One year. Twelve months of ex-pat life. This place is home now. Don't get me wrong. There are still those cultural stress moments when I long for the American life where things make sense, where I understand why people do the things they do, and what in the world they're talking about. But this place is home.
Though we lack most of the markers of American adult life that most of our friends back in the States have (an 8-5 job, mortgages, owning and driving a car, kiddos), I still feel like quite an adult these days. In fact, I think I've grown up a lot during the past year of living here. There's something about two visits to a developing country's hospital that will do that to a person I think...
So enough of the musing...on with the humor! Here is our top 10 countdown:
YOU KNOW YOU'VE LIVED IN ASIA FOR A YEAR WHEN...
10) You English is digressing at about the same rate your Asian-ese is progressing. Phrases like "how do we say that in English?" or "what's that word again?" frequent your daily conversation. Not to mention the lovely blend of Asian-ese and English that turns out to be the easiest way of communicating with our other American friends here.
9) Your big forks and little forks, who once were so nicely separated and organized in their own compartments in the silverware organizer back in America, now are forced to cohabitate in order to make room for the big players: chopsticks.
8) You are now the easiest person in the world to buy gifts for. All that has to be done to make your day is for someone to raid the spice aisle at HEB. Basil and oregano now hold as much value as the keys to a brand new BMW.
7) The shock you once experienced from removing black boogers from your nose is now replaced with the shock of a day going by when you are NOT removing black boogers from your nose.
6) People peeing on the street and spitting directly in your path just don't surprise you anymore.
5) The thought of wearing shoes in the house will never seem natural or sanitary again. (For reasons why, please see #6)
4) The first book you actually read and comprehended (using characters mind you!) will be etched in your memory as deeply as your wedding day or the birth of your first child. Most likely, the target audience for said book will be children between the ages of 3-5. (my first one was about six pages long and with a plot line involving two kids climbing a mountain...)
3) When a local attempts to be polite by remarking that you look fat that day, you will receive it for exactly what they mean it: a compliment.
2) The near-death experiences that occur when riding in a taxi no longer scare you. Yes, that bus did just come about six inches from your side of the car. No problem, it's just an open pot hole in the middle of the road.
1.5) Frog legs have actually been prepared in your kitchen and eaten at your dining room table. (Pardon the fractions...had to preserve the symmetry of the Top 10 Countdown while still capturing that real-life experience!)
And finally the top reason you can celebrate living in Asia for a year is...
1) No matter how strange it seems at times, there is no place better to be than the place you're supposed to be.
Thankful for one year! On to the next...