2.23.2013

The Road to Adjustment

From the time I first moved to Taiwan to now, one of the cleaning ladies at my apartment complex has asked me the same question nearly every time she's seen me:

“Ni (dui Taiwan) xiguanle ma?”
(“Are you used to Taiwan yet?”)

From the beginning, I’ve answered her the same way with a smile and added pep to my voice:

“Wo xiguanle!”
 (I’m used to it!)

But every time I answered that question, I was lying to her and to myself.

Honestly, I didn’t have any incredible expectations before I moved to Taiwan.  In 2011, I went to China for a summer to study and vacation with my classmates within the Chinese department.  Although I had a great time there, I experienced a lot of hostile stares and people touching my skin and hair without asking.  So, if I expected anything before coming to Taiwan, it was the expectation to be seen as a curiosity more than a person by most people.  Yet some friends told me I’d get a lot less unwanted attention in Taiwan, which put me at ease.

Indeed, my fears were allayed when I woke up on my first full day in Taiwan and saw the mountains outside my window.  One of my roommates and a friend of a Taiwanese friend from back home in Houston took me out to show me where to pick up essentials.  I got a phone plan and changed my money; I can still remember musing to myself about how pretty I thought New Taiwanese Dollars were, as silly as that sounds.  I stared at those blue 1,000NT bills with the school children on them and the shiny silver stripe on the side and thought, “Aw, this is so cute…wow, I’m really here!”

Between unpacking and speaking as much Chinese as I could to everyone, I went sightseeing all over Taipei with a half-Beninese, half-French friend that I met online (I still hang out with her quite a bit).  Things seemed to be working out perfectly, and I was happy to be surrounded by all the good food and new sceneries.  Sure, people stared at me, but they were just curious, I thought – no problem.

That was when I had on my rose-tinted glasses and everything was “great”.  How naïve I was, to think my feelings wouldn’t change.  How silly I was to proclaim with confidence that after just one month I was used to Taiwan.  “Wo xiguanle!”  And I believed I was to boot!

Back then, according to one of my TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) textbooks*, I was in Stage 1 of culture acquisition, what a person goes through when they move to a country with a culture significantly different from that of their home country.  It is “a period of excitement and euphoria over the newness of [one’s]…surroundings.”

Eventually, it wears off and you reach Stage 2 – culture shock.  Depending on what type of person you are, this can range on a spectrum from mild homesickness to a desire to escape to physical illness.  Unfortunately, being a person who is prone to anxiety, my culture shock was pretty severe.

After I started school and no longer had the time to constantly run around and go sightseeing, I began to perceive things around me that I didn’t like, things I was able to ignore previously since I’d been having so much fun.

I become more sensitive to the prolonged stares.

I heard the insults: “black devil”, “ugly”, “chocolate girl”, sometimes even from some of my classmates who didn’t know I knew what they were saying.

I heard girls ask their boyfriends if they thought I was pretty, the boys vigorously shaking their heads “no”.

I realized that one of my roommates wasn’t as friendly as she seemed, that she’d talk about how much she disliked my appearance over the phone to her boyfriend almost daily.  I felt embarrassed about engaging her in conversation and being so polite in the beginning.

I started to get used to the things I initially found fascinating. 

I began to miss my family; I deeply regretted brushing my mom off so much in the past, I missed her the most.  I started to feel lethargic and often had indigestion.

Progressively, I suppose in order to make myself feel better, I formed a “me” vs. “them” mentality.  I look different, but by Jove, they should frickin’ try harder to understand me!”

Still, I lied that I was used to things, and I still believed it.  Nicolette-Then thought she had gotten used to being the “misunderstood black girl over there”.  Being misunderstood and left out was their fault, not mine.   I was such a melodramatic mess.

Then I realized after lectures from my father in January when he came to visit me as well as some pep-talks from friends that I was responsible for my miserable situation.  I would always go out with my guns drawn so-to-speak, ready to glare at anyone who stared or said something rude.  But it took me forever to realize that I was projecting so much negativity, and as a result, I got it back tenfold.  I realized that I shouldn’t look at everyone like a culprit, and that I should change my views about the people who had put me down. 

