Well, since I have been in Texas, where my parents live, I haven't been updating this blog. I think my parents are the main ones who read it, so I haven't been too motivated. Maybe I don't have as much material, since I'm back in the States, or maybe I have even more, but just don't know how to process it. So, now, what should I write to you about? I just got back from California where I met up with many of the people I got to know in China last summer. It honestly felt like I was back in China, so much so that I sometimes referred to China as "here" instead of "there." The last night I was in LA, I went to a dinner where there was a gathering of Koreans. I sat at a table with one Korean family and talked with them a little in Korean. (I wish I could say we talked a lot, but my inhibitions are too high.) The mom was telling me that my Korean was really good, which (I've probably said this before) usually means you can say a few more words than "hello" and "thank you." Since there aren't a large number of non-Koreans who speak Korean, they compliment readily. Anyway, the mom looked at her daughter who was maybe 5 years old and said "doesn't she speak Korean well?" and the daughter looked at me and said, "you look like an American!" I smiled and told her that I was. That was definitely the highlight of the evening for me.
The transition in coming back home wasn't hard for me this time. Well, I don't think I've ever had a hard transition back to the States, but I feel like I have had less "wow, America is strange" moments than in previous trips back here from abroad. This lack of strange moments has prompted me to think about why I don't feel strange on this visit. Maybe I'm more used to visiting and I just don't compare cultures anymore. Maybe there's a more profound reason that I'm missing.
I bought my first Starbucks coffee today in more than a year. Cinnamon dolce latte. It was super tasty, but not worth the more than 4 bucks I paid for it. Why do Americans and growing parts of the rest of the world pay that much for coffee? Why did I today? I was at the airport, didn't have another coffee source nearby, wanted one, and had the money. I don't exactly feel guilty about it, but I don't think I'll buy many more of those. I thought about what that same amount of money would buy in Yanji. About 32 yuan would buy dinner for one at an upscale restaurant, a filling dinner for three at a cheap restaurant, 10 trips to the school cafeteria if you're a student, or eight trips if you're a teacher, 32 roasted squid sticks on the street, 32 bus rides, a month of electricity in my school apartment, three trips to the nice gym in the middle of town, or three trips to a nice sauna/bathhouse. It was really good coffee, though.