A couple days ago in my 20th Century French Novels class, we were discussing Mageurite Dumas’ L’Amant when my teacher asked if any of us had ever been to the countries that used to be in Indochina. I had to bite my lip to stop laughing out loud.
My Irish teacher, who now lives in Paris and, if I remember correctly, used to live in Guadeloupe, seemed surprised that none of us had ever been to Vietnam. “Really?” he asked.
It’s a class of four twenty-year-old girls from America. What do you think, I sarcastically thought.
I would have brushed it off, but earlier this week, my friend Jenn asked me what Birmanie translated to or were it was located, because that’s where her French host family is vacationing. I didn’t know it, I said, but I could look it up. No big deal.
As I did le googling, I assumed Birmanie was the name of a place in the countryside, maybe in the south of France.
Turns out Birmanie is Burma.
Like, the country Burma.
Which is also known as Myanmar.
Which is also known as one of the poorest, undeveloped countries in the world.
Which is also known as—and this is the only other thing I know about that country—the country that had this crazy long period of political instability that put Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for like twenty years up until 2010 (thanks, Bono, for writing “Walk On” about her and then mentioning her at the two U2 concerts I saw immediately before her release).
Yeah. Burma. And Jenn’s host parents are vacationing there. For twenty days. Willingly.
So maybe it’s just two occurrences in a week, whatever. But that’s two more occurrences than I’m used to dealing with on a weekly basis. Turns out I’ve been giving myself a thump on the back for living in Europe and meeting people from all over the world (not anywhere in Indochine though!) and yet I still have an extremely narrow-mined view of the world.
I’m still not used to the idea of Asia being something other than a continent on the other side of the world. I’ve never met anyone who’s vacationed there, so of course the idea of someone thinking I might have vacationed there is LOL-worthy, or at least snort-worthy (SOL?)
Basically, I learned that I’ve crossed the Atlantic Ocean but I’ve still got a long way to go.
I don’t think I’ll go to Asia in the month and a half I have left in Europe. But now that I am going to try to start thinking of it as a possibility, who knows what the future will hold?
P.S. Be honest though. When you saw the blog post title, what was your reaction to “Alissa in Asia?”