The little things add up, and the big things, well, after awhile they stop being so big, and in the long run that’s so much worrisome than the pressures of any day to day issue. Expat life can be disconnecting, and while you’ve hopefully made a fulfilling life for yourself wherever you’re at, it’s all too easy for home to drift farther and farther away, year after year.

You’ll miss out on birthdays and traditions, you won’t be around when relationships change to either celebrate, or help forget, and holidays that are foreign to where you are will become more and more mirage-like as the years pass. Exorbitant flight costs and days worth of cross continental travel, on top of the work schedule that had brought you abroad in the first place, make it unfeasible to go back for anything but the biggest and most important events. It’s all too easy to become isolated from not only the people you love, but the culture that made you you, and managing to stay connected will require more upkeep that you could’ve realized. Every now and then, you’re going to need to recharge.

Splurge on the plane ticket home for a week, make a major holiday special again by going somewhere unique for it, order gifts via the internet on important days, and put Skype to full use during your daily life. Backpacking through Asia during a summer or winter break is pretty tight, but eventually you’re going to need to pass it up for a solid 3-4 weeks home with your friends and family, and that’s natural. You can live it up and make Facebook jealous next time. Jacked up travel costs, pay cuts, using personal time… Trust me that none of those will mean a single thing to you when you’re there at your childhood friend’s wedding, celebrating with the people that matter on the most important day of their life. Do what you need to do for you and yours; living abroad is an amazing experience but should never be at the expense of your domestic life.


By the Way, What Is This?

Some things are better left enjoyed. I’ve had plenty of egg tart dishes before, and while this one was slightly creamier and had a subtle chalky taste that I just couldn’t quite place, it was hitting the spot after a delicious sea food dinner. My neighbors had invited me out to meet their daughter before she headed back to America to continue her studies, and besides feeding me every type of shellfish available, they’d splurged on an Alaskan king crab. After cleaning out every one of the crab’s long spiny legs, we topped off the dinner with that soupy bowl of what I’d guessed was egg tart.


Turns out the legs weren’t the only part of the crab that had been cleaned out, because after having asked out of curiosity just what exactly was in my bowl, I found out what that chalky taste was: blended up, congealed crab organs. When speaking in second languages and swapping between English and Mandarin like we had been, it’s so much easier than you’d probably expect to get as close to the bottom of the bowl as I had without actually knowing what it was that I’d been eating… I doubt I would’ve caught “crab brain goop” if they had happened to mention it in mandarin, and it was pretty unlikely they’d learned how to say “crab brain goop” in their English classes. Usually you just assume your way through it and evaluate based off of taste, and sometimes, you purposefully don’t get told in order to avoid what they expect could be a cultural taboo… such as how Americans typically don’t eat crab brain goop.


If we only knew how much this stuff boosts virility…

Upon hearing what it was, I suddenly became a whole lot less hungry, although I wasn’t at all surprised that they’d scraped out the carapace in order to make a mousse out of what would only described as by-products anywhere else. Cooks over here don’t waste, and the Chinese are anything but picky eaters. Tendons, congealed pig’s blood, fish heads in soup, even duck tongues… Crab brain mousse is just another edible oddity in the long list of things I’ve tried over here, whether accidentally or to please my host. It’s all in your head, right?


Fried, steamed, candied, pickled.. Chicken feet are as popular of a snack over here as Doritos are in the States


Tortilla substitutes or The Silence of the Hams?


Fish heads in bulk. No joke, it’s an honor to eat the eye


Even duck tongues… Actually not all that bad

If you're ever feeling adventurous, you can get duck tongues and chicken feet at just any convenient store or super market

If you’re ever feeling adventurous, you can get duck tongues and chicken feet at just about any convenient store or super market