I have moved a lot, but I have never been comfortable packing. Neither was I now when I was packing for Hong Kong. It is something that is far outside my comfort zone. It consists of so much more than just throwing your things into a somewhat larger bag and setting off to foreign lands. There is deciding what to bring, what you should maybe-bring and what to leave behind. And that is exactly what makes it so hard: what do I leave behind? For me, packing has always been a little more of an existential crisis than a pre-departure procedure.
This is not my first time abroad. In fact, I have lived abroad since I was 18. That was my first time in China. I wanted to escape really badly, and I thought that Sweden was boring, that all of my friends thought similarly and that I was made for something more significant than what my daily life could offer. So I applied for the Chinese Government Scholarship, after I had taken Chinese at my school for one semester. All you needed was to pass an HSK (Hanyu Shipping Kaoshi 汉语水平考试), do some speaking and singing (which was easy to memorise) and there you go – paid tuition, paid accommodation, 150 pounds on your account monthly for a year. (Highly recommended it if you’re looking for a gap year before or after your BA). That trip was easy; I was longing to be far away. That time I packed my bags 4 am before a flight at 8 am. There was nothing sentimental about me leaving.
This time I am going for a different reason. I am no longer escaping the dull teenage-life. I am going with a goal, an ambition to develop myself. But I am also older now. I have deeper ties and bonds, and leaving when you leave something precious behind is suddenly not so easy.
There are several things that I am leaving behind; some are harder to leave than others. First and foremost, leaving the loved ones is perhaps one of the hardest things. Especially after you have had this one-in-the-lifetime summer with wonderful people. But what I have learned after I have moved about 15 times in 5 different countries is that those who really value you, will stick with you through thick and thin – just with a little of your own space.
I will also be leaving my comfort zone, my habits and routines. Is it bad that I am leaving these behind for a while? I do not think there is a “Yes or No” answer to that. Some people like routines and some do not. But I think that when you are as young as we are, it is never wrong to change your familiar patters. For all you know you might fall in love with what is ahead of you. Or, you will be more certain that what you did was the right thing for you. But remember, you will be leaving your bad habits too, and that is always a plus!
One of my friends once said:
“Travelling is not the key. Going travelling is like 2 x 2 = 4. You can throw around the factors, but the product will always be the same. So are people, they can travel countries, he said, but they will not change who they really are”.
I have been thinking of that he said, ever since he said it. In fact, I think I am still thinking about it. Perhaps, we humans like to think that we are born a certain way, that we are born with an unchangeable inner personality. Maybe that is why some people keep a close track of their horoscope, birth element and all that. I fully respect that, and sort of believe in horoscope myself. But just because you are born with a certain personality, does not mean that there is no room for more. Perhaps my friend is right, and people do not change, but they surely become less or more of who they are.
I do not want you to be cynical and have a hard, self-protective shell. That is why throughout this blog, I am going to encourage you to think for yourself and tell me later: How can you become a better YOU with the help of the international exchange program?
Meanwhile, wish me luck while I am hoping that I have packed everything that I need and remember:
Great things never came from comfort zones
Loads of love,
Veronica, made in China.
P.S. I am always yours here: firstname.lastname@example.org