Tuesday, January 17

look like an American

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.

1 comment:

Terry & Barbara Glenn said...

Hi Lela, Your parents aren't the only people that read your blog. It has been fun to read some of your experiences, like eating dog! My mind is to active to do that. I wouldn't be able to look Ginger in the face again. You have had an interesting life since I saw you at Brian and Angela's wedding. Please continue your writings.
Brian's Mom or should I say Ivan's Nana