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San Fran | We meet again 20 years later

The first time I visited San Francisco was when in my first year in the states when I was only 5 years old. My family did a month long road trip from the Midwest through the Grand Canyon and ending up at the Golden Gate Bridge. Back then there wasn't google maps, everything was looked up on AAA travel guide books and hotels were booked through phone calls. 

After calling the states my home for 10 years, I left the states 5 years ago in 2013. I was not eligible for a green card or citizenship, so I was forced to leave a place I identified as my home. I held onto it, the anger and grudge and devastating feeling, for quite some time. It was not until I realized the wealth of opportunities in Asia, both career and personal development, did I become thankful of how the turn of events was a blessing in disguise. My career blossomed and I would not have been able to travel to so many countries in such a short period of time on a low budget if I was still living in the states. 


Over 20 years later since visiting for the first time and being away for 5 years from the states, I find myself back in San Francisco - for work. It's an odd feeling, like how I'm a hybrid of American and Taiwanese, I'm stuck in between feeling like a local and like a tourist. There are familiar things I've missed like twizzlers, pop tarts, snickers... ok not just food, there's also the friendly and personable customer service attitude no matter where I go. That's something I've taken for granted and did not realize I was given while living in the states. At the same time, I'm unfamiliar with the latest culture trends especially the nuances that don't get conveyed overseas. I can't pinpoint exactly what they are, but all I know is the US has continued to evolved and has had a noticeable change since I left in 2013. 

Coming back to the states, these are my observations: 
  • The states is more diverse than people give it credit 
  • The states is much more opened and welcoming to diversity than Asia. (Oh Asians are pretty racist, it's an undercurrent you don't feel until you really start digging into the details)
  • The divide between rich/poor is much wider than I remembered
  • People are respectful, and more careful when it comes to swearing or saying any racial or sexually related comments. It's become much more PC (politically correct) than I remembered. Or it's just that Hong Kong and Singapore are places where people are brutally honest.


I've also noticed a change in language since I've left the states, and this is mainly about how words are pronounced. A good example is the word "Processes". 

Back in 2013, I know the word processes with "Pro" as in how you pronounce "Pro" in Profit, and "cesses" as in "dresses"

Now in 2018, people around me pronounce the word processes with "pro" as in how you pronounce "pro" in "Professor", and "cesses" as in "feces". I really can't take this word seriously anymore because all I think of is poo (giggles). I am also just massively confused because to pronounce the word "Processes" with "Pro" as in "Professor" is a British pronunciation. Can someone explain? 


 

A lot of people ask me if I'll consider moving back to the states. It's a tough one because I still have so many places I want to go to, and there are other countries I'm also considering to live in. And I'm not going to lie, the safety in the states does concern me. I could walk down an alley at 3am in Hong Kong and Singapore and nothing would happen to me, but I've been assaulted before living in New York and Seattle. Also, bullying both in schools and online in the US does not encourage me raising children there either. I do hope that the US does improve security and safety to be on par with other first world country. As of today it is still ranked 114th on the Global Peace Index which measures 23 different aspects which contribute to safety of a nation's citizens. 


Photos above and below are from Pier 39

 

Having lived in so many places and immersed in so many different cultures, the thing I've learned is how little I know about our world. It's constantly changing, each place has its quirks and struggles. But never stop traveling, discovering, learning and so on. If you can't travel overseas, start from your own town, go to neighborhoods you've never been to, talk to people from different places. The more you know, the broader your horizon is. You began to understand people more, how people think and what drives people to do things. People like talking about themselves, don't be afraid to go up and ask. You will also began to understand yourself more, on what you like, what your weaknesses are, how strong you are at coping with unfamiliar situations... etc 

Don't just exist, live.

Live your life, take chances, be crazy, don't wait. 

Because right now is the oldest you've ever been and the youngest you'll ever be again. 







Follow me on @ariel.land for more travel photos and tip



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