Of course some knew better than to do that, but many of them were just uncomfortable.  Jesting at me was a way for them to mitigate their lack of comfort.  In the case of my roommate, I’m sure her friends and boyfriend were expecting to hear stories of the black girl doing “crazy” things when she was first informed that I’d be moving in.  Now that I’m here and I’m not crazy, the poor thing has to make up tales to tell everyone. 

Either way, it’s not for me to worry about.  Project positivity and respond to the goodness you will get in return – that became my new mantra.

So, here I am at Stage 3 “tentative and vacillating…recovery” from culture shock.  I still have my days where I don’t feel like smiling or a comment rattles my core, but I try to go out with a smile on my face.  In just one month, I have gotten a lot of positivity in return from simply being positive myself.  I don’t think I’m anywhere near Stage 4 - “near or full recovery, either assimilation or adaptation” - but I hope to see that point someday.

I know the cleaning lady will ask me in the future whether or not I’m used to things here.  I will give her the same white lie; I don’t think there’s any need to bother her with stories of my struggles no matter how motherly she comes across.  It’s all good as long as I’m no longer lying to myself!

*My textbook is called “Principles of Language Learning and Teaching” 5th edition by H. Douglas Brown

56 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences. We can compare notes.

    I stayed in Taiwan for three years as an exchange student-teacher a zillion years ago. Sufficed to say, I never got beyond stage 1 because I lived in my own room on the first floor of a boy's dormitory in Taichung and I was overpaid for playing with my "students."At the time, the teacher's badge came with a plethora of privileges that ensured that my stint as an illegal alien/student/teacher was one of the best times of my life. I absolutely loved bribing the police every three months in order to extend my visa.

    There was only one blight on my experience there and it had nothing to do with me or my color. It had to do with the vile treatment my "overseas" Chinese friends (huaqiao) received at the hands of locals, both on and off campus.

    In half the time and without the privileges, I reached stage 2 in China and never recovered. That's a story best not told though.

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  2. It is good to get this perspective from a person (woman) of color working abroad....sometimes we develop this tunnel vision that anywhere is better than here and we over look or don't do our research enough to know that it may not be better but just different.

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  3. This for such a honest story. I think this is one of the first stories I've heard about the down side of living in Asia.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear that as I thought I'd been rather forthcoming about not packing up and leaving unless you had the connections and the money to do so. There are ups and downs to living anywhere. Black women shouldn't move to Asia without a clear plan and a strong mind. Asia is not a sanctuary for Black women in general, but if you know the right people, a Black woman can do as well in Asia as she can anywhere else, society-permitting. For me, Mom + Dad + Mr. H. = sanctuary.

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    2. @Hateya-I read your story that is why I said one of the few I had heard about with a downside. The majority that you hear about are rainbows and unicorns. I lived off and on in Europe so I know everything does not go smoothly. I would not suggest even moving to another state without having a plan.

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  4. Excellent first post.

    I heard girls ask their boyfriends if they thought I was pretty, the boys vigorously shaking their heads “no”.

    I realized that one of my roommates wasn’t as friendly as she seemed, that she’d talk about how much she disliked my appearance over the phone to her boyfriend almost daily.


    Fun fact: if they have to ask/complain, it's only because you're a threat.

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    1. I thought the same. Acting this way shows their insecurity.

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    2. For all those girls know, those same boyfriends who those girls looked for vanity approval from are will probably be the same ones wanting Nicolettes number.

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    3. Oh pardon my manners, but welcome to BN Nicolette.

      Your post is a great reminder of how some people will get caught up in one thing and forgetting the other half of the equation. I wondered about certain things living in another country like hair care,culture and language.My mom have always said that there are two sides to every story. Going to another country would be no different.

      Though I have yet to venture into another countries, but I had friends and relatives who have and I've been invited to come with them. Most of them have been out of the country and they boast how good they had it during their visit. It just seemed that year after year they continued saying it.If you would listen to them, you would think they're perfect. That all changed when one of friends went to a section in Spain and was chased from there. Though another friend of mine wasn't treated nearly as bad as he was, she did suspect a some prejudice at a consignment store in Mexico as one of the shop attendants thought she was going to steal an item from there.

      Much as I want to go out of the country,I wonder about myself (my primary for not going is my fear of planes) dealing with those possibilities? but life is a chance. I would rather find out where I stand in this world than to never do it and regret it. Now if I can get over my phobias of planes..lol!

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    4. Error: I have a bad habit of putting "but" into everything just take the word out(2nd paragraph ,first line) if you any more of them, excuse me for those as well.

