Friday, July 1, 2016

O Canada

Today is Canada's 149th birthday, but instead of celebrating, I'm actually going through reverse culture shock. It's similar to what I went through when I arrived in Villacarrillo. Whereas here I feel very comfortable being Asian, because I'm no different from the majority, I've become so used to Spanish customs that Canada is weirding me out right now.
Fought sadness on plane to Canada by drinking Spanish wine, and watching Zoolander Spanish.

Reverse culture shock makes me feel like this.
 Take the weather, for instance. 16 - 20 degrees Celsius. I AM COLD, because in Jaén right now it's between 35 - 45. At last week's Greek festival, my friends ran towards the shade while I kept walking amongst the stands, soaking up the sun. When we ducked into air conditioned bars, I was shivering. While at the festival, I noticed something amongst my friends when we accidentally got separated - it's almost as if people don't care where their friends are. I know we care about each other, but when we got split up, no one tried to search for the others nor call their phones. Everyone said, "Whatevs, we'll just see each other at the pub at 6 p.m.", and we did. In Jaén, my friends and I would've circled and circled until we all found each other. No soldier left behind.

This seemingly "I don't care" image extends to people in general in my gigantic city. I know people actually do care, it just ends at a certain point. While the intense staring I experienced in Jaén sometimes drove me crazy, I adopted this lookie-lou habit, in that when there is a situation I look and look, making sure everything ends okay. During one metro ride, at the opposite end of my car a man collapsed on the floor. While the paramedics were treating him, about half kept looking but the other half went back to their cell phones. I guess they assumed the paramedics had it covered, but while I may have acted this way before adopting habits from small-town Jaén, now it seems...cold. Now when I enter an elevator or board a bus, I want to say hi but sometimes people don't even look at me.

I have two massive pet peeves in terms of public transportation. 1) There are soooooo many mentally insane or drug-addicted people in my city. 2) I absolutely hate being able to understand people's idle chitchat. At least when it was in Spanish, it was an opportunity to practice. But here, everyday conversations seem so inane. 

You know what does bring me great joy? The diverse food choices here. Jaén has maybe one or two mediocre Chinese restaurants, and I know of only one incredibly expensive sushi joint. My hometown restaurants are extremely diverse, but eating or drinking outside of the house is SO EXPENSIVE here. No free tapas, and alcohol is taxed heavily. I begged the waiter for a little bowl of nuts to go with my beer and he didn't know what to make of my request.

The HUGE breakfast menus are so different from Jaén's 'Tostada y café'

I had an interesting experience while in my hotel near the Barajas airport in Madrid. When I arrived in September 2013, I never left my hotel to eat. I was too nervous to go out and speak in Spanish. This time, I searched for a bar crowded with people (a sure sign that you'll eat well). I was confidently able to order my 'pincho' and tinto con casera, ask questions about the food, and chat with the bartender. Two days in a row. It amazes me how much I've grown in the past three years.

Spicy Hot Pot. I gladly burped all the way home.
Now I'm home, where the selection is unbelievable....I have eaten Asian food EVERY DAY and I'm happy to report that I'm getting fat. :)  When I went to the local market to buy cereal, it took me like FIVE hours, there were so many brands to choose from. Expensive, too.
This mansion is NORMAL where I live. My god.
Since my arrival, I've been going through periods of sadness and fear, because I really miss the good times in Jaén. I'll be taking advantage as much as I can in seeing my friends, catching up, and celebrating what is good about Canada.

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