Friday, May 13, 2016

The downsides of studying abroad - what happens when it's over?

Studying and living abroad is awesome, but what most people don't talk about, is how difficult it is to come back home and to get used to the life you had before. I mean it's difficult enough to leave home, your family and friends, and to go to another country without knowing anyone there, but what's worse is coming back. Not that coming back home is bad, but leaving behind your life there and knowing that you won't be going back is.

During your time abroad you grow attached to people you have just met, you become a new person and you get used to the life that you have created for yourself. You see and you experience so much. And then at one point you just have to leave, because well it was all meant to end at some point.

So you leave everything behind and what's different this time, is that you know that you won't be going back ever again. Yes, you can go back in theory and visit the places you saw and become nostalgic because of your memories there, but you can never create the same environment and be with the same people in the same place and experience the same things that you did during your time there.

And when you get back home you realize that everything is the same and nothing has really changed. But you have and you have so many stories to share and so many things that you have learned, but no one really truly understands it. I mean your friends and family try and they listen to your stories, but at one point everyone else gets tired of this. And then at one point you start losing these characteristics that you developed during your time abroad. You fall back to the old patterns and all that remains is your memories.

You want to keep the friendships that you developed, but you cannot really be together with these people that you left behind or who went back to their own homes. So you still talk, but when something good or bad happens to them, you can't really be with them. You can try to support them as well as you can, but it's never the same.

So at one point you start asking yourself is it worth it? Is it worth going abroad again? To move to another country, to leave behind your family and friends, to make new friends just to leave them behind afterwards?
Are the experiences and the memories you gained worth it?

What I've realized  lately, is that they truly are and if anyone would ever ask me if I regret it, I would definitely say no. And if anyone would ask me if I would recommend others to go abroad, I would say yes. Without any hesitation.
There are cons to everything and this is what makes living abroad temporarily sad and painful, but everything else that comes with is great. You gain life-lasting memories, learn more in a short period than you would in years. You step out of your comfort zone and learn so much about yourself. And you meet people that you would have never met.

And this all is amazing and so much worth it!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Zhangjiajie and Fenghuang - my last trip in China

I was supposed to write this post a long time ago, but for different reasons it hasn't still happened.

Anyways, after a semester in China I wanted to end my Chinese experience with one last trip to a place I've never seen and to do it with some of my best friends. The destination had been on my 'List of places to visit' for some time already and since the others had  also been thinking about it, we decided to travel to Hunan province to see the Zhangjiajie mountains, which are often known as the Avatar Mountains. I mean you must know the Flying Mountains in the movie Avatar that you thought were definitely fiction? Well they're not really fiction, because the Zhangjiajie mountains look awfully like them in the morning when the sun is rising and the fog makes the narrow and tall mountain peaks look like they're flying.
Since we had a bit more time and we found a nice old town only a few hours from Zhangjiajie, we also stayed a few days in Fenghuang, which also turned out to be a pretty cool place.

Although the Golden Week trip we took in October was the perfect description of how sometimes you are so lucky during your trips, this one did not really turn out that perfectly, but we definitely saw some cool places and enjoyed our time. The only problem was that the weather was pretty awful and that made hiking not so pleasant. Just imagine hiking up the hill for a few hours to see the best view in the area, and then getting up there and only seeing the fog. Now add here about a hundred hungry and angry monkeys and you get the picture.

One other thing about Hunan province - the food is crazy spicy. And I don't mean Estonian spicy (we don't really eat anything spicy) but Chinese spicy. Everyone else besides me really enjoyed it, but I must admit that having extra spicy noodles with beef is not the breakfast that I usually dream of. Luckily they had baozi and jiaozi and as a huge cookie-lover I luckily had cookies with me all the time, so that probably saved my life.

Anyways, thank you Karianne, Jing, Tobias, Hidayah and Alex for an awesome trip :)

Friday, January 22, 2016

China: the finish line

Some people say that going abroad is a lesson for life and it will teach you how to get through life on your own. You will get to know your weaknesses and strengths and figure out how to be comfortable with yourself.

Coming to China didn’t teach me any of this.

The thing is, the only time I felt alone during this whole semester was the first evening when I got here and didn’t know how to use internet, where to get food, or how to manage to fall asleep in a really hard and uncomfortable bed. When I got up the next day to figure out administrative stuff, I met Soyeon. And then I met Robert. And then Karianne and Jing and all the other amazing people.

And I truly believe I was extremely lucky to meet them all, because they all taught me so much about life and helped me to keep my life balanced in an environment that was so different from everything I was used to.

I met people who are so similar and at the same time so different from me. People who left behind their lives to come to live in one of the most interesting countries in the world. People who are adventurous, spontaneous and are still looking for something exciting, something new.

I spoke to people who even at their young age have traveled more than most people do in their whole lifetime. I met people who were so motivating that they made me work harder and dream bigger. They taught me to be braver, more spontaneous and how to manage to keep my life balanced in a strange new country.

I honestly didn’t expect to get so close to these people in only such a short amount of time, but I did. I really do believe I found friends for life and even though I cannot knock on their doors anymore at any moment, I believe they will always be there for me.

My Chinese experience was amazing and even though I now feel even more that I don’t know enough about China, I have a way better sense of their thinking and their culture. I had conversations about the Chinese culture, politics and it made me see everything from a totally new perspective.

Thank you China, Beijing and Tsinghua University for treating me so well!

And moreover, thank you mom and dad for always being so supportive of me and helping me to reach my dreams! And big a big thanks to my sister and my friends and relatives for always being there for me, even when I’m thousands of kilometers away.

It feels good to be back home!

I will miss you all! 

And to all of my readers, I promise to write more about my latest trips soon and add lots of pictures!