It's really strange being a foreigner in an Asian country, not the least because you meet people from all over the world. In my life, I've only met one person from outside of North America. (That I can think of. Maybe more.) Now, I've met people from New Zealand, Australia, England... So far I've only met Ex-pats from either Commonwealth countries or from the States, but it's been interesting talking to them about the experiences of being away from your home.
One of the things I found most interesting was the question I'm always asked by ex-pats: "So, do you have that Canadian Flag sewn on your backpack?" This is always said with a bit of a nasty tone, their opinion on that habit of Canadians being very obvious.
To answer that question, no, I don't. I do have a Canadian pin on my jacket (a gift from Shani), and another one on my dress shirt. Since I get asked all the time where I'm from, I can now just point at the flag and say "Jianada!", and if I say it wrong they still know where I'm from. I don't have a flag on my backpack because a) I didn't bring a backpack and b) I didn't feel like buying a patch.
In Canada, we're always told by our friends, "Oh, make sure you have a Canadian flag on your backpack when you go overseas! You don't want people to think you're American." No, I'm serious. I remember being about fourteen and being told that American actually put our flag on their stuff so people think they're Canadian! I was an angry fourteen year old, and found this terribly offensive. How dare they! We'll lose our international reputation of being so nice if Americans go around impersonating Canadians!
People are always telling stories in Canada about other people being treated so much better once the natives in the country they were going to found out they were Canadian instead of American. Ah, you're Canadian! You're much better than your neighbouring country. We should go out and have lots of beer together! I'll buy. Granted, when I was in France we were invited to a bar after being confirmed as Canadian, but I think that had more to do with us being a group of seventeen year old girls and less to do with us being Canadian.
Editor's note: Pretty, giggling seventeen year old girls, no less. There was yummy wine, and we broke plates. It's been about a thousand years since I was seventeen, but I still want to find that wine. One day I'll go back to France and find that place again.
It seems that the habit annoys ex-pats, though. Ah, another bloody Canadian. *sigh* I guess if I was travelling a lot it would get pretty obnoxious after a while. I'm not sure how many readers I have that are either ex-pats or Chinese, and I'd love to get your opinions on this.
And no, I'm not going to run out and slap a Canadian patch on my brand-new backpack that I bought last week. I have a toque. As far as I'm concerned, that shows I'm Canadian. If they wonder where I'm from, they can ask. And trust me, everyone in China will ask. *smile*