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    5. @M-My mom is afraid of flying, but she did come to visit me when I lived overseas. Though her fingernails are still embedded in the seat I'm sure! The fact that she is cheap is why she came. After spending that money for the ticket she was determined!

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    6. @M - Yes, there are always two sides of a story. It's important to consider every aspect of a situation before diving into it. I spoke to a lot of people who had been to Taiwan and were from Taiwan before coming, but all of them were either white or Asian so there was no way for them to give me a picture of sorts of how my time would be here. So in some ways, I was diving into the unknown which can be dangerous. But I think I've discovered a lot about myself this way.

      People always want to show the good side of things. It's like Facebook, people don't post crappy pictures of themselves, haha. But we have to realize that there is always a downside, and we have to be brave enough to find out what it is and proceed knowing some of the negative things that may happen. I think it's best to go out and see how your story will go!

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  5. Such a good post. So sweet i want to hug you from England. It's good you are being honest, to us and yourself. I've seen your picture and you are beautiful. Nigerians UNITE ! I only went to Korea for summer holiday and i experienced some of that behavior. I can't imagine living with it. But too be honest i think i put my self at risk for being overly enthusiastic.

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  6. Wow, thanks for the lovely response! :D

    @Hateya - Haha, I think a lot of teachers here rarely go past Stage 1 or 2 because their lives heavily revolve around where they teach. I met a professor from Canada who has been here for 12 years and doesn't know a lick of Chinese. I think that's when it starts getting a little odd; how can you be somewhere for over a decade and not know at least a bit of the language?! I know what you mean about the treatment of Mainland students as well. There are a lot of them at my school, so I assume that they connect with each other, but I do feel some of the local students do look down on them.

    As for your time in China, I know it can be rough there. I've heard horror stories...

    @Dulce - Yeah, I'm trying to break this habit I have of thinking things will instantly get better every time I move on to a new stage in my life, haha. I think it's important that we periodically stop, look, and honestly evaluate our situations.

    @Lor - There are a lot of positives here too, but with everything there's a downside.

    @Ankhesen - Thanks! Haha, that's what people tell me. It's such silly behavior.

    @마리 - Thank you for the complements, makes me feel great :D I knew some of the things I mentioned would happen before moving, so I thought I was crazy for coming here at one point, but now I see it all as a learning experience. When you're in a new environment you learn so much about yourself.

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    1. @Nicolette -- There are people who've been in Japan for 30 years and can't speak Japanese. Yet, "the dumb foreigner" is probably much happier than the educated one. Japan is a cesspool of mind games and mental torture. It's best not to put yourself in a situation where you'd be asked to participate in a game. I never speak Japanese to my colleagues and I only speak it with my husband when we go abroad. Curiously, the Koreans don't even blink when I speak it in Seoul or Pusan. I suspect they prefer it to English.

      Many of my overseas classmates came from everywhere except Mainland China. They were from Mauritius, Indonesia, Thailand, and Peru. They, especially the young women, had no agency whatsoever. Though the "teacher' badge" was a farce, it served one good purpose. It allowed me to protect three Indonesian friends who worked in the tea shop just outside the campus gate. Many of their countrymen and countrywomen were not so fortunate. I can't express my disgust in words.

      As for China...ugh.

      Welcome to the narrative!

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    2. Now I want to hear about China.....

      @Nicolette: I was thinking of going to China/Singapore for my elective. Not so sure anymore. I met some lovely black Americans in Japan who told me working in Japan (not as teachers) was very hard, but they did not really go into detail with the racism, they said they were protected by their US companies. When I went to Korea with my half Japanese, half white friend who is very pretty. I actually had someone tell me to my face they prefer to be mixed with white than black. And when I mentioned I liked the kpop idols to people in the kpop shop, they all went quiet and stopped trying to talk to me and just wanted me to buy my shit and leave ! Although I must admit i brought it on myself, i learnt to keep quiet after that experience. I told this to one of my friends here and she said "this is why i do not want to marry another chinese person, so f*cking racist" hahaha, she made me laugh...I think it all depends on where u grow up...and who brings you up.

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    3. @-And when I mentioned I liked the kpop idols to people in the kpop shop, they all went quiet and stopped trying to talk to me and just wanted me to buy my shit and leave !

