MEXICO: Success Story from an Asian-American College Student
NOT JUST NONSENSE - IT'S TRUE STUFF!
When I first stumbled across HappierAbroad, I thought this website was full of nonsense. But as I experienced college even more, I soon realized that Winston was right on. When I went to Mexico by myself, I could see that the claims on HappierAbroad were uncannily true. I came across well-written books by academics, such as "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands" and "The Narcissism Epidemic" (thanks, Steve Neese!), and realized that this is a real-world phenomenon that Winston had recognized long ago, but which academics are only beginning to become aware of.
THE SCHOOL BUS IS FILLED TO THE MAX, YET EVERYONE IS ALONE
I have a female friend about my age who says she finds it hard to talk to random people on the bus. And I was surprised to hear this coming from a GIRL. (Let alone if you're a guy trying to talk to a girl on the bus!) She was a cute girl who loved to talk, and was super friendly, but she said she was the type who couldn't really find a lot of good friends in college. In other words, she was more genuine and wasn't the kind who would put on superficial personalities in order to fit into social cliques.
Everyday, I ride the university shuttle that takes students from the campus to various off-campus apartment complexes, and you could feel that typical American social disconnection once you step right into the bus. Now those buses would be filled to maximum capacity, but no one would ever talk to each other, except if they're people in the same "clique" (like frat, club, or Christian fellowship). More than half of all the people on the bus are completely insulated by their earbuds as they're listening to their iPods and MP3 players, or texting / going on Facebook on their iPhones. Of course they would have the "don't talk to me" aura and expression on their faces. A few times when I asked people whether I'm on the right bus or not, they just took their earbuds off of a few seconds, gave me a blank stare, and then put their earbuds back on without saying anything. And the other half would simply stare blankly into the air and look depressed all the way.
And when you walk across campus, lots of people - everywhere - would be walking around with earbuds and headphones on. How are other people supposed to talk to you and get to know you if you've isolated yourself in your little "iWorld" on purpose?
ADVENTURES IN MEXICO
I took a few trips down to central and southern Mexico just for the thrill and adventure of exploring a new country. Instead of going to the cliche tourist destinations of Cabo San Lucas or Cancun, I decided to experience the real Mexico by traveling around the heart of the country. I wasn't even looking for love, but somehow that also became part of my adventures! Although I traveled by myself to my destinations, for the most part I was interacting and traveling with other people when I was down in Mexico. Of course Americans told me I was going to get shot, but well, that's just their mentality.
So when I went down to rural central/southern Mexico, things were VERY different. Since I speak fluent Spanish with a good Mexican accent, many people there would think I'm a local "chino mexicano." In Mexico, people would ask me where my wife was, whereas most people in the US would simply assume that I'm single. One friend I met there said that he would really want me to marry his younger sister. He was really blunt about his intentions, and said that while I could get a good wife here, she would probably be able to bring her family members over to the US too.
Some girls flirted with me in ways that sort of shocked me - before that, I never knew that girls could ACTUALLY act that way! Back in the US, the most I would get is gay guys telling me that I'm good looking, but American girls would hardly want to talk to me, let alone flirt with me. When I was in Guerrero, some teenage girls all wanted to take their pictures with me, and I took a picture of them too. At a fiesta in the state of Mexico, dozens of girls in their 20's were lining up to dance with me, el "chino vaquero" (I had my Mexican cowboy hat on). A random girl in Jalisco kissed me on the cheek just for the heck of it. The list goes on and on.
And people would be walking around the streets! People walking, taking the bus everywhere, while talking to each other! That kind of interaction on Mexican streets was so uncommon in the US (maybe except for downtown party districts on the weekends). In the US, the suburban streets would be completely empty, with glum-looking Americans driving their shiny cars everywhere by themselves.
Even the music sounded a lot more energetic and happier. The folksy, rustic-sounding norteno, banda, and duranguense music would be playing everywhere I'd go. Americans would tell me that their music sounded "so happy." Well, I guess when you compare that to depressing/angry American rock music, or bland mass-produced pop music, Mexican regional music does sound a lot more light-hearted and happier.
The hostels would be totally vibrant too. The European, Australian, Japanese, and Mexican tourists there would be loads of fun to talk to. A hostel employee even took me around the countryside in his car as we toured various Indian villages and archaeological sites.
Some places I've been to are Baja California, Sonora, Sinaloa, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacan, Guerrero, and Mexico City. They're all great places! Mexicali, Guadalajara, and Mexico City had large Chinese communities too, and I enjoyed meeting fellow Chinese folks there who ran "restaurantes chinos." Nothing like wontons with tortillas!
AND YES, I FINALLY MET MY GIRL TOO
I now have a girlfriend about my age in rural Michoacan, Mexico, and she is one of the most down-to-earth and genuine girls I've ever met in my life. In fact, I met her less than one week after traveling through south-central Mexico. During that leg of my adventure, I was exploring a natural reserve up in the sierras. She was the first girlfriend I've ever had, although I did have dates back in high school that never evolved into any sort of long-term relationship. We communicate the old-fashion style - by phone, and speak only in Spanish, since she is a monolingual Spanish speaker. She doesn't have a computer, iPhone, or a Facebook/MySpace account (which I honestly think corrupts a lot of American girls). The topics we talk about would immediately repel many American college girls - and those are topics such as family (American girls: "Eww, no, OMG I hate my parents" ), US-Mexico migration patterns, religion, and life on a Mexican farm. We'd even sing lots of Spanish songs together on the phone - which I just can't imagine doing with a girl from my school. Once she even wrote a poem for me, and read it over the phone to me!
Unlike many college girls here, she doesn't drink or do drugs, put on lots of makeup, or wear provocative clothing. She is a very family-oriented person who could care less about trends in pop culture, junk Hollywood movies, pointless gossip, "come join our club [i.e., clique]", "what grades are you getting in O-chem," or "need to get into the best grad school" (often the only topics American college girls would ever talk about). It's sad how overwhelmingly materialistic and shallow these American college girls would be. They might be great at making a living, but not at making a life.
My girl in Mexico is not a gold digger either. Once I offered to buy her a computer so that we could communicate more often, but she flat out refused, saying that she ever that a computer, she would only get one with her own money. When I asked if she wanted to come to the US, she said that her dream is for me to stay in Mexico with her forever, though we agreed that wouldn't be realistic.
And Asian male - local female couples are actually quite common in Latin America, Southeast Asia, Oceania, and so on, so most Mexicans wouldn't show a lot of surprise when I told them I had a Mexican girlfriend. But among white Americans and Asian Americans in suburban America, this would usually provoke responses such as "Umm, that's weird - in Mexico? Long-distance? Why?" Ah-hem, I feel far closer to her than I've ever had with American girls. Our relationship works, and I'm gonna stick with it.
I've also chatted via webcam Filipinas I met online, and their tremendous level of friendliness would also surprise me. They wouldn't even try to get money from me - they'd just want me to be their online buddy. In one chat session, one girl said, "Aaah! Ang CUTE mo!" as her friend sat beside her. Then the two Filipina girls fought over the keyboard, and the other girl pushed her friend to the side as she took over and asked me, "Hey, what's your name?" This is like night and day compared to the US!
Final word: Just go abroad. It really makes a difference. Your experience will also be exponentially better if you know the language and culture well. If I never had the guts to go down to Mexico, I would most likely still be your typical single American male.
Feel free to give comments, ask me questions, or give suggestions. Thanks everyone!
My Mexican girlfriend vs. American college girls