As much as I enjoy learning new things and experiencing new cultures, sometimes it gets to be too much. I spent four weeks here, and the closest thing I’ve done to my Chinese-American identity was buy shoddy soy sauce and take a bus that happened to go through Chinatown. Other than that, I grew distant from what I related to as my Home experience.
I underwent something like this during my adjustment period to Duke, when I no longer heard Chinese on the day-to-day because my parents and grandparents were many miles away. I no longer ate Chinese food for almost every meal (surprisingly never got tired of it at home). I no longer saw any Chinese art or paintings on the walls, but only the oh-so-lovely Eggshell (?) paint of my new Bassett home. I really missed the massive Chinese family parties, the strong sense of community that just seemed absent.
And while I did find a strong community at Duke, and while I do really enjoy my cohort here at DE San Francisco, I decided to take a day for myself to go and re-immerse myself into my culture.
Sunday, July 2nd. First stop: the Asian Art Museum. With over 18,000 pieces of art in it’s collection, I couldn’t get through it all in one day. Not only was there Chinese art, but Indian, Korean, Japanese, and many more were represented. After a few hours of standing and looking, my brain was bursting with information and my feet were crying for help. So Wandi, another Duke Engage intern, and I went looking for something else.
Second Stop: Dim Sum. We went to a place in the Richmond, and the food was delicious. There was a bit of a miscommunication when I was ordering, but long story short I got 3x the amount of food that I intended to. Oops? I didn’t regret it one bit.
Third Stop: Chinese supermarkets and pharmacies. I went in and got frozen dumplings (a household staple during my childhood. Ate approx. five bags (~30 pcs/bag) a week, along with other small Asian snacks that reminded me of growing up (haw flakes, hi-chews, pocky). This really brought back some memories.
Fourth stop: Bubble Tea shop. After all this, we decided that we weren’t quite done with the day. We stepped into this small bubble tea shop and got this ice-jelly-cream-thingy that was absolutely delicious and cheap too! Really rounded off the day.
Looking back on the day, all I really did was look at art and then eat my way through Richmond. Regardless, it was extremely refreshing to ground myself in things that felt so familiar in a place that felt so foreign. Even though I’ve grown to love trying new experiences, it never hurts to anchor yourself to your own identity lest you start to feel adrift!
P.S. Made a healthy (albeit bland) rice dish soon after my weekend.