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If it looks like a duck, but does not quack like one

The struggle is real.

I am an American, born that way.  I am Chinese, raised that way.  I am Dutchified, after living in the Netherlands the past 8 years.  I look Chinese.  I also look Vietnamese… or Indonesian… or Filipina… or… “someone from somewhere in (south east) Asia”.

Image by pat138241 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by pat138241 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I used to live in America, I lived in an area where there is a high Asian population.  Whenever someone saw an Asian person, the general assumed race and ethnicity of the Asian person is Chinese.  You could be Hmong or Vietnamese, and still be called Chinese.  Between all Asians though, we did not ask “What Asian are you?” but instead just listened to the language you spoke, looked at your last name, tried talking to you in an Asian language to see if you understood, or just didn’t care!

Now I live in the Netherlands and I am a confusion to the people here.  I don’t even look like a duck, let alone sound like a duck.  I’m some bird that does not sound like a bird!  The following are things that has happened to me ever since I have moved to the Netherlands.

  1. When young teens leer at me, they say, “Nihao“.  I did get a “Konnichiwa” once.  (This also happens in America.)
  2. Every single time I go to a Vietnamese loempia (lumpia/spring rolls) stall for some food, the owner of the stall will always ask me, “Waar kom jij van?” (Where are you from?).  I tell them I’m from America (which they are very surprised) and then I make sure to tell them that I am Chinese too.
  3. I went to a party of a friend who is Filipina and most of the other guests were also Filipina.  The women kept talking to me in Tagalog until they realized I could not understand.  With their accents too, I often didn’t even know if I was being spoken to in Dutch or Tagalog.  They said I looked Filipina, that’s why they talked to me in Tagalog.
  4. Many assume I am from China.  Even after I have told them I am from America, they still think I am from China (one of my Dutch teachers was one of these people).
  5. I’ve spoken Dutch to people who replied to me in English.  Then I’ve spoken English to other people who replied to me in Dutch.
  6. Many also assume I’m Indonesian because of the Dutch history with Indonesia.  Because of that, they tell me that they like chicken satay/saté.
  7. I’ve been asked, “Where are you from?” and after I respond, they then asked, “Where are you really from?”

So being this strange looking and sounding expat I am, these are the kind of things I have dealt with.  I know not all people are being racist.  I’m also not offended.

Another thing to mention is that adopting babies and toddlers from China is “popular” to many Dutch people.  Sometimes when I am hanging out with my mother-in-law, I wonder if people ever think I’m adopted.

Within the last year, I have made friends with a few other expats (which I will talk about in another post), but every one of them are the same race as the ethnic country they came from.  I wonder if  I will ever meet someone like me.  Actually, if you, reader, are a non-western looking American expat, do please drop me a comment.  I would love to hear about your experiences in whatever country you are living in now.

And without further ado, time for the Dutch portion of my post:

Onlangs heb ik een heel leuke Facebook groep gevonden: Ik geef weg. Dit is een groep dat mensen kunnen dinges gratis geven door elkaar!  Geen geld nodig, alles gratis!  En, het kan bijna alles!  Kleding, schoenen, meubilair, warme eten (echt!), kinderspulletjes, enz.  Alleen medicijnen en dieren kun jij niet geven via de groep.  Ik heb een paar dingen gegeven en ook een paar dingen gekregen.  Vanavond heb ik met mijn man een beetje op de zolder ruimen.  Wij hebben heel veel dingen dat wij gaan geven.  Dat doe ik morgen.

As some people may have noticed, my Dutch portion of my posts does not have much to do with the post itself.  I do this because the things I write about in Dutch are just little snippets from my life that I find interesting.  Anyway, it is high time for me to go to bed, so as I sleep, Be Happy!

emmasiggy

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My ‘little’ update

Often times I want to write a “perfect post”.  I want to fill it with pictures, good ideas and tips.  Yet this is exactly the reason why I end up rarely updating my blog with posts!  It is not the lack of good ideas and tips, but the focus on trying to be perfect and popular.

