I am not trying to discourage anyone from trying to learn a second or third language but learning another way to communicate is a rewarding challenge. I will try to explain the process I had to go through the first year I lived in the United States. I do not think that everyone's experience is the same, but I am sure that there are some similarities when I think about what our Thai lab mates have experienced and are currently overcoming.
First you are self-conscious about every sentence you formulate; naturally you start thinking in your native language and try to translate. By the time you realize you are doing this, the person you are talking to already finished their statement. Now you have to translate what they have said, process it, formulate a response in your native tongue, translate it to English, and hope it makes perfect sense. As if it does not sound complicated enough, there is a possibility that you start speaking in your primary language.
When we arrived to Chiang Mai University I was nervous about the language barrier, but the feeling of awkwardness and shyness went away by the third day. My lab mates realized that as the guest in their lab, I would try my hardest to explain myself and to learn as much Thai as I possibly can. Since we were accepted in the SMRT program we were given the chance to work in a laboratory thousands of kilometers away from home, and to take advantage of the opportunity to learn a new language. I could not be more grateful for all the effort and dedication my lab mates have shown towards this farang (Thai word for a foreigner or tourist). .
I have a deeper understanding and appreciation for what our Thai host are going through. I encourage everyone that is reading this post to learn another language because it opens many doors for you.