      Okay that was funny! So they did not like that a person of color was digging on their idols?

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    4. @마리 @Lor

      The Kpop shop experience reminds me of how some Kpop idol group came to an European country (I think Spain) and basically their management had all the brown and black fans go to the back of the stage when the group performed (it was an outdoor event, in the afternoon) basically so that the white fans could stay in front and thus appear in all the promotional photos :/

      This actually happened, I recall reading some comments left by fans who were at this show (I think it was on Omona), and then hearing about it when I was talking about Kpop to a fan in London. This is pretty much why I don't play with Kpop any more. This is a prime example of using us while spitting on us, they don't mind taking money from brown and black fans but want to hide us in the shadows like we're some dirty little secret.

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    5. @cosmicyoruba-WHAT!?!?!?! Wow just wow! I think I would have stopped liking Kpop at that moment.

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    6. Lor,

      Isn't that something? It seems stupid that they would dis you for admiring Kpop. Not that long ago,I went to a mall where the owner sold a lot of Korean/ Asian themed items including and had a big poster of that group named Shinee just as big on the his store window...I guess to let young people know that he may sell Kpop items in his store. Guess that Korean guy wasn't offended that there are non Koreans that admired it.

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    7. @Hateya - I see what your saying. It reminds me of when my dad came to visit and didn't realize what people were saying about us. Sometimes it's better to be in the dark, and I wish I could un-hear a lot of the things my ears pick up. At times I do "play dumb" as well depending on the situation. Sometimes it's just easier that way.

      Thanks for the welcome!

      @마리 - Sometimes I feel like it was easier to speak to people when I was in China! But you must take that with a grain of salt; I wasn't in China nearly as long as I've been in Taiwan. I think it depends on who brought you up and your personality. We're products of our environment but I think we're also responsible for some of our behavior. I've meet some very nice people here who were not simply flattering me and some really cruel people, it depends. I don't even think it always comes from a racist standpoint, it's just an extreme fear of the unknown and an over-the-top reaction to it.

      @cosmicyoruba & Lor - All these crazy K-pop stories reminds me of when Seungri from Big Bang said he was scared of black people because they're violent (something along those lines). Haha, so ridiculous.

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    8. I don't even think it always comes from a racist standpoint, it's just an extreme fear of the unknown and an over-the-top reaction to it.

      @Nicolette-I think that with people of color especially coming from the U.S.. When you first venture outside to other countries you "see" everything from a racist mindset. Just because you had to deal with it so much back home. So when you experience a slight you automatically assume the person is racist. I took a trip to Mexico a couple of years ago and people kept trying to give me tequila. They just naturally assumed because I was American it meant I wanted to get drunk. Which is funny since I drink about once or maybe twice a year if that much. And never more than one drink.

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  7. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing your experience Nicolette, yours is very similar to those of my friends who are in China and/or Taiwan.

    Then I realized after lectures from my father in January when he came to visit me as well as some pep-talks from friends that I was responsible for my miserable situation.

    I personally don't think you were responsible for this. Being defensive is a natural reaction when faced with negativity. While I'm glad that you learned to project positivity, from just reading this post I don't think you would have been negative without having received that first.

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  8. Welcome Nicolette!

    Thanks for sharing, I have been reading other people experiences in Taiwan/China also and they pretty much go through the same things. I also like how you put the stages you go through in perspective.

    I hope you share more stories.

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  9. I hope you don't blame yourself too harshly! Your reactions are perfectly natural, shame on them for their lack of hospitality and manners. Seriously. Shame on you Taiwan!

    BTW, how's the food?

    And welcome! Thanks for sharing your experiences. If you lived near me, I'd take you out for coffee and snacks. I hope we can provide a shoulder to lean on to alleviate the homesickness.

