Folks, do people “categorize” you when you visit their country? I think wherever you go people just make assumptions about your origin based on your appearance. Here are my experiences:

USA: Chinese/Korean American

South Korea: Japanese

Japan: Japanese (!)

Indonesia: the arrogant expat Chinese Indonesian who doesn’t speak Indonesian (!!)

Malaysia: Chinese

Singapore: Chinese

Vietnam: Korean/Japanese

France: Chinese French

Germany: Korean/Japanese


American Starbucks: Kate (!!!). Why? Here’s the story:

NYC, 2007

Starbucks guy (with weird moustache): Hi, how may I help ya?

Me: I, uh…will have a caffee latte please. Uh, tall.

Starbucks guy: Sure, what’s your name? (they write the customer’s name on the cup)

Me: Uh…”author’s real name”

Starbucks guy (puzzled): What?

Me (louder): Uh, …”author’s real name”

Starbucks guy (louder): What?

Me: Whatever, just call me uh… Kate. (the name popped into my mind because I just read a review on a film starring Kate Winslet)

Starbucks guy: Uh, okay?!

Folks, that’s the reason why I go by Kate when I’m at an American Starbucks.