Quite a few of you have requested regular updates from my summer travels in Asia – well, here it is; I have created a blog of my travels, and I hope to hold your interest in it as I post updates.
From June to July, I will be with family to see family. Then, I spend a month without my family to meet up with friends and to travel around by myself.
To be honest, I’ve felt a rather sharp disconnect with my heritage ever since early high school, and though I have been trying to open up my mind in general throughout college, that disconnect still exists, which I definitely see a problem in. A variety of factors have influenced me to view my own heritage with judgement and frustration while romanticizing other cultures, particularly European ones. In fact, my dream this summer was to travel around Europe, but my parents had already booked me a flight to see family in China and expected me to intern at a prestigious firm in the states after spending a month with them in Asia. After much time, research, and frustration, we were finally able to understand our conflicting viewpoints and to compromise – if I could find a study abroad program in Europe that would begin after mid-July, which would be a month after visiting China, as well as reasonably priced flights that would accomodate for these plans, I could go to Europe. Unfortunately, those plans did not work out – flight prices, as you may all know, hike up at startling rates daily, and I could not find any programs that would begin when I would want them to. Cutting my time with my relatives short just to go to Europe and essentially “party abroad,” which my good friend Nina uses as a substitute for “study abroad,” seemed like a very asshole-y move. After much repeated failed attempts at working something out, I decided that Asia could be awesome, too. Perhaps my close-mindedness had prevented me from accepting that possibility, and perhaps I was just building up Europe too much. Who is to say that I would not have as amazing of an experience staying in an Asian country?
That was also when I decided that, in order to get as “complete” of an experience abroad as possible, I had to spend time away from my parents in Asia. I cannot consistently follow their itinerary and conveniently board whatever transportation they pre-book in order to get places. I cannot allow myself to passively follow the instructions of tour guides as they show me the typical tourist attractions. I need to scare myself. I need to figure out the cheapest form of public transportation to get from place to place on my own, as I would do if I actually lived there. I need to make a fool out of myself in front of others when I do not understand certain spoken words or street signs in order to figure things out. I need to take the initiative to converse with my relatives without my parents’ guidance, albeit the cultural and language differences, in an effort to re-establish old relationships and nurture new ones before it’s too late. I need to meet different people and hear about their experiences. I need to hit up the random, cheap events that occur occassionally rather than just hang around the major attractions that all the world knows about. I want to truly be free in hopes of attaining a better sense of myself and what I could contribute, an increased appreciation for others, and, most importantly, a breaking of this distance I cannot help but feel toward my own home country. I know all these goals sound ambitious and perhaps even naive, and I may be expecting too much. In the end, I know that a large part of how this trip will turn out is dependent upon my own efforts.
Therefore, I vow to live irrationally during my time abroad away from my parents. I will take risks and be spontaneous. I will venture into unknown lands and try out new activities. I will not worry about what anyone thinks of me because I really can be whoever I want to be in a place where nobody knows me. How liberating it will be to forget about a strict time schedule and petty obligations!
Less than three days before I leave. I feel optimistic about my travels and hope to learn many valuable lessons.