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  10. Thank you NIcolette for sharing this story with us, you little trooper! Keep your head held high, walk tall and strut your stuff! Even in such a "diverse" place such as London, I get stared at. But in my mind I just think to myself "You just wish you could be me! Ha!"
    Maybe thats what all those Taiwanese boys and girls who are talking about you are really thinking haha. You are amazing and a lot more strong willed then you probably give yourself credit for. There aren't no where near as many people out there who has the courage to pack up and fly off to another country with a complete and utterly different lifestyle let alone language, to go and live, I think thats pretty amazing.
    I wish I had the same courage as you. I mean, I have been trying to pick up mine just to convince myself to save UP for a holiday to Japan/Vietnam (the main places I would like to go) just to visit. Maybe one day.
    Keep doing your thang girl! :)

    @마리
    That whole thing about talking to the shop workers about liking Kpop and them blanking you is something that really annoys me about the mindset of some Korean people. It makes me laugh actually! An age old topic really has to get thrown in here now about how Kpop, the whole scene, or genre of music if you want to call it that, is assimilated from Black American culture, Hip-Hop and R'nB, yet you guys bad mouth the creators (Kpop idols included kmt) and not want anything to do with them yet everything you do (dance, sound, style etc) is essentially "Black". Get outta here!
    Korea. Sometimes I just don't know what to do about it! Haha! I got a big mouth at times so anything I hear and I don't like...I kinda always have something to say about it! Haha! I might end up ruffling some feathers out there! Haha.

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    1. Haha, I sure will! Self-confidence is something that I'm working on daily. I hope you do take that vacation someday. Despite all the negative situations I've been in, I am having a great time here with the people I've met, and I've encountered some really nice strangers as well. I've always thought that, even though it can be frustrating, I can't let other peoples' behavior prevent me from what I want to do because in the end I'm the one who'll lose.

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  11. @Nicolette again: I think you shouldn't blame yourself for other people's ignorance. I would be equally upset if I was in your situation. I've experienced that kind of discrimination but I am not surrounded by it, i have friends and family and I live in Europe. Continue to surround yourself with honest and kind people. Plus you are gorgeous. Represent us with your Afro.

    @Everyone else: The story is shocking but I am not suprised.

    The stories I could tell you. Hahaha. I laugh about it now but at the time i was like "Say what?".

    The Bad: The Kpop shop in Seoul --> they were keen to sell me things in the beginning and even told me extra stuff about the artists i was interested in. But I mentioned how much I thought Mickey Yoochun was good looking and the change in atmosphere was so quick...it was scary. Other asian tourists had that same reaction to me. I tried to talk to some of them buying kpop merchandise, looked at me like i was crazy.

    The Ugly: My hapa friend who is NOT racist but so determined to integrate herselfwith Japanese culture/prove her japanese side now that she is living and working there that she said things to me like "Asians, specially Korean have a bad impression of Africans so try not to tell them that is where you are from, you were born in Europe so that is who you are..." The comment about preferring to be mixed with white skin by a random Ahjumma korean waitress. Being asked by some random Japanese guy after clubbing with my friends (having an early breakfast) if I "liked sex". STRAIGHT OUT DIRECTLY (i just ignored him). His friend who was into my hapa friend and invited this guy along cause he knows he likes black girls *eye roll* and NO he was not cute...

    The Good:
    Japan is SUPER COOL! If you know where to go and who to hang out with.
    My Korean guesthouse owner thought i was a model.
    Some drunk korean guy on the train told me my skin was beautiful.
    A nice Korean man stopped a taxi for me and said "hope you enjoyed your stay in Korea"
    An old Korean man thought I was lost and followed me to make sure I got the right train.
    A Japanese man did the same thing.

    The weird: People taking pictures of me and a Japanese girl telling me my outfit looked nice and then telling her boyfriend "wow i have never seen a black girl before" my friend translated that for me. It was weird because. I saw black people EVERYWHERE in Tokyo.

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    1. About the "taking pictures" part ?I remembered looking at that on certain shows thinking that people didn't do that, but a former college classmate told me that when her uncle went to Japan and a lot of the natives wanted pictures with him because they thought he was a basketball player being tall as he was.. lol. I also witnessed another one on my way home (in the states). A Japanese family took a picture of a Black mom and daughter. Strange and fascinating at the same time.

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    2. No, I no longer blame myself completely for what's happened. It's best to not worry about it much; I used to let those silly comments effect me for the rest of the day :/ Thanks, I do love having and afro. Power to the people!

      I've heard the African vs African-American thing a lot. Sometimes, I swear people breath a sigh of relieve when I say I'm from America, and then they get confused when I mention this or that about Nigeria, and then seeing my name blows their mind, haha. It's so silly. And it's gross to objectify people, so the random guy...ew.

      Luckily, I seem to always encounter nice people if I'm lost! A lady followed my friends and I to our destination when we were lost in Shanghai.

