An article I recently read about traveling said that one quick way to know whether a person in any country traveling is American is how much s/he smiles. I guess if that really is the giveaway, then I must be extremely American because I do this a lot when traveling, especially when I don’t understand what’s going on when I am slightly lost in translation. I realize that for a lot of people, this is extremely frustrating and grates on their nerves because it’s never a good feeling to feel like you are either not in control or not understanding what’s happening around you. But for me, this is actually a part of travel that invigorates me and almost feeds me, making me crave more and more of this slight chaos. I actually like being surprised, not always knowing what’s going on, and eventually figuring out what’s being unveiled in front of me. With my elementary Mandarin, it’s been exciting for me to speak in Mandarin to someone, to then have them respond to me in Taiwanese, and have the I’m-speaking-Mandarin-to-you and you’re-speaking-Taiwanese-back-to-me experience continue. Based on context and extremely slight and subtle language similarities, I’d make out what was being said, and the conversation would continue. And every time something like this would happen, I’d become even more excited and wishing this type of exchange would happen more.
So then when I get back to the U.S., the language part of life suddenly becomes boring again because here, we’re speaking English, and here, because we’re ignorant, racist, and xenophobic assholes, we prefer to speak English and get annoyed when people around us do not. And I speak English fluently, and I rather be around people who don’t because I tend to learn more around them than people here, and I get surprised more often, and that’s what helps make life interesting and riveting.