Its been six weeks since I last wrote, much less posted anything. Although I enjoy producing our blog, the past six weeks in the US have been a nice break from both travel and our blog. I had wanted to write during our time at home, but didn’t and now regret it. The past weeks have flown by and I didn’t even have time to see all the people I wanted to, much less find time to write. For our small, but faithful following of readers, I’ll try to summarize the past six weeks in words and pictures:
Our flight arrived in San Francisco and we spent a day in Fremont (with my family) before heading up to Arcata (with Joylani’s family). After a few days in Arcata, we rejoined my family for their family vacation at Sea Ranch. Those first two weeks were great, as we did nothing other than hang out with our families.
My sister, Jackie, meeting us at the airport
Our first night in Fremont, with my family
We were happy that Katie and her boyfriend Greg made a surprise visit to Arcata
Joylani and her sisters, Katie and Julie
Enjoying a good stogie with Joylani’s dad, Eric
Hanging out with my Grandparents at Sea Ranch
Sea Ranch coast
Then Joylani flew down to San Diego to be in her friend Hannah’s wedding, while I flew out to Maine to be in my buddy Jordan’s wedding. My week there was great. I got to hang out with my old college roommates, the Sevillians (we lived on a street called Seville). My friend Matt lives all the way out in Hawaii and just had a kid, so it was awesome to see him. Jimmy and his fiancé were gracious enough to let me stay with them in Boston, where we had great time exploring the city. And of course, I got to be there for the highlight, Jordan’s wedding.
The original Sevillians welcomg our newest member
From our week at opposite corners of the US, Joylani and I reunited in the Bay Area and headed back up to Arcata. We spent a week just hanging out with her family. One day, her mom, Arlene, took us to a nearby fair. This definitely was an experience and completed my circuit of small-town America, following Sea Ranch and then Maine. Our week, like the fair, was fun.
The Humboldt County Fair
Joylani’s family and I trying to win carnival games
even saw a guy get shot out of a cannon
Returning to the Bay Area, I got to hang out with a few friends, but not nearly as many as I would’ve liked. My parents had a family party at their house and a friend’s party at a friend’s house, so at least I got to see family and stuff. Then Joylani and I spent our last weekend in Fairfield to celebrate our friends’, Maya and Krishna’s (who we stayed with in Chennai) engagement. It was awesome to see all my old study-abroad friends and celebrate with Maya and Krishna all weekend.
My study-abroad friends: Payal, Alvir, Rushi, and of course, me
As far as culture shock, and anything related to re-entry, goes, I went through a progression of thoughts and emotions, although none to strong. After Beijing, the Bay Area seemed to be so rural: so much open space and so few people about. I couldn’t understand people for the first few days as they spoke too fast. Other than my appreciation for English and comfort, I didn’t really experience any shock for the first couple of weeks as we didn’t do anything really but socialize with our families. My trip to New England got me thinking about the huge differences between the US and Asia though. Nothing too specific, but rather broad comparisons between things like cultures, work ethic, senses of entitlement, politics, economics, etc. Generally speaking, it seems that Asia is looking towards a bright future, while America is concerned with preserving its past glory. Being home for both the Olympics and the US presidential race facilitated a lot of this thought and conversation with others. I did a lot of thinking moving from Asia to the US, but didn’t experience too much “culture shock.” I attribute this mostly to the fact that we’ve crossed dozens of borders in the past year and have gotten used to adjusting to wildly different places. And tomorrow, we’ll have to do it again as we head to Korea.
A couple things we’ve seen on the road that I was surprised to see at home:
awesome sunset in Fremont
crazy rainbow right behind my parents’ house
gas getting pumped out of oil drums
this Catholic festival reminded me of Ganapati
old stuff in the middle of a modern city, Boston
huge rice fields in California