Foreign Transitions

I forgot what it was like to see lots of white people all at once. I’ve been in Asia long enough now that when I saw that porcelain girl with blond hair, blue eyes, and golden eyelashes at the airport, I couldn’t get over how light she was. I kept staring at her. I’m sure I creeped her out a little. And now I’ve suddenly found myself in the odd situation of being a foreigner amongst foreigners.

Having grown up in America, I’ve seen people of all colors, shapes, and sizes and I’ve heard countless different accents. Before I moved to Japan, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to live in a homogenous society. Now, on the day I leave Japan for good, I feel …weird. As I write this, I’m currently riding out a 9-hour layover in Beijing, China. It’s still a pretty homogenous environment, but hanging out in the International Terminal means I get to see loads of foreign people and it’s fascinating.

What makes this even stranger for me is the fact that in 10 days, I’ll be in the UK to start a Masters program. Again, I’ll be in a foreign land but this time, I’ll look just like everyone there. Honestly, I can’t say how this is going to affect me.

You see, in Japan, I stuck out like a sore thumb. But most people never guessed I was American. Actually, they thought I was Brazilian. And even a couple people mistook me for (can you believe it?) a Japanese person! Either way, I knew I’d get noticed, and noticed I was. But will anybody notice me in London? Maybe for the funny way I speak, but otherwise, I expect little attention. And yet, the whole time I’m there, I’ll know I’m just another foreigner. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Sure, the clothes that fit and the menus in English will certainly be nice for a change. But when I really think about the mentality I’m going to have to get accustomed to, be it the Londoners’ or mine, I have no idea what to expect.

I’m excited to find out, though. :)