Two weeks down and a whole lot of house-hunting, negotiating, learning and training has seen us all exhausted but it has been exciting and very rewarding.
One thing that was touched on in training was managing expectations, which has become all too true recently for a fellow volunteer. A misunderstanding, break-down of communication and differing expectations for both parties has seen a negotiation turn sour.
Unfortunately this is rather common for those of us not used to the quirks of South East Asia.
We quickly became accustomed to the concept of Thai-time whilst living in Chiang Mai. 6PM can quite easily mean 7, Wednesday becomes Friday and next week roughly translates to some-time-next-month!
Of course there were exceptions to this rule. Never have I had my Internet connected so quickly and painlessly (within 3 days, and this was the norm!).
Having expectations that everything will be perfect on the agreed date is something westerners have become accustomed to so it’s easy to assume things will be the same here because it’s all written and signed in blue ink. But that is where we often fall afoul.
Things get done in South East Asia, sometimes with great efficiency. It may not be to your agreed timing but the best you can do is smile and accept that nothing more can be done.
It is better to save-face for everyone than to get flustered and angry over something that is out of your control.
Our expectations can be marred by assumptions held by both parties but not spoken of until its too late. Unspoken rules and processes that routinely take place back home may be vastly different here. Be prepared for the unexpected and try to be flexible and understanding about differences, setbacks or misunderstandings. But above all be polite about it!
If something is not to your liking then the first thing you should do is inform the other party politely and with a smile. Even if you are completely in the right and the other party knows it, the last thing you should do is get visibly upset about it. A smile will go a long way to getting your problem resolved.
Expectations can be a funny thing. Expect to be surprised, expect to be amazed or even expect to be occasionally disappointed. Just make sure you learn to manage your expectations whilst in South East Asia and you’ll have a fantastic time!