Not Falling but Flying

18 Jan

There’s a great piece up over at Ta-Nehisi’s place about his thoughts on international travel. I’ve been enjoying his posts on learning another language over the past year or so, so I’m stoked that he’s actually going to Europe. (Euro Horde meetup, y/y?) International travel is a weird thing: in most cases you end up going to a place where you don’t understand the local language.  There’s a particular terror and frustration reserved for these communication breakdowns.

I was sixteen when I went to Taiwan for a year as an exchange student. I had about five months of intermittent Chinese lessons. I had been there previously with my family, but going on a week long business trip with your dad and going to high school where you are one of two white kids in a school of a thousand girls are two completely different things. I’ve come a long way since then, but I still remember the sheer panic and embarrassment that came with standing in front of the whole school and having to give a short hello speech in Chinese.

I’m practically an expat at this point. Last year was a banner year for passport stamps (most of which can be blamed on Hong Kong’s egregious overstamping whenever you pass through border control) and I went to half a dozen countries in 2012. Incomprehension is the default and the only way to deal is to move forward. My advice to TNC? Take a couple deep breaths, smile, and bluster on through. You’ll be fine, dude.

Hualien, Taiwan

The view from my window in Hualien, Taiwan 2006.


One Response to “Not Falling but Flying”

  1. Mom January 21, 2013 at 12:22 am #

    jane, please don’t tell the world you’re practically an expat. we love you too much for you to be gone so much. love, mom

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