My Asian-American Experience Living in Asia and Europe

Stacie Chan
5 min readJun 12, 2021

Those who know me know I have a big mouth, and have no problem sharing my personal story. But when I was asked to share about my Asian-American identity at work for Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in May, I admit I was a bit nervous. I’ve never really given it much thought because I’ve dealt with race (I assume) similarly to most Asian Americans: sweep it under the rug and, quite frankly, dismiss it in hopes of just fitting in. Somehow speaking out about racial inequity would bring unwanted attention and make me sound ungrateful for all the opportunities America has given my family and me.

I ❤ USA.

But I happily volunteered to share my experience as an Asian-American living in Asia, and now Europe. This is my every-evolving story:

Who am I?

I am a 2.5 generation American. There is no one who cheers for our US athletes at the Olympics louder than I do, or who dresses in more American flag attire at July 4th parties. My paternal great-grandfather moved to Winnemucca, Nevada, around 1900, and my mom immigrated to Sacramento from Hong Kong when she was 5. I had never been to China until I moved to Asia in 2018.

Two months after living in Singapore, I was able to visit the Motherland for the first time for our Shanghai work offsite. In some cruel joke (I promise I loved it), the team asked me to emcee the event because of my enthusiasm and complete and utter awe of being in China. And I really was in awe. It was overwhelming and terrifying to be in a country where everyone looks racially similar to you.

I heard “Ni hao” and I didn’t cringe into a small ball. Because to this day, I still have a knee-jerk reaction whenever I hear Ni hao or Konichiwa. The only times I heard those phrases growing up in the States were when they were yelled at me as racial slurs.

China is pretty awesome.

Who was I in Asia?

In Asia, never did I once question my belonging or feel out of place for the way I looked. There were many other reasons I sometimes felt out of place (my complete lack of Mandarin skills, but that’s beside the…

Stacie Chan

California girl gallivanting around the globe, writing about travel, food, life, and everything in between