I realized I had to refocus and think, “Who and why am I writing these posts for?”  Of course I want to do it for the world, but realistically, this is just one of the many hundred-thousands of blogs on the Internet.  And this is one of many thousands of expat blogs too.  Who would want to read walls of text of random ‘drivels’ from a random woman on the Internet?  Not many. Thinking back to my very first blog that I use to write in all the time, I found the answer.

This blog is for me.  I write for my sanity.  I write to not forget.

Therefore beginning with this post, I am going to revert to writing whatever I wish to write about.  It will not be brain vomit or free flow though.  That is, I won’t be writing anything and everything that comes to mind.  There will be some organization.

em_pedicure

My first day doing pedicure.

With that said, I just wanted to update a bit on what’s going on with my life.  Currently, I am taking a Pedicure course.  It is a 4 day (one full day per week) where I learn how to give pedicures to people. Not just cosmetically either, but the whole she-bang like cutting out corns with a surgical knife, sanding out nails, etc.  I should mention that the course is entirely in Dutch.  One of my concerns before I started the course was that I would be barely floating with all these “strange” terms in Dutch.  I don’t know that much about feet (it’s not in any of my studies in America) and I don’t have a medical background, except for just having a science degree.  Fast forward to 3 weeks from the start of my course and I am using Dutch terms for calluses (eelt), corns (likdoorn), ingrown nails (ingroeiendenagel), and other things as if I’ve known these words for ages.  After my first lesson, I was even surprised with how much I understood with what the teacher was saying.

Yes, life often surprises us.  I surprise myself.  I would not have thought in 2008 when I moved to the Netherlands that I would be standing at this moment in life doing what I’m doing now in 2016.

My Dutch isn’t that great.  I’ve been here almost 8 years and I know I still make a lot of mistakes with my Dutch communication.  Especially when I am tired, I can’t think in Dutch.  But I was sitting on the couch at my husband’s grandparent’s house today (it was opa‘s birthday) and just listening to the conversations and realized, “Whoa…I understand what people are saying.”  I realized how just a few years back I was still in a dream bubble.

En nu…kan ik ook misschien in Nederlands bloggen.  Ha!  Maar wat kan ik over schrijven?  Ah!  Ik weet het.  Elke keer als ik een post maken, ga ik een korte verhaaltje schrijven over ik.

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Een reclame voor de schoenen.  Kijk de prijs!

Dit is de Nederlandse portie van mijn post.  Ik ga vertellen over mijn nieuwe schoenen.  Voor mijn pedicure cursus heb ik witte kleding en witte schoeisel nodig.  Dus, vorige zaterdag was ik in de stad met mijn man en kinderen op zoek naar witte schoenen.  Ik was bij Bristol, van Haren, en ook AktieSport.  Ik heb witte schoenen gevonden, maar niet “goed genoeg”, te duur, en zo.  Eindelijk ga ik naar V&D.  Daar heb ik mooie witte schoenen precies wat ik wil.  Het was ook van echte leer.  De schoenen zijn €80, maar nu €25.  Ik dacht, “Ja, goeie deal en €25 is wat ik wil uitgeven voor schoenen.”  Ik ga naar de kassa en het was €15!  Tachtig euro voor vijftien?!  Heb ik geluk!  En vandaag heb ik mijn schoonmoeder gezegd dat ik heb veel geluk omdat V&D is nu dicht (failliet) sinds maandag!  Ik denk dat ik kan nooit meer zo goed een deal vinden! 🙂

I hope you enjoyed that bit, if you can read Dutch.  If not, feel free to chuck it in Google Translate to see what I wrote. 🙂  And as I said, my Dutch isn’t that great… and I know I write like I’m speaking Dutch.  I’m proud of myself and that makes me happy.  Now it’s your turn to Be Happy!

emmasiggy