Remember all that zen I had a few days ago? Well, they completely dissipated this morning when I opened my eyes. A stream of thoughts crossed my mind as I gained consciousness, “o.m.g. this is my last day at home.” “o.m.g. I have so much to do still.” “O.M.G. WHY DID I EVER THINK THIS IS A GOOD IDEA?!?”
Yes, I’ve done this before – the whole moving to a country that I’ve not visited, and not knowing anyone thing. There are, however, a few major differences. For one, I no longer have the backing of the US Government (i.e. no more free-loading on meds). I no longer have the camaraderie of 30+ other equally crazy people entering this journey with me. I am alone, very, very alone.
For two, I decided this, oh… 40 some odd days ago. Unlike the Peace Corps, I didn’t have months upon months to mull over this idea. I didn’t have time to stalk a million blogs and to mentally prep myself (whatever that means). So while the idea of doing this is exciting, but when it comes to the day before departure, I was fa-reaking out. Rest assured, the freaking out was contained solely within my head, so no anxiety attacks of any sorts.
As I went about with last-minute packing, making sure my computer/iPhone is Great (fire)Wall proofed, lining up all of my documents, a million thoughts when through my head. Sure, the Internet will be better than my dial-up speed village Internet, and I will have running water. I am moving to an international city so I can buy anything that my heart desires. I won’t need to rely on care packages to get parmesan cheese (or will I?). Yet unlike going to Africa, I grew up in Asia. I have a vague idea of what I am getting myself into. Perhaps ignorance is bliss. All day, in my head, I replayed the reasons why I was never inclined to go bak to Asia.
In the past 15 years or so, I’ve been back to Taiwan fewer times than you can count on a hand. The bluntness of the Chinese sometimes can be traumatizing for someone who’s been pampered under the American way. Undoubtedly, every time I return, people (relative and perfect strangers on the streets alike) comment on me and my sister’s physiques.
If you didn’t know, the standard of beauty in Taiwan and many of the Asian countries is as follows: to be skinny like a toothpick and will fall over if the wind blows. I have always been too big, too dark, too athletic (yes, that’s a con). I have not gotten any smaller, lighter, nor floppier. So, how will I fair? Also, will I be too Chinese for the foreigners and too foreign for the Chinese? While trying to fit one last sweater in my luggage, I was having an entire existential crisis in my head.
And to add icing to cake, my mother excitedly showed me a YouTube video of how to make my eyes look bigger. Oh. Em. Gee.
Are my fears unfounded? Are the Shanghainese really as materialistic as I hear? Are there really so many people that you always bump into someone on the street? Are the inefficiencies of this modern city really rival some parts of Africa? There are so many questions. And I won’t know the answers until I get myself there and find out. So yes, it’s not like I’m moving to Africa again, but this may be equally challenging, if not more. You don’t go, you don’t know. And I absolutely want to know. Sink or Swim. Let’s find out!