      Oh lord, the picture taking. I don't get that (maybe twice?) here in Taiwan, but it happened every day in China for sure! What that girl said sort of reminds me of when a girl asked my friend and I where we were from, and when my friend said France, she exclaimed "France has black people!?" A guy nearby said "Of course, they play basketball there!" I literally facepalmed. Seriously.

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    3. The weird: People taking pictures of me and a Japanese girl telling me my outfit looked nice and then telling her boyfriend "wow i have never seen a black girl before" my friend translated that for me. It was weird because. I saw black people EVERYWHERE in Tokyo.

      I laughed aloud at this.

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    4. When I was in Japan, I had no issues telling people where I was from when they asked, Nigeria, "Nishi (West) Africa". They were usually curious, wanting to know what the weather was like, most folks didn't believe that it was hotter in Japan than in Nigeria at that time (because it was summer in Japan and rainy season in Nigeria). I had people entering "Nigeria" into search engines because they were curious I guess. I didn't see that many Black people in Tokyo, I remember once on the train some weird dude was sneakily trying to take photos of me.

      Still, I enjoyed Japan way more than I'd ever expected. The people I met were nice and friendly, sometimes too friendly, mostly courteous and curious about me. Sometimes I wondered if this happened because I was always out and about with at least one Japanese friend. Maybe this made people assume that I could speak Japanese... they were more willing to talk to me either way like my friends could translate if I didn't understand. Most of them were either calling me cute, or saying how awesome they thought I was for travelling on my own, or asking me if I thought Japanese guys were handsome. I want to visit Japan again, but I'm almost certain that subsequent trips won't be as positive.

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    5. I went in 2011, there were a lot of black people. Mainly men and i did see a few women, very few though...who were dressed in a questionable manner. Yeah it was Korea where the "do not mention you are African" thing was a problem. Not Japan. Honestly Japan was super cool, I traveled for my friends graduation and to meet an old uni friend who's from Korea, so I got complimented to for traveling such a long way. I want to visit again.
      Tokyo was CRAZY hot, I HAVE NEVER FELT THAT HOT IN NAIJA...... I visit during xmas and summer. I'm guessing it's all that concrete in Japan.

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    6. For a split second I thought I was there 2011 as well, but no it was summer 2010. Will see what happens if/when I go to South Korea.

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  12. Loved your article!!!

    And right now I am loving how everybody is talking a little bit about their experience. In my case being around Asian people affected what my notion of what is beautiful and my self image.

    Im currently living in Sydney, and to be honest in the city you see more Asian people than Australians! All of my colleagues area Asian young people, and I adore them. Nonetheless sometimes I felt like I'd never fit in, because some things are just completely different.

    As a blacktina Im used to being very proud of my body without dressing like a whore, but I was told once by a chinese coworker, that she thought I dressed like a slut, although I wear what everybody else wears in here. When I told one of my Australian born asian friends, she told me the same some people have mentioned here: is probably envy. As most (but not all) black women I AM FULL OF CURVES, therefore some shorts and a tshirt will look more feminine in me than in a very thin girl, besides, in my culture, we all want to look like a perfect hourglass, but all of them just wanted to be thin and pale guess what? Im neither of those... So I felt fat and angry... Everytime I had to hear a 4'11 little Macau girl complaining that she went to the beach and got tanned and she didnt wanna look dark, because that's ugly or someone else complain that now she weighed 40kgs.... I felt like I was gonna bitchslap someone!!!

    Eventually I started wearing what I felt beautiful in, and things changed for the better... little by little. And that energy started making people feel more comfortable around me, people would ask about my hair, cuz a lot of them had never seen natural african hair, about my island (a lot of people down here have no idea my country exists and when I say we speak spanish they dont believe me... we black people are everywhere!!!)

    Once again, Nicolette thank you so much for your article!

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    1. Thank you!

      I like that your brought up self-image! Being in a place where you look so different, it can really bruise your self-esteem to find that you fall a long ways out of what people perceive to be beautiful. Of course not everyone feels the same way, but it does cross your mind. I think before going abroad a person has to have a strong sense of self because comments like that can lead to body dysmorphia among other things. I'm glad you sticking to who you are! And I love the term "blacktina"!

