It was Facebook that reminded me that the milestone had passed. Otherwise, I’m sure I would have continued to scroll past this moment, drinking my coffee and eating my banana.
I posted, “I signed up for Intensive Thai, but based on my photo (with my application) I was enrolled in Intensive English instead.”
Now, normally, I’d write a long post about what these 7 years overseas has meant to me, what I’ve learned, etc., but after deciding that I hated half of what I wrote, I’ve settled on writing a list post, in an effort to stir up the punch, so to speak, and force me to distill my years abroad into one tasty beverage.
- Being asked, upon hearing that I’m from Hawaii, “Are you from Hawaii China?”
- Always being asked, “Where are you from?” And almost always being started at, despite looking Asian living + traveling in Asian countries.
- Quickly learning how to say in Thai, “My mother is Thai and my father is Chinese, but I was born in Hawaii and I’m American”.
- Watching locals light up upon hearing I’m part Thai and Chinese.
- Having a Chinese Bible thrust under my nose in a park in Cuenca, Ecuador followed by my British friend’s laughter as she looked on.
- Being taunted on the streets of Cuenca by teenage boys yelling, “Konichiwa,” as I walk briskly home in the dark.
- Overhearing Thais say, “She speaks really good English,” after leaving a red taxi truck in Chiang Mai.
- Realizing that America has its own set of rules, constructs and artificial realities, and recognizing that culture is invisible.
- Attempting to see what is assumed.
- Seeing my mom on her home turf, connecting with her through her native language, and (hopefully) understanding her a little more.
- Getting out of comfort zone, regularly.
- Making friends from all over the world, living and working in an International environment, and being that Annoying American trying on her British accent.
- Having successful (and unsuccessful) interactions with locals using their language. Really having to rely on what I’ve retained and my creativity to navigate my way around (e.g. avoiding meltdowns).
- Learning to be more patient because that’s the way things are on this side of the world…
Growth + goals garnishes
- Living a life that is much closer to how I want to live, through part time work, play and pursuing my passions.
- Finishing that damn memoir, my first book, after years of carrying it around the United States.
- Working on my second book with all its ups and downs of self-doubt peppered with excitement.
- Blogging consistently, writing every day for me, not losing sight of the dream.
- Successfully conquering my fear of driving a motorbike, but definitely not how traffic moves in SE Asia.
- Eating food that I once thought was gross, terrifying, weird and too different.
- Kicking my fears and failures in the gut by getting back into teaching. Namaste. Amen. Big hug for me.