I am finally home, 3 weeks, 6 cities (new york, milan, genoa, florence, rome, and athens), 6 planes, 5 trains, 2 boats, and dozens of cabs later! it was a pretty crazy experience and we saw tons of renowned things. the art and architecture was amazing (st. peter’s basilica was UNBELIEVABLE) but I’ll let the photos speak for themselves when i post them. first i want to talk about what the photos don’t show. it was actually a pretty eye opening experience in ways i didn’t expect. of course i saw all the big sights i needed to see, but aside from that there were some big things i learned about myself and got me thinking.

  • 1. Don’t travel to a non-Asian country with another Asian person.

I have never been stared at more in my life than in the past 3 weeks. People automatically assumed we were a japanese tourist couple, and i lost count of the number of “konichiwas” “arigatos” and “ni haos” we received. Some were friendly, some not so much. The looks we got weren’t so much of an “oh that’s interesting”….they were more of a “what the hell are they doing here.” it was kind of intimidating and uncomfortable, kind of high school in a way. i thought i was used to people staring at me (and i’m not saying that in an egotistical way, because it’s usually an “oh that’s weird” kind of look), but this was on a whole other level. tien and i tried to go out like 4 times to a few bars but we ended up being the weird asian couple that didn’t belong and everybody just stared at us. i think our double dose of asian-ness quintupled our level of foreignness, and i think had it been one asian person and one non-asian things would’ve been different. people wouldn’t automatically assume we’re from japan and don’t speak english. i did get a good laugh from the waiter who asked if i was from bangkok though.

  • 2. I like to be alone, but only on my own terms.

I usually like to do things on my own and not be bothered by other people. I like to walk around with my ipod and live in my own head. however, as illustrated in point #1, i REALLY felt like an outsider for the past few weeks, and i didn’t like it.  i couldn’t understand that, because since i liked to be alone anyway, i didn’t think it would matter to me that i was ostracized (ok maybe “ostracized” is a little dramatic). that’s when i realized that i like to be alone when it’s up to me to have the option of being alone. i like to be alone when it’s my choice, not someone else’s.

  • 3. I am pretty competent when I need to be.

I don’t speak Italian or really know anything about Italy, but when i was there i was able to communicate what i needed to and figure how to get from point A to B,C,D,E… my sense of direction somehow multiplied over there. it’s surprising how much i can get done and figure out when i just pay a little more attention and be more aware.

  • 4. I need music, all the time.

I never realized how often i have music on during the day in my usual life. walking around with someone else all day and night, i couldn’t really just put on my ipod and zone out. after a week of this i noticed that i felt like a part of me was missing…it was like my body needed it to recharge and relax. after i realized this, i started to listen to it now and then, and felt better, both mentally and physically.  i’m sure tien was also glad to have a break from the obligation to talk.

  • 5. I probably have some kind of eating disorder

I have never spent so much time with someone else before, 24 hours a day for almost 3 weeks. I always knew i had some unusual eating habits (for example licking the flavor powder off of doritos and throwing away the chip…chewing things and spitting it out…) but being around someone who eats more “normally” really magnified how “abnormally” i eat. i just don’t ever really WANT to eat, and food is never a priority for me. i don’t know if i just don’t get as hungry as often as other people, or if i have forced myself over the years to believe that i don’t really need to eat that often. apparently this is not normal.

All in all it was a good trip, maybe a little too ambitious though. I think we were both really tired by the time we got to greece and were looking forward to going home. greece was actually a good break because it was a lot more chill and low key than italy, and we got to slow down and sleep in and do (or not do) whatever we wanted, without feeling obligated to go see this or that and go here or there. the pictures will be a lot more interesting and fun than this post!!!! 90% of the pictures are from tien’s camera because mine kind of broke,  so we have to figure out how we will share the pics! Oh and michelle had a great time, she is SOOOOOOOO dirty and busted looking now.