I use google translate whenever I don’t know a specific word, or I need help with the syntax of a sentence in Tagalog. Now I know why my French professor could always tell when I used google translate for my homework. It’s a pretty clunky system, but it gets the job done. I end up knowing more than google translate, but it was incredibly helpful when I first arrived.
It’s weird using google translate for your own language, a language I feel that I am supposed to know so well. I feel embarrassed when I have to use it. I don’t let anyone see me when I’m using the app, and I spent my first few weeks studying basic Tagalog so I didn’t have to use the app as much.
I don’t really know how to translate this type of anxiety. I’m worried that people will “find out.” They will hear my Americana and I will be something other than pinay. It’s a very prideful type of anxiety, and I know that it’s me being stubborn. But I can’t help but fear that feeling of Otherness, that badge that I’ve worn on my skin my entire life in America.
When I’m meeting someone new I stick to smiling and words and phrases I know well. I don’t banter in my broken Tagalog which makes the gap between me and my country even wider.
I think a lot of Asian-Americans struggle with this duality. If you’ve followed me around at all these last six months you know Irissa. She moved to South Korea in high school after growing up in Detroit, Michigan then to Indiana for college. She could understand what I was feeling because the same thing happened to her when she moved.
Life here is hard. I feel lonely, even though I’m surrounded by my closest family and really amazing friends. I also get to eat all my favorite food, the food I’ve been craving ever since I left when I was five.
I guess I’m sharing this for all the Me’s and the Irissa’s out there. Life abroad isn’t always glamourous. Sometimes you feel really alone.
But I know that as soon as I leave Asia, I’m going to open my laptop and write a post about how much I miss it.