A year ago, today, I hopped on an airplane with two suitcases I stuffed very last minute with many essentials I probably forgot in a corner of my room to a destination I had mixed feelings about for a couple months before it became a reality - Hong Kong. Why? Well, going to Hong Kong was one of the best decisions I made in my life. But this choice was the toughest decision I had to make and I still don’t know if it was the right call. Perhaps I’ll never know. I say this because what came along with this opportunity were other options that could have potentially expedited many things like my career. Important right? But I’m not so sure anymore. Everything happened so quickly. Everything seemed so surreal. Everything was too good to be wrong.
Coming back to the States, I sometimes catch myself stare blankly...at anything. I would close my eyes again. I would imagine the breeze hitting my face while riding on the back of a scooter, waddling through a mob of foreigners and locals in a night market, chugging a bucket with what seemed to have the taste of 12 different liquors, dancing the night away under the stars with my friends. Not gonna lie. It was pretty hard to adjust to reality again and wake up only to have so many responsibilities waiting to be taken care of. Responsibilities like studying for an exam, filing taxes, and not “oh which country do I want to visit this weekend”. I still can’t say I’m completely over it after one year.
A few memorable moments:
- On my way to see the elephants in Thailand, my driver almost drove us off the mountain
- My friend and I snuck into a building and got some pretty dope rooftop photos (#doitforthegram)
- Walked my friend back to our hostel from full moon party at 12am (when the party just started)
- Bought food at every food stall in Taiwan and essentially went home with no $$$
- My friend would play the guitar and sing while I study for a class I never go to
- At one point, my friends and I stole all the food and drinks at the Ritz Carlton lounge
- I fell off the scooter 3 times in 3 minutes (talk about being traumatized)
- Made my friend get a foot massage with me (he said no at least 10 times)
- Kayaked with 4 people on the same boat in Koh Phi Phi and almost died a few times (we’re all alive and well today tyvm)
- Attended a Cambodian wedding and danced with the bride
- I talked to a friend for 8 hours until 6am because I didn’t want to study and ended up missing that class at 10am
- My friends and I made a song in his room (yeah I sang and no you can’t listen to it)
- I almost drowned in water when I went water tubing and wakeboarding
- Met some of the most intelligent kids in Myanmar that can’t afford to go to school because of financial circumstances
- Introduced my friend to my families in Taiwan
- Solo traveled in Korea and met really cool Koreans and other travelers
- I guided my friend on the back of his scooter for hours and we were attacked by wild bugs for those hours
- Late night study sessions with a few friendly delinquents and got nothing done
- My friend poured out all the pretzels in my shoes just in case I got too seasick while he let me hold his hand
- Convinced the same friend to shave his legs after 2 drinks (he regretted very much afterwards)
- Toured the most beautiful hidden gem in Indonesia - Nusa Penida
- All nighter on my last night in Hong Kong
- Went to a rooftop bar and ordered the best mocktail I’ve ever had in my life which led to other drinks and left my friend in my hall with basically nothing on him
It’s been a blessing - by everyone I met throughout this journey, showing me that setting my happiness as my priority is more than ok, not living up to expectations from people is fine, and not achieving goals at such a young age is acceptable. Life is so short that it's ok to take a quick breather when you need it.
Sure maybe I have given up on something that I once thought was so important and maybe wondered what my life or career would be now if I didn’t go abroad. But it was my choice to make sure 100% that every class skipped, every test neglected, and every goal undershot is worth it in the end. And coming back here and reliving the reality made me realize no A+ or accomplishment will make me nearly as happy as I did when I was abroad.