I have always tried my hardest to fit in and make myself blend with the crowds around me. Unfortunately, curly hair, white skin, and an American accent make blending in a thing of the past in my new home. Standing out is a scary enough prospect within the states, but being thrown half way around the world and speaking very little of the native tongue brings scary to a whole new level. Despite all the barriers, distance, and the fact that I stick out like a wolf amongst sheep, this experience has been shockingly warm and welcoming. All the locals leap at an opportunity to so much as speak to me, even if their vocabulary only consists of “hello” and “bye bye”, they still seem overjoyed by the experience. Even those who speak no English are willing to go out of their way to try and communicate. From random greetings in the streets, to being pulled aside for a picture with total strangers, the community here seems genuinely happy to have us around. I can’t say I have had a bad experience yet, even struggling to order dinner from an all Chinese menu is met with laughs, smiles and occasionally pulls someone from their table to become a translator. In the first month, this experience has expanded my boundaries, taken me on eye-opening adventures, and taught me what it truly means to fit in. It took a fourteen-hour flight, culture shock, and a language barrier to make me realize that home doesn’t have to be where I blend in most. Here I am, half-way across the world and sticking out more than I ever will in my life, yet I have never felt more at home.
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