Sunday, January 19, 2014

Back in Europe

Feeling relieved to be back in Europe. I mean Europe still feels foreign to me since its culture is very different and I don't have good friends here, but after this trip back to Asia, it is confirmed that "home" feels more foreign that any strange place in the world. Taiwan is great. People are friendly and food is inexpensive and delicious. I could live in Taiwan, but I would have to seriously minimize my interactions with family. I have never felt so distant from my family and relatives before. They probably always felt this distant to me but I just never realized it. Everyone does what they're supposed to do: you're "supposed" to take your little cousin who's visiting from abroad to places so that's what they do. It felt like it was what they felt were expected of them to do and that they weren't actually happy to see me. Being the difficult person that I am, I found it impossible to put up a cheerful front.

I learned that my mother raised me the way she did because she (and most other adults in Taiwan) assumed a million things about children. Parents feel like their main job is to tell their kids to study hard and make sure they eat, because kids don't like to eat or study. They also assume that once kids finish university, they will want to find a partner and settle down. Out of curiousity, I asked my 80-something year old father what he would want to do with his life if he were only 30 years old right now. He said, "Get married". My mother took that as a complement and was ecstatic.

Therein lies the great divide between my western upbringing and my parents' traditional Chinese thinking. My dad interpreted the question as, "What are you supposed to do when you are 30?" Either that or he has never given any alternative thoughts as to what else he could have done with his life.  I mean it's great that he is content with how his life has turned out, but the times are different; even if I copy his life path right now I will not end up with his stable job and family later on.

People didn't seem interested about my life in Europe. I mentioned that food isn't as good as in Taiwan, and that seemed to be all they needed to know. Instead of asking if I like my job or life abroad, they just assumed I will be able to find a stable job here and they joked that I might get married and live permanently in Sweden. I don't like people making assumptions about me without understanding my situation and my way of thinking, which makes our interactions quite unpleasant.

It will be another year before I have to interact with them again. I hope I can adjust my mindset better for the next encounter. I wish my family was more loving and supportive but that's just not the way they are. Have to figure out a way to be okay with how they are.

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