I’m pretty much accustomed to the portion sizes here. The only time I would notice how big our portion sizes where was when friends from outside the country would visit and comment on it.

8. The image every else has of your country is 99% wrong.
Okay, maybe not 99%, more like 80%. This goes for both stereotypes about U.S. and Thailand. I’d tell you the tale, but that’s an entirely different post.

9. You hear people complaining about traveling and you think to yourself “12 hour flight? Only?”
It took at about 20 hours to travel to Thailand or back the U.S. taking in consideration flight time and layovers. 12 hours is nothing. NOTHING.

10. You can honestly say you have friends from all over the world.
Yup, I have friends from every continent except Antarctica – that I’ve met IN PERSON, not just online.

11. It doesn’t phase you when you overhear conversations in different languages.
Living in Southern California, this didn’t phase me to begin with, but walking 50 feet down the school hallway would expose me to at least 6 different language.

12. Missing school to get a visa or passport is normal.
I’ve only had to do this once, missing school to get my passport renewed, but it was as common as getting a cold.

13. You can’t answer the question “where are you from?”
I’m from the U.S., but I have plenty of friends who have trouble answering this question. They have moved from country to country from the time they were babies.

14. You speak two or more languages
I can only think of two people from my entire time in international school who only spoke one language. Everyone was, at least, bilingual. Many people were trilingual and there were a few who spoke 4 or more.

15. You flew before you could walk.
Well, I don't know if this is true or not, I can't remember that far back, but I'm sure my first plane trip was around that time.

16. You have a time zone map and an international calling card next to your telephone.
Yup. Sort of. These days I use an app on my phone to tell me the time difference and we Skype each other.

17. You realize it really is a small world after all.
I knew it was small world two week into attending RIS. We were in line for assembly when I saw someone I thought I knew from the U.S. “James Wong?” I asked him? "Yes." It was someone I had gone to elementry school with in California - over 8000 miles away.

18. Your high school memories include those days that school was cancelled due to bomb threats, tear gas, riots, demonstrations, or flooding.
It was flooding for me.

19. You have a name in at least two different languages and it’s not the same one.
In the U.S. most people know me as Grace. In Thailand, most people know me as (Gade Gaaw).

20. You automatically take off your shoes as soon as you get home.
Frankly, I didn’t think this was because I was an international school school kid, but because I was Thai and we don’t wear shoes in the house.

21. You and your highs school friends can speak in a different language to each other when you don’t want anyone to listen.
Most of my friends both speak both English and Thai and so we tend to speak a hybrid of both to each. Most of the time this isn’t because I don’t want anyone to understand us, it’s because some words just fit more accurately in another language. This also brings us to the fact that we also speak in many different broken languages when we're drunk. 

22. At least one of your friends had diplomat parents. 
I had two.

23. Class reunions are not at your school - not even on the same continent. 
I went to a class reunion once. It was in Anaheim, CA, nowhere near Bangkok Thailand.

24. You have unreasonable strong opinions about different airports. 
Naritia. I can never figure out my way in that place.

25. When you talk to non-international school kids you realize how ridiculous the stuff you got to do at school was.
Sometimes I'll tell people about the stuff I did in high school and I'm pretty sure my non-international school friends don't believe me. 

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