Now that I’m back in the U.S., I’ve noticed some things about me that have changed due to my time away. Here’s a short list:
1. I often need to be reminded to tip in restaurants.
2. I feel a little surprised when shoe stores have my size.
3. Over half my stories start, “When I was in Taiwan …”
4. But I can’t start these stories any other way, because the fact I was in Taiwan is somehow essential to them.
5. When I hear the word “foreigner” in any context, I somehow feel like the word is referring to me.
6. I feel homesick for a place where I was never considered a local.
7. These feelings of homesickness are often triggered by seeing a 7-11.
8. But if I go into that 7-11, I will inevitably be disappointed by the poor tea selection.
9. When talking to strangers, I find myself restructuring sentences to avoid difficult words, only to realize that, yes, other grad students do know the term lingua franca.
10. I get ridiculously excited about things like colorful autumn leaves and frost.
Obviously, these are not the most important take-aways from my time in Taiwan, but they are real. So if you want to travel overseas, be warned: your opinion of 7-11 will never be the same!