I left Taiwan on August 15 but am just now catching up on blog posts. Partly because I do miss Taiwan and it's hard to write about, but also because life's been busy since coming home (see my post about getting a dog!)
Saying goodbye to the friends I made in Taiwan and my host family was really difficult because I didn't know when I'd see them next. I pulled an all nighter trying to pack everything into my suitcases and also having each suitcase be under the weight limit. The taxi ride to the airport was hard because I was watching the sun rise over Taipei and didn't know when I'd see this again.
Then I began the longest day of my life. Literally, because I was flying backwards through 13 time zones so my day was 37 hours long. The first plane ride was to Japan. The baggage checker didn't notice my bag was 5 lbs overweight, and I got a free exit row upgrade because I asked for it since I'm so tall. However, she gave me a stand-by ticket for my flight from Japan to America. On the flight, I had a nice conversation with a Taiwanese girl who was going to Japan for a business trip.
The first thing I did in Japan was go to a desk to ask about my standby ticket. Fortunately, they were able to give me a new boarding pass with an assigned seat, so I was good there. I had a really long layover in Japan so I fell asleep a few times on those tiny plastic chairs. When we were about to board the next flight, I was so sleep deprived that when the plane rolled up, I teared up because it was a Star Wars themed plane. I think I was just too tired and my brain couldn't process this or something.
I sat next to two Americans on my flight to America. I have a hard time sleeping on planes, but after a few beers and my extreme tiredness, I was able to sleep a bit. After landing in Chicago, I went through customs without any problems (I had some questionable food items in my bags, so luckily I didn't get flagged down.)
The first thing I noticed when I was back in America, was that not everyone was staring at me. Also it felt weird to be able to understand everyone's conversations around me. And I wasn't used to the size of Americans after being in Taiwan for 3 months. I went to a Chili's for a meal and was shocked when I got my huge plate of food, because I was used to Taiwan's portion sizes. It was a little overwhelming at first to be back in America but I adjusted fast.
My plane got delayed a few times, so I took quite a few naps on those tiny plastic chairs. The airport was FREEZING (maybe I was just used to Taiwan's heat?), and all I for clothes had in my bags with me was a mens XL T-shirt, so I covered my legs with that while I slept. I was next to the little desk in the boarding area, and eavesdropped on people who would need assistance. I was really surprised how rude some people were, and it was funny because the employee would be far less likely to help those people.
Finally I boarded my short flight from Chicago to Omaha. My mom picked me up at the airport and I cried when I saw her. Back at the hotel she fed me macaroni and cheese (I hadn't had it all summer and really missed it), and I slept through the night.
I didn't know if I would like being back in America after my amazing summer in Taiwan, but I really do. Taiwan was great, but 3 months of all the attention I got from being a 6'5 white foreigner was a little too much sometimes. I'm also happy with my new job, new apartment, and dog. I really miss Taiwan and I can't wait to go back someday!
Questions? Comments? Don't hesitate to contact me!