“Sorry Mrs. Jackson!…I never meant to make your daughter cry I apologize a…”
Not going to lie, pretty proud of my title. Yesterday I tried Vietnamese Pho for the first time. I had been very skeptical because 1) I was getting hangry (angry due to hunger) 2) we were going the street food route to get this Pho. However, even in lieu of all my skepticism, the dish hit the spot. Or perhaps I should say bowl. Essentially it consists of a broth with cilantro (or basil??) a meat, rice noodles (I think), and things like bean sprouts. It’s actually a really well balanced meal.
While we were deciding what to get an english speaking man walked up to our group and started chatting us up. He was SO kind and advised on what to get, and where. His name was Danny and he moved to Taiwan from the states about 10 years ago. He tutors (or something like that..) and runs a restaurant on the weekends. Due to his excellent advice on which street food to eat I’m really curious to try his restaurant’s stuff.
So, “Are you PHO real” has two parts to it. Yes, Pho was a great experience but I have been going back and forth in my head the last few days about if I will choose to blog here about any more difficult or trialing experiences. I know family/friends are reading (at least some) of these, and I don’t really want to concern anyone if something difficult were to come up, but at the same time, I think that the difficult moments are important. I don’t think this is all going to be warm fuzzy moments and I think the difficult moments provide the most growth. Because then, in 10 months I can look back and see how much I’ve changed or grown. Before I came here I sought out a friend of mine that just finished a Fulbright in Thailand. One of his biggest pieces of advice was that “There are going to be low lows, and high highs, and just try to ride the highs as long as you can.”
So, last week was my first hard spot. Basically I’ve really been missing my friends from Emory. I recognized as graduation grew near that I had an exceptional friend circle and that we, as a group, were unusually supportive and wonderful but I didn’t account for how difficult it would be to function without them in a different country, eating things I don’t recognize and operating in a world that is distinctly different from my own.
A group of the ETA’s went biking over the weekend; it was SO incredibly beautiful, and it was a wonderful experience. Beforehand a couple of the ETA’s were talking and somehow I think we started talking about culture shock. Out of Chinese and African studies at Emory, I liked African studies better. I love African culture(s). I love it. I don’t necessarily love Asian culture like I love African culture. Maybe it is because I have had such a difficult and drawn out language learning experience with Chinese. Maybe it’s because I haven’t met the right people, or gone the right places. (I do have to say that Taiwan is already growing on me.) But anyway, this other ETA asked me, “Do you feel uncomfortable here?” and it was so interesting because the first thing that popped in my mind was “No.” Perhaps it is an aesthetic thing. Walking down any given street in Taichung there are literally hundreds of of signs, everywhere. There are people, everywhere. These things are not foreign to me and they don’t necessarily bother me, but perhaps it is just the combination of it all, in contrast to my WIDE OPEN Kansas.
So, Monday of this this week was really hard. One of my friends got married over the weekend and I think it was the first major event I missed while being over here. While that was very difficult to process, and I was pretty shut down, the rest of the week was really fun and HKSG is doing ridiculous things like doing Insanity work outs together.
Also, something that I keep reminding myself during the difficult moments is that I want to do this. I want to be outside my comfort zone, I want to work on my Chinese, I want to understand this culture. I LOVE kids. I can’t wait to teach them and learn from them. I have wanted this for a long time. It’s just different, and it takes a lot of adjustment.