Porntipa, the foreign in law
Porntipa is an author from Thailand who wrote the book called The Foreign-In-Law. It describes her journey as a Thai woman who married a Finnish man. Her book gives us a personal touch about moving to a faraway land and adapting to the new country and culture—a glance at Finns and Thais' similarities and differences.
Tell us about your journey of becoming a writer?
When I studied at school, I always liked to read books and to tell fantasy/romance stories to my friends. They would keep asking me to continue telling them the stories. I loved telling stories, and my dream was to write about my life. But I didn't have time to write a book, I worked so hard, so I started to write when I moved to Finland.
What inspired you to write about a very personal story of being a daughter in law?
When I moved to Finland, I saw a very different culture here compared to my country. I wanted to let people know about my culture. I moved here, and I saw the freedom to write, and I wanted to tell people how I adapt to my life in Finland. I also wanted to bring up the importance of Thai people abroad to utilize their right to vote and be heard when it comes to matters regarding our home country.
How do you get along with your Finnish mother-in-law? What have you learned from her, and what has she learned from you?
She is terrific, very kind, and she loved me. I brought my son here; she welcomed my son and me. She tried to learn my culture, she was very respectful, this is very important. She saw that I had many talents, and she was delighted and proud of me. I also learned many things from her; for example, she sings very beautifully.
Very different, because Thai men want the wife to follow them and they don't give freedom. My husband gave me the freedom to fulfill my dreams and follow my heart. I also find that Finnish men have more respect for women.
What advice do you give to future daughters-in-law that moved to Finland?
You have to study the Finnish language. I worked as a chef for several years, I worked, and I used the English language at work because I didn't have time to learn Finnish. But it is necessary first to learn Finnish when moving here and get to know about Finnish laws, rules, etc.; this is important.
What about future mothers-in-law that have a foreign daughter-in-law?
You have to learn about the culture first; it is essential. This is very supportive when you have just moved here and felt lonely and know about each other's cultures.
You also talked about being a parent. What is the difference/similarities in raising a child who moved here and raising children born here?
The main difference is that the child who moved here is usually more obedient and respectful, simply because that’s how children are raised in Thailand, to be extremely respectful towards adults and never talk back. Whereas children born in Finland, while they are respectful, they are free of certain restrictions and you have to use reason with them more. Also, the schools here are excellent compared to the ones in Thailand.
Tell us about Finnish men? What are the similarities and differences between Thai men?
Very different, because Thai men want the wife to follow them and they don't give freedom. My husband gave me freedom to fulfill my dreams and follow my heart. I also find that Finnish men have more respect for women.
You mentioned Finnish cuisine in your book. What are your favorite Finnish dishes? What should we know about Thai cuisine?
Yes, Finland changed my life. Before I moved here, I didn't know much about politics because the media decided what to say to people and they didn't always tell the truth. There was a lot of censorship. But here, there is freedom of speech, and we can fact-check here, and it is a correct system different from Thailand. Another thing that changed in me is that my husband taught me how to save money. I used to buy a lot of food, but my husband teaches me how to save and not throw away food.
There are over 450 pages in the book. What was the process of writing the book?
I wrote the book chapter by chapter, initially in Thai language. After that, we translated the book into English. My husband, my son, and my brother all helped me. You can buy the book online in English or Thai.
Now that you have lived in Finland for a long time. How has it changed you?
Yes, Finland changed my life. Before I moved here, I didn't know much about politics because the media decided what to say to people and they didn't always tell the truth. There was a lot of censorship. But here, there is freedom if speech, and we can fact-check here, and it is a correct system different from Thailand. Another thing that changed in me is that my husband teached me how to save money. I used to buy a lot of food, but my husband teaches me how to save and not throw away food.
What is your Thai family's reaction to your living-abroad story?
They are proud of me, and they respect me. All of us may not always see eye to eye when it comes to politics, but we will always have love for each other cause we’re family.
What was the biggest challenge you went through while writing your book until the end when you published it, or afterward?
At first, I was worried because I wrote quite a bit about the political situation in Thailand. But in the end, everything turned out fine and the book was very well received.
Would you like to share with us any inspiring message, story, or experience?
I'm proud to be able to write this book. It has always been a dream to write and convey my thoughts and experiences to my fellow Thais abroad and I feel like I have achieved that. I am also very happy to have had part in encouraging Thai people to speak up and let their voices be heard. Follow your dreams no matter the challenges and don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe.