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Don’t Be So Serious in Thailand

Are you a serious kind of person? Well, you may have some rough going if you chose to move to Thailand. In the Land of Smiles, a friendly person will always be more welcomed than a serious person. Anyone who has spent time working in the Kingdom will tell you this, especially expat English teachers. Foreign teachers in Thailand often are told by their Thai colleagues not to be so serious. The same goes for other types of professionals working with Thais — although the admonition about being serious is more frequently toward English teachers (probably because so many young foreign teachers are filled with idealism and have visions of remaking the Thai education system).

It is confusing to a farang to be told not to be serious when they view seriousness as part of being a dedicated professional. The reason Thais say not to be serious involves a couple things. Most Thai people do NOT equate being “serious” as being committed and dedicated. They view it more as being stressed and overly concerned about things you cannot change or have no control over. So, when your Thai colleague tells you not to be serious, they are saying chill out and don’t be a stress monkey because it doesn’t help and is just going to stress out the rest of us too.

Secondly, Thai people have been around the village block a few more times than you. They understand that the pace of change in Thailand is slow. This can disillusion the dedicated Thai teacher and professional just as much as it does you. But those Thais who successfully manage their disillusionment don’t do it by getting serious or stressed out but simply by doing their best and letting nature take its slow and meandering course.

Now, let’s turn to today’s learn Thai language lesson with the Thai word for serious and a few beers thrown in for good measure.

Serious adj. – เครียด – khrîat
You don’t have to be serious. I brought beer!
ไม่ ต้อง เครียด นะ  ฉัน เอา เบียร์ มา แล้ว
Mâi dtâwng khrîat ná. Chăn ao bia mah láeo.
[Not must serious (soften). I take beer come already.]

Learn Thai Language Tip: While the traditional Thai word for serious is khrîat (เครียด), it is common these days to also hear the English loan word see-rîat (ซีเรียส). The fact that these two words rhyme with each other can help you remember them. In the above Thai language lesson, note that “brought” is expressed by putting the thing that you have brought (in this case, beer) between the Thai words for take (ao) and come (mah).

Want more tips? Go to this post about what is the best way to learn Thai.