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
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.
- When young teens leer at me, they say, “Nihao“. I did get a “Konnichiwa” once. (This also happens in America.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!