i can’t wait until i can afford my taste in clothes
Before delving into my thoughts about this topic, let me say first that I love Valencia and furthermore Spain, and I’ve enjoyed my time here in Europe so, so much. I’ve only spent a month and a half in this continent an ocean away from my real home, but now I consider Valencia like another home. When I first arrived, everything was so strange to me like the times when people eat, the siesta(a period of rest in the afternoon), the streets, the public transportation system, the lack of English speakers, the different clothing stores, the style of clothing as well, the time when people go out to party, and I mean, the list goes on and on. But now, I’m really used to the Spanish way of life. I’m sure that when I return to the US, I’m going to miss being able to live without having to drive everywhere. I know that it’s going to be really hard to get used to eating schedule there again. There are going to be plenty of things that I’ll miss when I leave Valencia just like now I miss my family, my friends, Chipotle, high-quality sushi from Shiki, among other things.
However, there’s something here that has bothered me even though it’s something I’ve experienced in the US. The discrimination here in Europe has bothered me a lot during my time here. It’s not that they don’t allow me into places or commit hate crimes, but they’re micro-aggressions, childish taunts, misunderstandings due to ignorance. In the US, we have a society described as “the salad bowl of cultures”. Because of this, I think that we have a better consciousness than many European countries.
Let’s go back to my childhood.
This little girl on the left was me when I was 10 years old. To the right is Andrea, my childhood best friend. We were 2 of maybe 6 or 7 Asian people in our entire class throughout elementary and high school. Growing up in a primarily white town, I became accustomed to American culture. My parents didn’t force the Filipino culture upon my siblings and I much. We weren’t exposed to the traditional dances nor did we observe many customs like the debut of girls when they turn 18. Except our observances of Catholic customs and Filipino cuisines, we were fundamentally American children equal to the majority of our friends. The only difference was that we weren’t white.
For the majority of my life, my friends have been white, and I’ve always been “the token Asian”, even though people would tell me I’m not really Asian, but rather a Twinkie, yellow outside and white inside. Also, people frequently tell me, “You’re really pretty for an Asian” or ask me, “Where are you really from?” as if answering that I’m from New Jersey or Virginia isn’t enough because I have tan skin. I’ve lived my whole life hearing these racial micro-aggressions that imply that being Asian is a disadvantage. Honestly, for most of my life, I was actively rejecting the Filipino culture.
However, I think that the difference between the way I’m treated by Americans and Europeans is caused by the different degrees of ignorance. In the US, generally the racial things people say to me don’t offend me that much because most of the time they’re subconscious things. Here in Europe, the discrimination that I’ve experienced has surprised me a lot because they were jokes made about me when I was about 8 years old by kids of about the same age. The other day, for example, there were two guys about the same age as me, and when I passed them, they said to me, “Ni hao, ni hao” in a really disrespectful manner. I would have said that they’re idiots because I’m not from China, but it wouldn’t have made a difference, you know? I didn’t want to fulfill their desire to make me mad, but I can’t help but feel upset now. It caused the resurgence of all my insecurities from childhood. I’m always going to be different no matter where I am.