Sunday, October 10, 2010

Being International

What does it mean to be international?
Sometimes I find that I feel like I'm split personalities: I've got my born American personality, and my newer and more fragile Japanese side that is still learning the ropes on how to be Japanese. These two personalities will collide in a fight, get subdued by the other, or, in rare occasions, mesh together. Maybe being international means learning which personality to use in certain situations. As a learning foreigner, I have the infamous "foreign card" I can play from time to time. Basically, it means 'play the role of the dumb foreigner.' The foreign card is for tough situations only, such as run-ins with the law or moments where you act utterly American and embarrass/offend.
Here's some general examples of the 2 personalities:
Using polite speech
Wanting to speak Japanese everywhere
Doing cultural things, like origami,
Wanting to eat udon, okonomiyaki, etc.
Thinking the "go" color on a stoplight is blue (ask any Japanese person that, it's blue)
Riding the train/bike
Roundabout answers for things, using hints

Lazy and wants to use English
Watching American tv and enjoying American humor
Wanting a hamburger from McDonald's
Thinking the "go" color on a stoplight is green
Driving everywhere
Stating directly how you feel

Don't be confused, I'm not trying to stereotype or categorize people. These are merely cases of where I tend to feel more connected to one culture than another. It's a constant ebb and flow of being in a place that is different and adapting to it. Naturally, there are times where the lines blur. Take McDonald's, for instance. You may feel very American by walking into a Mickey D's, but it's not completely like it is at home. The menu's in Japanese, and it has shrimp burgers on it. Maybe being international doesn't mean adapting to the certain cultural situation and matching the source, but to blend cultures in a way that is harmonious.
This brings me to my next point.
I'm currently eating my own words for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I've mentioned on this blog how I don't understand Japanese men, and how I'd never find one to date. Definitely eating my own words now.

This is my case in point. Takayuki.
He is a born and raised Japanese guy, yet has lived in Canada for 3 years and studied abroad in America, so he has experienced his own version of being international. We are both a mish mash of the cultures we've lived in, and even though he may be in his own realm now, he's picked up traits from the Americas and found being with an American girl (i.e. me) to his taste. Even our speech is a blend of Japanese and English (more leaning towards the home team of Japanese, but nonetheless). It's a curious experience that has made me feel even more international.

1 comment:

  1. I think it starts by finding those things you have in common and growing from there. What a wonderful experience you are having.


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