I’m not Miss America (it would be unfair to the other competitors if I entered) but I’ve been in Taiwan for almost two years now, and that’s plenty long to start missing ‘Murica. I went through the culture shock phase a long time ago, and 95% of the time, I’m totally comfortable and content here in Asia. That last 5% will get you, though. If I had to say what I’ve been missing most?
5. I miss having a kitchen. I’m forever pinning recipes on Pinterest, but for what? My apartment in Taiwan has an electric kettle and a microwave, so all these cookies and cakes and lasagnas remain homeless. I could get a bigger/swankier apartment in Taipei with cooktops and such, but it’s too easy to grab a box of dumplings that cost maybe US $2. Despite all the cheap, delicious street food, I’m pining to cook for myself again!
4. I miss communicating. Being illiterate sucks, y’all. Mind you, it’s my fault my Mandarin is dire, but I miss the days when not every personal interaction was a disaster. I get food I didn’t want (one time a root beer instead of mushrooms), can’t correct the mistakes, and fluster cashiers left and right. Plus, I could be walking past the coolest stuff ever, but I can’t read signs or ask people what’s going on.
3. I miss writing events. How many writing conferences do you know of in Asia? The ones in my area are either huge international expos for selling foreign book rights, or writing retreats on islands. We don’t have the writing/reading oriented conferences like RWA or RT, and I’m bummed missing the annual reunion at my MFA alma mater (IYWM). It’s sad relying on the internet to connect with my writer/reader friends!
2. I miss my friends and family. When you leave the country, everything at home keeps moving on without you. People are getting married, having kids, and doing fun things that I can’t be part of. My awkward time zone doesn’t help much—I’m not even on Facebook at the same times as everyone else. #sadface
1. I miss American carbs. I crave macaroni and cheese and NY pizza like a woman possessed. Even though we have tons of Western food options in Taipei, they’re never quite exactly right. I miss things like buttery mashed potatoes and fudgy cakes that just don’t translate to the Asian palette. Of course, I’m not exactly starving with all the amazing dim sum and pastries around (I’ll start missing those as soon as I’m on the plane out), but sometimes you just want to eat what reminds you of home.