06 June 2012

terrible, awful, awkward, and just plain awesome.

because you know you love those kind of stories right?

because this is the awkwardness i feel then things like this happen to me...
This post is a long time coming but it's not always easy admitting all the ridiculously funny and embarrassing things you say and do.  But for the benefit of everyone and to lift people's spirits, I've decided to share. I'll definitely say that being overseas and learning a new language and culture will just humble you to the max.  It will throw you right off that little pedestal you had yourself on and you'll find yourself on the ground.  One thing I know for sure is that if you can't laugh at yourself then you don't need to move overseas because you will mess up, fail, and embarrass yourself more than a few times and you just have to learn to laugh about it.

Let's begin with the worst or the terrible, awful as I like to call it...

A month or two ago our friend, Dang, invited us to go to visit his work.  He works at a ministry that shares the Gospel in schools around Thailand.  As we were leaving, Dang was teaching us the phrase "God bless you" in Thai.  Well, when I heard it I thought it sound like a word in English so I repeated back what I thought I heard.  Then this awkward moment happened where the Thai people's eyes got all big and Dang politely told me that what I said was wrong, but they didn't really make any kind of big deal about it.  Later that night we are hanging out and I think I hear Dang tell his roommates the story of what I said, but I could only make out a little here and a little there.  So that gets me thinking that it probably was a bigger deal than I think but Thai people are just really nice and wouldn't want to call you out.  A few days later I decide to ask my friend, who lived in America for a while so she knows whats up, if she could tell me what I really said.  I told her and she literally screamed, doubled over, and told me she was blushing up to her ears.  Not exactly the reaction I was looking for!  She then tells me what it means and all the while is super embarrassed from saying it.  Then I go to my Thai-English dictionary just to make sure of how it is said so under no circumstance do I say it again and right there in parenthesis it says (extremely vulgar).  So basically I unknowingly said a highly offensive word.  (Now I know what you're thinking. What is the word, but to be proper I will spare you all from it.  Just know on a scale of 1-10 of being offensive, its an 11)  And what is the worst part about it?  I said it in the same sentence that I said the word "God" and to a group of people I just met.  Awesome.  I mean probably one of the most embarrassing things I've ever done but now I will always be able to laugh about it.

Then there are like 4 other words which are very similar in sound to this terrible, awful word!  I mean who does that, who makes several others words sound just like a super vulgar one?  So I live in constant  fear of saying those words and I often in class refuse to say them.

And I wish I could say that was the only thing, but it isn't.

I also successfully managed to say s*** to our Thai friend when studying the word for banana.

Before the Songkran holiday(see this post to learn about it) we had a substitute teacher one day in class.  She was talking about traditional Songkran and how the Thais would take a bowl of water and add in perfume and flowers before they blessed others with it.  It is a very sacred and old tradition.  I had recently learned the word for perfume so I thought I would be all awesome and say it, but instead I said "bathroom" because hey the words sound the same.  So basically I said they pour the bathroom water into the bowl of their most sacred ceremonies.  Our teacher lost it for at least 5 minutes.

The first week or so we were here we went to a retreat with our church and I really wanted to learn some Thai songs afterwards.  One of my friends wrote out how each word sounded to certain song and gave it to me so I could practice.  Well I started singing it and would go up to all my friends and sing it to them.  Come to find out like 3 weeks later that I was totally singing the wrong tune to the song.  I was confusing two completely different songs and my Thai friends were just too nice to tell me.  What is that?  After I go up to everyone thinking I'm all cool knowing a Thai song and it was completely wrong.  Humbled...yes.

One day in class our book 2 teacher was talking about dancing or shoulders or something like that so just being myself I stood up and literally did like a 1-2 second dance.  I mean I barely even moved my body and she completely lost it.  Full out giggles for like 5 minutes.  She could not even contain herself and I had to get class back on track because she was unable to get it together.  Now when she sees me she will randomly ask me to dance just to make her laugh.  Oh the joy you can so unintentionally bring to others!

Another day we were learning the word for stop (for cars, buses, taxis, etc.)  Well in our language class we use the phonetic alphabet to learn the words until we learn the Thai alphabet.  In phonetics the written "c" is the "j" sound. The word for stop is "cot".  And its very hard to train your brain to say a "j" sound when you see a "c".  So I was practicing what I would say to a taxi driver and instead of saying "cot" I said "khot" which means hug.  Basically I was talking about being in a taxi and telling the taxi driver I wanted a hug.  My teacher thought that was hilarious and now we always joke about randomly asking the taxi drivers for hugs.

So those are just a few of the word vomits (as I like to call them) that I've had since I've been here and they will not be the last!  I guess if I can bring someone joy by making them laugh at my mistakes then that's cool with me.


  1. Great stories Jen! Praying for you and the crew there this morning. It sounds like you are doing well and learning lots. Janet is excited to see you in July (hopefully). Have a great day! Gabe

  2. This is great Jen! We were just talking the other day to some people about Thai and how some words sound exactly alike and the only difference is tone. Hilarious! Good to hear you are still being yourself though and making those timid Thai's laugh! Keep it up! Corey