2017 was hands down the year of experience and growth for me. Earlier in the year, I was given the opportunity to study abroad in Hong Kong. I had no idea what to expect at first, except a saying that everyone repeats after a semester abroad, “it was the best experience of my life”. I couldn’t be more excited.
To be honest, I was actually pretty nervous and kind of scared. It’s like I’m thrown in a random country in the middle of nowhere without my families or friends a car ride away. Although I’ve had a similar experience by moving from California to Pennsylvania, it’s on a much larger scale.
And you’ve guessed it. My study abroad experience in Hong Kong was definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I developed friendships that will last a lifetime with the fact that I’ll probably do anything for these friends. I learned about different cultures that come from every possible corner around the world. I traveled to countries that I thought I would never have access to. The list goes on forever, but one thing I would say about this experience is, don’t take anything for granted. The fact that I even had the chance to go abroad was more than a blessing.
Just to name a few things that stuck with me:
1. The capital of Myanmar, Yangon, didn’t have electricity until 2 years ago and it’s 2018. People still live in poverty.
2. A small village in Cambodia still uses boats to travel to places. Clean water is still not easily accessible to the people of Cambodia and it’s 2018. I showered in questionable water every single day.
3. Traffic lights are basically non-existent in Hanoi, Vietnam. People don’t really follow the traffic. It’s kinda go whenever you want to kind of mindset.
4. Japan is frickn expensive. I got off at the wrong stop, which was the last stop before Haneda airport. A 10 minute taxi ride costed me $30 US dollars. Talk about crying a river.
5. Solo traveling is actually really amazing. It forced me to step out of my comfort zone and I met so many new friends because of it.
This time, I truly felt connected to a small percentage of the world. It has influenced me on so many levels and shaped me in deeper ways. There aren’t enough words to express my experience abroad. It was a short "live in the moment" journey, but the memories that I carry are as sweet as it can be.
To my friends that lived through this golden era with me, thank you.