thoughts on living overseas

i was at dinner last night with friends who have all moved overseas and one of them said something that really struck me. she said she wished she could tell everyone back home to go and live in another country for a while, as she just thinks it’s so important for your development (especially as we were all in our early twenties) and after thinking it over i definitely agree.

obviously travel itself is great for your confidence and resilience, but i also think making a life for yourself in a place is uniquely special in a way that a backpacking trip doesn’t necessarily equate to. making your own routines, finding your locals, making new friends, trying a new activity or hobby (me doing zumba and volunteering with kids in nanjing) all are part of making a life in a place. and when you push through the stress and the administrative dramas that characterise the first phase (along with excitement and new discoveries, naturellement) you find yourself happy in a place that you never knew you could be.
i.e. me in Nanjing: look at me! i’m away from my countrymen, not able to do the things i love (get books out from the library, cook, go to barre class, hang out with my family) and yet I’m ok. better yet, i’m happy!

and then when i left china. all the things that i felt so keenly being ripped away from me. street eats, constant language breakthroughs, pudgy babies all around, zumba, my new friends, fun conversations with chinese people all the time…. those were all things i just loved!

and yet. in london i’m back with my uni friends, back cooking (and loving it), finding new places and neighbourhoods, finding enjoyment in earning and being a productive member of society again, being in a multicultural atmosphere, enjoying architectural splendour and fun day trips.

and i realise. there are so many ways to be happy. there are so many ways to build a rich, full life.
life staying always in one place can feel one dimensional. and i’m not saying it is, but we forget about all the rich possibilities and choices we have available to us. moving somewhere new gives a new lens to view the world through, opens everything up and puts it all on the table. and makes us realise what we can do without and surprisingly enough be ok without.

it is bittersweet. right now I know that all the people i love and care about will never all live in the same place with me. that’s a hard thought. i’ll always be a bit behind in their life, communicating through social media and the odd message rather than in person hugs and walks and long lazy dinners. but how lucky am I that i can visualize a life in four cities (chch, dunedin, nanjing and london) and from those countless more, since i know what it is to pack everything and go somewhere new and start afresh and succeed?

on replay: open heart, open mind and you’ll be fine.

ps – i feel i’ve learned so much in my short life of 22 years. can’t imagine the lessons and wisdom the next 60 or so have in store for me!

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taking stock, london edition

IMG_5020Learning: what types of events and announcements matter in political risk analysis and which don’t (its all about context)
Cooking: tasty simple summery meals with new potatoes and asparagus
Drinking: beers in parks, yay for enjoying beer and english laws
Reading: just finished The Hate U Give and pondering my next pick!
Wanting: for everyone to know how much i love and care about them, even if we’re not constantly in touch
Enjoying: my new city! london is a lot of fun
Wondering: how i will feel to leave it
Listening: Lorde’s new album. i don’t know how she does it but every song speaks to me
Loving: english raspberries. they are a tangy, juicy revelation!
Hoping: for the weather to work with all my travel plans, please and thank you
Eating: scrummy cafe brunches which i sure missed in china
Smelling: the roses on every street I walk down. they smell better over here, i’m sure of it
Wearing: my navy culottes which make me feel cool and breezy
Watching: the bachelorette with a passion and a need to discuss
Noticing: the bits and pieces about England that mimic NZ, and those which are very different
Knowing: that i am so privileged to have all these friends spread throughout the world
Thinking: that i have to stay in touch with them but also focus on my life in the city i am in
Laughing: so easily and so often with dear C & J
Feeling: overwhelmed at my countless blessings, amazed at my flawed and wondrous life