I've always felt so comfortable in the U.S. and the thought has never occured to me to live anywhere else. The 3 weeks outside of my home environment has opened my eyes to other worlds. I really think I can and want to live in different places around the world. I try hard not to compare home to Hong Kong and to keep an open mind about things I'm not use to. It irks me when I come across exchange students who are always comparing Hong Kong to home but nothing irks me more than those who reinforce the stereotype of pompous, ignorant, and obnoxious Americans.
Meeting all these students from around the world has made me realize exactly how ignorant I am. I'm surprised when people know where Texas is when I tell them and then I surprise them when I have no idea where they are from. Conversations I have had with other international and exchange students:
German girl: hello I am ***!
me: nice to meet you! my name is Erica. where are you from?
German girl: (some city in some state in Germany), where are you from?
me: Texas. Do you know where that is?
German girl: of course! what do you think of Germans. ha ha
me: I have no idea where you are from........
She then continues to explain where in Germany she is from whereas I don't think I could even locate Germany on a European map.
New Zealand guy: what's the population in the U.S? Isn't it like xxx million?
me: I don't know.
German guy: isn't U.S. like xx square km?
me: I don't know.
New Zealand guy: looks like we know more about your country than you do
me: so where are you from?
Austrian guy: Austria
me: oh so what do you speak? Austrian?
Austrian guy: ...... I speak German. All Austrians speak German.
Facepalm. I am proud to say that I am now more culturally aware. I can say "How are you?" (wie geht's?) , "I'm good, thank you" (Gut, danke), "My name is Erica" (Ich heisse Erica), "What is your name?" (Wie heisse du?) and of course the to learn phrase in Erica's vocabulary: "I'm hungry" (Ich habe hunger) in German. I know how to say "Germany" (Deutschland) in German. I also can proudly say I know that there are 16 states in Germany and can now locate Germany on a map.