After living in Asia for 3 years, going home is a little weird. I feel like all of my sentences start with, "In Taiwan...." because it feels weird just jumping into stories that general don't make much sense when not prefaced with the country they occurred in... I always wonder whether people get suuuuper bored listening to the "in Taiwan" stories. It's kind of like mission stories, you know the ones- "Well when I was on my mission we did this", or "Have I told you about the time on my mission when...". Sorry family, this is just the way it is I suppose.
Things I'm excited for:
Getting my hair done!! I haven't had my hair cut or coloured since I was in Canada a year and a half ago and it's in desperate need of a make over. The problem is that here I have to specially request a stylist who "knows how to work with foreign hair" and sometimes they lie just to get my business, or they think they know and then it turns out they don't. Also, I just don't always know the words to describe how I want it cut, or that I don't want my bangs to start from the crown of my head like most other girls here! Did I ever tell you about the time I ended up with blue hair? Yah, it wasn't on purpose. It was supposed to be blonde highlights, ended up with giant white skunk stripes starting an inch from my roots, and when they tried to "tone it down" it came out super hero blue. The blue was only supposed to last for a day or two, but slowly faded to grey over the course of a month. Needless to say, I've had a hard time trusting people here with my hair since then.
Foooooood! Obviously I'm very excited for the food. Both home cooked and of the fast variety, I better be doing some serious yoga while I'm home so as not to return to Taiwan as a blimp. Cam and I have been missing the food back home hard the last few months. Especially as we've been trying to eat healthier and I've been taking online nutrition classes because the majority of food here is fried or greasy or just meat. We've been cooking a lot more at home lately, so that's actually been nice.
Seeing my Family and Friends! It seems like all of my cousins have had or are having babies while I've been away and I'm so happy to see all their little faces. Even my high school friends are now mamas and papas, which is always beyond weird. Am I really that old?! I was facebook chatting with a friend last night and we realized we'd seen each other once in the past 5 years! That's just way too long.
|I don't actually get see this side this time around, but I still miss them!|
Things that are weird:
When I go home, it's always a little weird. I feel pretty normal here (normal is always a relative term), but when I get home I always wonder if I seem "asian-ified", you know what I mean? Like I'm so out of the loop on pop culture, I speak Chinglish on a daily basis to the point where I actually have to stop myself from saying "Xie Xie" when in other countries, I have no idea if any of my clothes are remotely in style (my guess is probably not), and have picked up a lot of Taiwanese mannerisms. These are all good things in general because it means I've gotten the hang of the culture over here, but a little less cool when you go home and still bow slightly while handing over your business card or money with two hands.
Speaking English and being understood. I've gotten into the habit of just saying whatever's on my mind in public because 9 times out of 10, no one understands me. I used to think this was really rude when Cam would do it until I realized everyone around us was doing the same thing in Chinese. If you can't beat 'em join 'em, right? But now, I'm going to seriously have to filter myself around people because all of a sudden we speak the same language. This is also nice though, because I can now read everything on the menu and I don't have to do the smile and nod if I misunderstand someone.
Driving a car. I haven't driven a car since the last time I was in Canada. Getting back behind the wheel is both weird and completely wonderful. What?! I'm protected from the outside elements? I can listen to music? I have heat and A/C? I can make a normal left turn? What is this magical creation?!
Blending in. Also another weird yet wonderful change. As much as I love that I can sometimes play the "foreign card" in sticky situations, it will be really really nice to walk down the street or into a store and not be stared at or asked to have my picture taken or be talked about and pointed at behind cupped hands. (Honestly, just because you cover your mouth with your hand doesn't mean I don't know you're talking about me...) Ahhh to go shopping and not be followed or constantly be asked, "Are you American?" It's the stuff of dreams I tell ya.
It will be interesting to see if this last year and a half has made a difference in the way I act or behave. Last time I went home it was only for a week and was a whirlwind trip with so much visiting and back and forth that I hardly had a chance to blink before it was over. This time will be a solid 5 weeks of no real plans and hanging out! Plenty of time to notice how odd I've become living as a foreigner in another land.
Have any of you experienced a bit of reverse culture shock when visiting or returning home?
Did you bring home "odd" mannerisms ?
This post was partly inspired by Amanda over at Living in Another Language.