To Return Or Not

This post struck a chord, possibly because it echoes a lot of the debate that’s been played out in my head since I left Taiwan four years ago. An ABC studying in Taiwan says,

“People have been asking me why an American guy needs to study in Taiwan. That sort of question did not bother me at all before, but it started to now. I feel like I should go back. I am an ABC, my parents got out of this country. Why did I come back?”

Obviously I’m not an ABC, so I can’t lay claim to the struggle between wanting to learn about one’s cultural heritage and dealing with the fact that one’s parents or grandparents made a concious decision to leave that culture. I imagine it’s not easy to reconcile.

But I’ve always had a strong desire to move abroad again. For someone who measures his self-worth in productiveness, living abroad is a free ride. Every day you learn a little more about the language and the culture around you, without having to do anything but interact with people as you normally would: eat food, visit friends, explore places. And I really like learning language.

So that’s the impetus to move, which in my case means to Taiwan, Hong Kong or Japan. The conflict is that many of the people in those places are trying to leave and come to the US, particularly those of my age and particularly for the purposes of higher education. The opportunities here are better, for jobs and for education, especially in my area of expertise. Learning fun languages aside, would I really be able to accomplish anything abroad? That’s what’s kept me here for the past few years.