Another school year has passed, and I am home in the States for the summer again. This year, everything seems a little different: Sara and Ashleigh are both in Taiwan and not coming home for vacation; Mom and Dad have moved to a different state, so I’m living at “home” in New York for the first time; and now that I’ve spent two years in Taiwan, I find that the adjustment back to U.S. culture is slightly more drastic.
Let me share a bit more on that last point. Last summer when I came home to the States, I was simply excited to be back amongst everything (and everyone) familiar. Throughout the past year in Taiwan though, I have become more accustomed to and comfortable in the Taiwanese culture. There are so many things I have grown to love: “freedom” in driving (a.k.a. very few rules enforced on the road and very little road rage), assorted tea and fresh juice stands everywhere, absolutely delicious and cheap Taiwanese cuisine, friendly and helpful people, language learning challenges and triumphs, beautiful countryside and mountains, and interesting and unique cultural sites (for instance, a traditional Hakka village or the night and morning markets). There are also things I don’t like: bad air quality and lots of pollution, almost no parking spots anywhere, language frustrations, spiritual darkness and oppression, and the extreme heat and humidity.
But regardless of what I like or don’t like, I’ve learned to be at home in Taiwan during my second year there, so coming back to the U.S.A. is a bit of a shock to my system. At every turn, I’m seeing something surprising, learning something new, or remembering something I had forgotten about life here. So far, I’ve been overwhelmed by the ice cream selection in the grocery store (see the video below); I’ve thought that New York state has an unusual number of incredibly tall women (only to realize that I’m just used to Taiwan height standards); and I’ve remarked about the “huge asparagus!” that my mom cooked for dinner (because though it is very tasty, the asparagus in Taiwan is very thin and small).
It’s funny the things that take some getting used to again. It’s also wonderful to be here in my home country for a month and a half and to be able to enjoy all the familiar things that I miss when I’m in Taiwan. I guess this constant transitioning, adjusting, and missing the familiar is just part of living life in a foreign country and coming “home” for visits. The big question is: Where is home really? The answer: Both countries and neither country. And I guess that’s alright because I’m actually a citizen of heaven (Phil. 3:20) and an alien in this foreign land (1 Peter 2:11). I love my life of experiencing different cultures and expanding my worldview, but I’m also thankful that someday in Heaven, I will truly and absolutely belong.
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Here are some snapshots of summer so far: