St. James' Park

Wake up to new perspectives

It’s my birthday today. I’m typing this while sitting on the bed of my Airbnb, a place I’m staying at temporarily until my new flatshare is ready for me to move in.

It’s been a hectic couple of months. It feels like a lot has happened.

I got a new supervisor at work, so there’s been some adjustment around there. I finally moved out of my terrible houseshare, so I feel like I can finally breathe now. I also found a consistent group of friends I could rely on for chill times. It’s getting better.

The important point though is that today has been the first day I’ve had off from work since January. I don’t know how full-time salaried workers in London do it. Especially those who work in far more stressful occupations than I do. I don’t know how they can survive from the beginning of January until the Easter bank holiday long weekend without taking a single full-day off from work. That just sounds unhealthy to me.

Speaking of work culture, I had a nice chat the other day with a guy who used to live in Toronto about the differences between the job markets in Toronto and London. The summary of that conversation is that it’sΒ way more difficult to find a job in Toronto than in London. In London, there are more jobs than there are people. You’re paid a bit less in London, but it’s easier to find a job; in Toronto, it’s the opposite. Salary aside though, company cultures in London are a tad better than in Toronto. It’s not uncommon to find someone working at the headquarters of a major company, so because of this, these companies actually treat their employees pretty well; their HR departments care more than just filling in the next hole.

So anyway. I feel like I’ve finally settled in London. The first six or seven months were actually really difficult; it wasn’t until I looked back did I realize that it really was a challenging time for me. There were so many things I needed to adjust to, so many things I needed to realize that “that’s just how things work around here”, so many cultural things I needed to peacefully acknowledge… Some things you just can’t argue or fight over, because that’s how things always were. I just needed to stop and realize there is a difference between “peacefully acknowledging” and “accepting”.

Now that I’ve settled in London, I finally want to take the time to open up my mind to start on what I came here to do – to learn about different perspectives.

Toronto is arguably the most multicultural city in the world. Over 50% of the city population identify themselves as a visible minority. But if you grew up in theΒ city, unless you really push yourself to immerse yourself in other cultures, you’re kinda just stuck in the culture you grew up in. And by that, I mean that personally, I limited my own thinking by not making a more conscious effort to learn more about people outside of the East Asian ethnicities. I was comfortable, and I knew it. So I made the decision to physically move out of the city and to move outside of my comfort zone. I was tired of hanging around East Asian people all the time. If we, as East Asian people, want more people to see us as regular human beings, we have to make a conscious effort to expand our networks too. To show that we’re all just regular joe’s, and we deserve to be seen as humans and not some sort of exotic being.

All that said though, I don’t know if I’m only saying all of this because I’m on my day off from work, and my mind is finally relaxed enough to think about life, or because I actually mean it.

I guess we’ll see. I’ll check in with myself a month from now to see if I really did mean what I said.

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That was me going into the movie. I've been positively obsessed with this movie for the past two months - reading all the spoilers, following all the critical reviews, checking box office numbers every day... I needed it to succeed in North America because I knew that if it succeeded in Canada and the United States, it meant that we could get more of these projects. More Asian actors in the Western hemisphere starring in Western film projects. ⁣
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What I didn't expect though, was how anxious I would actually end up feeling when I sat there in the cinema lobby watching all the audience members file in into the movie. Majority of them were white. There were Asians (East Asians), sure, but most of them were white. When I realized this, after having sat down in the theatre, I started feeling a bit nervous. Would this UK audience react to this movie the way the US audiences have? Would this UK audience react to this movie the way I wanted them to? Would they understand the references? Would they get the jokes?⁣
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If I was watching this movie in Toronto, I wouldn't have been as nervous. I knew that the movie would succeed. East Asians are everywhere in Toronto; we are the majority visible minority group. And having grown up in a multicultural Western city like Toronto, we were like Asian-Americans. We would come out to support this, no question about it... ⁣But I'm not in Toronto, I live in London UK now.⁣
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I've been through so many experiences here in the UK where I've been made to feel ashamed of my culture, that when I sat in the theatre, I realized that this film experience would be way more personal than I thought it would be. Now that it has succeeded in the States, and the sequel is a guarantee, I needed an almost all-white British audience, in a country vocally proud of its imperialist history, to really embrace and enjoy this movie. ⁣
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(continued below...)
#CrazyRichAsians
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