Things I’ve Learnt From Having An International Student & Other Life Lessons | Motley Monday


Brief rant: why can’t Britain and America just use the same spellings? Being in New Zealand, we’re taught the British way, but so much of the world is influenced by America so I often forget which is which. Hence why I had to Google learnt vs learned. (Learnt is British, and therefore the one that I’m supposed to use.)

Rant over.

On Saturday, I helped (if we say learnt, then why is helpt not a word? English, I hate you.) with the catering for a wedding. I was exhausted. I have a new appreciation for waitresses, dishwashers (the people), and people who serve tea and coffee. I learnt a lot from the experience, but mainly that I don’t want to work in that industry. Oh, and also that, despite the exhaustion and sore feet, back, and wrists, it’s quite rewarding and eye-opening. I would recommend that everyone does a similar thing at some point in their life.

But this post is not about weddings. It’s about our Thai student.

For the last ten weeks, we had a Thai student staying with us. He’s 15, and very extroverted. It was an interesting experience for my entire family. I’ve compiled a list of things that I learnt while he was staying with us.

1. You don’t have to travel to experience a different culture.
I learnt more about Thailand in those ten weeks than I had in my previous 17 years. He was the one in an entirely different country, and yet all of us got to experience a different culture. Granted, it’s nothing compared to going to Thailand itself, but it’s probably the next best thing.

2. God can work in mysterious ways.
The boy staying with us was not a Christian. He didn’t like church or Bible study at youth group. However, one day my mum heard him singing a song they’d sung in church that day (he was always singing), and on his last night, he said grace before dinner. Just little things. But who knows what could come from it?

3. Everyone is different.
Well duh. But having someone new in the house just emphasized that.

4. All cultures have similarities.
In contrast to the last point, there were things that we do here that were the same as what he did back in Thailand. It’s just interesting to see where the similarities and differences lie.

5. What we perceive as lack of intelligence may actually be a sign of intelligence.
To put it simply: his English was not the best, but that’s only because it isn’t his first language. He can speak two languages, which I certainly can’t do.

6. Everyone will do things that irritate you.
Nobody gets along perfectly. There were certainly things about him that I wasn’t sad to see leave.

7. It is possible to feel like someone is a permanent fixture in your family in just a few short weeks.
Despite my last point, all of us really enjoyed having him here, and he fitted in with our family quite well. All of us were sad to see him go.

8. Having a new person in your life makes you see things with new eyes.
Pretty self explanatory, I think. Things that were mundane or normal for us were completely new for him.

9. When someone spends a lot of time with you and your family, things that they do and say linger for a long time after they are gone.
My brother and I now say goodnight to each other in Thai. All of us will loudly exclaim “Cheating!” from time to time, which was something he did. Things like that. He may have only been a part of our family for a short time, but we won’t ever forget him.

There you go. That’s just a few things I learnt from my experiences with our student. Has anyone else ever had an experience like this? Is there anything different that you learnt? I’d love to hear about it!

Tessa Ann


2 thoughts on “Things I’ve Learnt From Having An International Student & Other Life Lessons | Motley Monday

  1. The English language- abandon hope all ye who try to understand it (especially those stuck in between the British and American ways of spelling)! This is coming from a beginning English as a Second Language tutor.

    It’s incredible, isn’t it, getting to know someone from the other end of the world (or wherever)? They come as students, but they end up being teachers as well.


    • I am in awe of anyone who can learn English as their second language. It is not something that I would be able to do. And I doubt I’d be able teach it either.

      Yes, it certainly is. I learnt way more than I thought I would.


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