Things I’ve Learned While Abroad

  • Currently taking an intro to German class. The fact that English does not have a formal vs. informal way of addressing people says something about our culture.
  • I wish I didn’t take my geography and world history classes for granted, and I wish I had read global news a lot more.
  • Growing up as a minority, I thought I knew a thing or two about discrimination. But I didn’t. Discrimination is a real and painful thing. It means that people automatically judge you and treat you a certain way because of something you can’t control — like where you’re from. You are suddenly held responsible for something you may or may not have even had a say in. Like an anti-Muslim video some American made that sparked anti-American protests around the world. Like a current or long-over war that instilled a kind of bitterness in people that lasts generations.
  • I’m having a bit of an identity crisis as an Asian American. Especially when I encounter actual Asians abroad. I relate less to them and more to Americans. And yet, I’m still in between. I was thinking about the number of people I can relate closest to in this world, and it’s strange to think about how small a country of Asian Americans would be in comparison to the entire United States.
  • I waste a lot more resources than I thought I did. I use a dryer. Most people in Europe line-dry their clothes. I drive a car. Europe has widespread train and subway systems. I usually don’t finish the huge portions I get in restaurants in America. I can finish my plate here and be perfectly full without any leftovers. I finish my water a lot more often because I have to pay for it and I can’t get a free refill.
  • It’s kind of cool how American pop culture connects the world’s youth. American music plays on the radio. American movies dominate box offices abroad. I meet young people from an assortment of countries that watch How I Met Your Mother. Almost every one of them has a Facebook. We can communicate in English because it’s necessary to understand the language to understand American TV shows.
  • I love the reactions I get when I tell people I’m from Texas! Best reactions so far: “Texas! Like Sandy Cheeks from Spongebob?” “Do you wear cowboy boots or ride a horse?” “Like John Wayne?” Or even better — “Texas? Like Texas Longhorns?!” Hook ‘em. \m/
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