Saturday, October 03, 2009

my first time speaking Chinese

Today, I was at Safeway, at the customer service desk. A woman was pretending to punch a card and making small shooting noises. She had grey hair, was tiny, and spoke very, very little English. I was imagining a re-enactment of a situation on a bus in Ithaca, where a dark-skinned, silent Asian man had been trying to do something, and the frustrated bus driver finally turned to me and asked, "Do you speak... your language??"

Thus, I tried to avoid the customer representative's eyes, but the woman herself turned to me. "Chinese?" I then proceeded to translate her wants and needs. The rep didn't seemed phased or surprised, merely responded to me as though it happened every day. As for me... I haven't spoken much Chinese since coming back, and none at all on the street, so it was kind of fun to get back into it.

So do I have culture shock? Strangely... no. I lived for a month in rural Oregon, and the isolation helped ease me back. Now, I'm in a much more diverse area than China, and definitely Oregon, but it's a welcome change. I miss Kunming sometimes, and I'm sure I'll get the urge to go back soon enough, but for now... I'm back in the U.S.A., baby!