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    2. @Nicolette, @KarMell-You don't have to leave this country to issues with your body. I am a black woman without the big butt! I have hips, but no butt. I got teased for not having one (still don't!). It hurt and even gaining weight did not work. Any weight I gain stops at my stomach! I read how Tina Turner felt bad when she was younger because she wasn't built like the other black women and was told she was too skinny. She realized that instead of trying to please people who did not want her; she focused on those who did. So I did the same. I'm not saying it won't sting to hear someone put you down, but you can rise above it.

      @KarMell-I've never heard of "blacktina". I've heard of the term "latinegra" which a friend of mine uses. Where are you from?

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    3. @Lor: Im dominican, and while I was at the States it was plain easy to just say that, but over here people wouldnt comprehend that there's black people in spanish speaking countries, or that Caribbean doesnt mean Bahamas. One of my friends started googling around about it, found the word, told me and I just loved it!

      Btw, Im in the same boat... no booty!! I just have humongous hips... hahahahhaha

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  13. I’m really enjoying all the discussion here, especially about Korea and Japan since I’ve never been to either place (aside from spending 4hrs in Incheon Airport, haha).

    @cosmictoruba – Glad you enjoyed it! Hm, I see what you mean about me blaming myself. I think I did at one point, but now I realize that it wasn’t my fault.

    @Meanie – Thanks! I think that these stages can be experienced almost anywhere, so I though it was important to touch on them. I’m excited to share more in the future!

    @jnguyen – No, I don’t anymore. Actually, I’ve encountered many nice people here on the streets. It’s mostly people my age that are rude to me! The food is wonderful here! Food is definitely a major part of the culture here, and it’s all so yummy (especially pig’s blood, surprisingly!) Aw, thank you for your kindness. Homesickness is certainly something I’ve experience here.

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    1. Food is the main reason why I need to go back to Asia :) American food sucks something horrible, however, I do recall getting really homesick after a few weeks in Asia. But then you come back home and you miss everything in Asia....and you get treated like shit for your color here anyway. Hm. Boooo!

      If it isn't too much of a bother, can you, or others with cross-cultural experiences, compare your racial experience at home vs the racial experience in your overseas locality)? It sounds almost like you're facing exoticism, as opposed to the violence that we get over here (USA). Or does the violence exist over there too?

      Thank you for sharing your experience again! I hope we get to hear more from you soon. Did you get to enjoy New Years Celebrations? It's still going on over there, isn't it?

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    2. I already know when I visit the States this summer I'm going to miss the food here. Everything in the US is just so processed, you can't even trust that things are organic when it says so on the label. :/

      It's not a bother at all! That's actually something that I wanted to discuss, so I think I'll make that the next thing I write about. :D

      No problem, and the celebrations ended around the 15th. It was really interesting to experience CNY here!

      Delete
  14. Oops, I forgot to welcome you here!! And to properly comment on your first post.

    Quote:
    and when my friend said France, she exclaimed "France has black people!?" A guy nearby said "Of course, they play basketball there!" I literally facepalmed. Seriously.

    LOL Just LOL :) I couldn't help it. (not in a mean way though!)

    There's so much that has been said in the comments that I don't know where to begin, I just will say props to you for making the effort to stay positive no matter what.

    I "know" the downsides of living abroad, I've read and heard many stories like this, and I think that there are some areas that are not for me. But then, if I ever have an interesting job opportunity there, I'll probably take it.





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    1. Haha, we laughed right in front of them, it was just too stupid of a comment not to.

      I think it all depends on you and your objectives. It takes a lot to stay in this environment for a long time, but if you're determined you can do it!

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  15. Evening everyone. It's been awhile since my last posting, so do forgive me. Nicolette, as a person of Chinese ancestry, I would like to apologize for the behavior of my culture & my ethnic peers, for a lack of a better term. I know how unkind they can be, the depths of their pettiness & arrogance, and how much they suffer from colorism. They may deny it to the death, but they sure as hell have that affliction. But by this experience, and the experiences of everyone whose given their 2 cents, is the basis as to why I generally avoid my own. Sad, but true. And to all you ladies (and gents, if I've missed the handles) I am sorry. Words cannot express the level of revolted disgust I feel when I see/hear my fellow person of color; NAY, human being subject to such despicable treatment from those who're supposed to be my own. And I cannot help but to also admire your courage in the face of it all, despite the adversities, prejudices & preconceived notions. Two things in closing. As unusual as it may be to some, this is by & large why I get along better with people outside my own, more specifically people of black/African ancestry/culture. They have a higher propensity for tolerance towards bullshit, and (in the case of born & bred Africans) are far more hospitable & friendly than any other people on earth, save my fellow Malaysians. And also this is but a tip of the iceberg in my rationale as to why I avoid (not exclude & prejudge) Mainlanders, among other nationalities.

