An Outsider's Look At America

Well, I'm finally back in America for good. (Although I'm coming back to visit Taiwan at least once a year!) The first few weeks have been a whirlwind of adjusting to the time, car-buying, apartment-finding, and all-around moving in. I don't think it's at all unusual that I feel like an outsider here, having lived abroad for over 5 years and assimilated into their culture and language. It's not a bad feeling, although I'm trying to be prepared for when reverse culture shock kicks in. I just think it's interesting some of the things I've been noticing and feeling, now that I'm back for a longer period of time.

The strangest thing I've felt so far is having to readjust to the language, specifically the pace of it. Of course I had to use English everyday in Taiwan when I was an ESL teacher, but I'm used to talking with non-native speakers, focusing on their accent and correcting mistakes. Over the course of time I've slowed down the pace of my speech and simplified my vocabulary, and I'm used to hearing similar language. So I'm trying to get used to how fast some people speak here. I sometimes have to pause before I reply in order to catch up with what someone else is saying. Also, the fact that I spoke Chinese all the time outside of work has added to the situation. I sometimes have problems thinking of the word I want to say because I have the Chinese word in my head, or sometimes I just draw a blank with both languages.

HOWEVER, I know I'll be able to catch up again. It's my native language after all, and I can get my old vocabulary back, especially if I have to retake the GRE. (Looking into master's programs in bilingual education & Chinese studies)

A really cool thing I've noticed is the racial diversity. I missed that a lot in Taiwan. However, now where I live I don't often see many Asians. So I miss that now. I relish the time I spend in Chinese restaurants because then I might get to hear some Chinese spoken in the background.

Something I'm really shocked about is how expensive everything is. I can't believe the prices of food, for example, and I can see my small amount of savings quickly draining away. So I'm holding tight to my wallet and keeping hawk eyes out for sales on the things I need. On the other hand, I can't wait to be able to shop for clothes and earrings here.

Another striking factor is the commercials on TV. They're all for prescription drugs!!! The wonders of medicine are wonderful but sometimes taking a pill is not going to fix the underlying problem. There's just so many commercials for them and it's shocking to me sometimes.

I still have yet to finish a full meal with the portions given here. Ok, I lied. I can finish the small dish you can get at Noodles & Co. (My favorite place) I feel a little weird though that I'm always the only one who has to get a box to take my leftovers home.

I'm LOVING the music here! Although the quality of songs nowadays is not so great- ("Shuttup and Dance with Me!") What's the deeper meaning in that? I think I'll mostly stick to country music for now.

All in all, I'm hopeful about being back and ready for anything. Trying hard to find a job! Wish me luck!


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