My Top Lost In Translation Moments
Living in a foreign country, you will encounter the good, the bad, and the ugly. Everyday brings an interesting of frustrating experience. It became a running joke in Hong Kong that anything that didn’t quite go your way was “Hong Wrong.” Life as an expat is great character building. Your patience will be tested, you will get insulted, you will be confused, and most importantly, you will learn. Here are my top 8 lost in translation moments while living abroad.
98% of the time the cab driver did not understand my directions. I thought I had directions and my home address DOWN PACT! Naw..it’s all about dialect and intonation, and my American drawl utterly confused them. “Wong Tai Sin, please!” Ended up in Wan Chai..
Menus and signs at restaurants and through out town were just amusing. May I order a suburban rape please?
Service overseas is quite different. Don’t expect to be greeted, checked on, or even get your food. It’s just how it is. “May I have a water please?” *Brings chopsticks* Granted, every restaurant is different. I did have quite a few pleasant experiences in Hong Kong. Shout out to that upbeat and attentive server at the TST Outback in Hong Kong!
Speaking of Outback, I was stoked to see my town in Korea had one. Being the American that I am, I just wanted a big ole burger one night. I asked the server if I could have my burger medium. He looked so confused and said it’s not beef. Huh? Sure enough, I got my “burger” and God only knows what it was. Warning! Eat at Cheanon Outback at your own risk.
Side note: Food abroad in Asia will most likely not be what you’re accustomed to. Example: Koreans LOVE to put corn, potatoes, and honey mustard on their pizzas.
5. Eyebrow Attempt 1
I went into a salon in Seoul and asked if I could get my eyebrows done. She looks at them says, “No, you’re fine.” Her eyes proceed to go to my lip. “How about your lip?” Um..no. Now, I’m paranoid. To my chagrin, I then asked everyone I know if I have a mustache. My ego is happy to report that the consensus was no.
6. Eyebrow Attempt 2
I somehow ended up at a jjimjilbang one Saturday afternoon in Seoul (that’s another story..). I was stoked to see that the bath house offered threading. I walk into the designated threading area and say “threading” while pointing to my eyebrows. I lay on the table and she begins doing my brows and begins to slowly move across my forehead? OK. Then down to my cheek and lip. No! She’s taking cheeky to a whole new level. Mind you, this is extremely painful. Think a tattoo on your face. I figure I can’t stop now. She stops, and my friend informs me she is getting out tweezers. She plucks my brows (meanwhile my eyes are closed), then plucks on NOSE HAIRS. Ouch! Whyyyyyy…I am scarred for life and now flinch when anyone touches my face.
7. Insult to Injury
People in Asia are blunt and have zero filter. If you have a zit, they will tell you. A muffin top? They’ll as if you’re pregnant. One day, I was wearing my glasses and a surgical mask because I was sick. I had a student straight up tell me that I was ugly. F for you my friend!
8. Being Single is Pathetic
Teacher, you got a Korean boyfriend? No
Teacher, an American boyfriend? No
Oh..you sad? NO!
I got asked about my relationship status a lot! In Bali, a gentleman thought it was crazy that I wasn’t married at the age of 29. Don’t worry guys, I’m totally content with being single and happy with my own company. Now, if someone awesome comes around that can tame me, that’s cool too.
SIDE NOTE: I also met the kindest people in the world and had some pretty amazing experiences too!
I would love to hear about your good, the bad, and the ugly experiences while being abroad!