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    1. And when will we be getting a post from you, hm?

      Delete
    2. It goes both ways Zydar. I don't think it's appropriate to speak for a race, even your own, nor to project upon other racial groups. Nicolette is recounting personal experience, which is different from apologizing for your ethnic peers. For instance, I haven't done anything that you need to apologize for me for :) and I certainly try not to. I know many of us have issues and that it can be seen as a 'family' matter but that doesn't mean that every family is equal. For instance, my 'family' of Asian friends are all #fromthefuture socially aware folks who mostly hang out in non-white safe spaces, be it Asian and otherwise. But this isn't surprising given the construct of racism in the USA. In SEAsia, I think if we talk about the constructs of colorism, colonialization and the issue of white power via popular media all over the planet, we will understand why racism gets embed into our culture. I'm not even knowledgeable enough about mainland China to talk about its history with colorism, but I do recall that the Republic of China (at the end of the Qing dynasty was it?) was founded based upon democratic "Western" ideas and this has likely influenced the way whiteness works in China.

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    3. Ditto, there's no need to apologize! I think for a lot of people here, their prejudice way of thinking was taught to them much like it was taught to white people (or, in many cases today, is still being taught). Not that they shouldn't try to learn about other cultures, but spewing out all those crazy comments and the irrational behavior that they sometimes have is somewhat habitual.

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  16. Soon Akhensen, when I'm done with the new sem's enrollment/registration :p

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  17. Welcome to BN! I'm glad I caught your first post. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am so happy to hear that you are
    learning more about yourself. I really wanted to teach in Taiwan, but ended up in China (arrived in October). I also have days where I don't want to smile, but I try to be neutral and relax my face. I also think that comes from living in New York for the last three years. People tend to smile less while on the go.

    I am sending love from China! I can't wait to read more about your time in Taiwan! Keep being a Boss!

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    1. @Tapioca-Ai

      People tend to smile less while on the go.

      Which is the exact opposite of my hometown where people smile constantly, as if everyone has Vaseline on their teeth. :D I probably look more relaxed than I feel since I grew up in this unnatural circumstance. Lots of Japanese people find me approachable and not in the least bit scary. Of course, that might be related to my legendary shortness.

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    2. @Hateya

      I forgot to write that I'm Tracy from way back in my original post lol But yes! My Southerner and my growing New Yorker have been fighting about that haha I smiled a lot when I first arrived to New York, and I have since toned it down. I am a super shorty as well haha So, Chinese people try to talk to me if we are in the same space long enough and I am by myself.

      And thank you once again for all your help back when I was deciding where to go! You were (and are of course!) a great inspiration for me to go out and explore the world!

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    3. @Tapopca-Ai

      Hello Tracy! I'm so happy you're out exploring the world and seeing how things work for yourself. No one can tell you what reality is. You need to experience it for yourself and I hope you're having a good time in China.

      People often approach me when I'm alone and it's clear that I'm not doing anything important. They often ask me if I'm lost, which I never am. The conversation is driven by the language I use. If I speak English, they generally ask the normal tourist-type questions and those can lead to personal ones. If I speak Japanese, the weather becomes the topic of the day and an extended conversation would revolve around Mr. H's job.

      Again, I hope you do have a good time over there. How long will you stay?

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    4. @ Hateya

      I will be in China until June. I decided not to recontract or move to another city in China. I am really excited to figure out what I want to do for a career.

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    5. @Tracy

      It's good that you know what you want to do and you're getting out before you lose all contacts stateside. I've seen that happen to a lot of people and it's turned out badly. Good luck in finding a career that makes you happy. The blood, sweat and tears are worth it if you love the work.

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  18. I am a Black man who went to Taiwan to see my girlfriend and her mother. I loved the feeling of being a foreigner because a lot of Taiwanese wanted to know more about black culture. I did not experience racism at all. Instead I was embraced in my girlfriend's neighborhood, Sanchong.

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