Almost goodbye New Zealand

Yes yes, I know. I haven’t posted on here in a month. I broke my goal I set for myself at the start of the year. In one of my earlier posts I said that after much contemplation over what I should be doing in my half gap year in 2014 I decided on two main things: 1) Get a job once I got back to New Zealand. 2) Write on my blog at least once a week. Looking back over 2014 so far, I have experienced and learned many new unexpectedly things.

My part time job at a café has been great a learning experience to say the least. In the almost five months I’ve worked there, I have learned the art of coffee making. It took a while for me to master the skill of milk texturing but I got there in the end. As I am nearing my last week at work I have finally become competent at being a barista. As my time is nearly over, I have memorised how each of the regular customers likes his or her coffee. Getting to make coffee is definitely one of my favourite parts about this job. I have also learned the art of sandwich and Panini making. This has been my first proper job and in so many ways it has been a rewarding process. It may not seem like much but through working at a café, it has equipped me with skills and common sense -that wasn’t so common…

I also became a resident writer at the Undergraduate times. This is an online news site founded, run and produced entirely by undergraduates. My commitment to this site is one of the predominant reasons for my absence on here. I have been trying to find topics to write about and then proceeding to write somewhat decent articles. There I say it- another valuable learning experience. Sometimes I think I have bit off more than I can chew by becoming a writer for The UG times but hey, what’s the harm in pushing myself outside my comfort zones right? (Excuse the cliché)

It is absolutely bewildering to think that a year ago I had started constructing my commonapp and delving into a pit of stress and worry for what would come of 2014. I had no idea where- which country- I would be attending university. I didn’t even really plan out what I wanted to be studying for the next four years. My looming future was one big fat question mark.

A year later, I am still not at university. Ah, the beauty of New Zealand running on a different academic year to the US. I never imagined that I would be attending the school of my dreams this time last year. It was a realm that I had not dared to dwell on.

Since December 2013, I have been extremely ecstatic and excited for august 2014 to arrive. Ironically, now that August is here and in less than 10 days I fly far away from this safe and warm nest, I am left uncertain and nervous. Don’t get me wrong, I am still very much anticipating this next great adventure but in some ways I feel that I have unfinished business in Auckland. All of a sudden there are too many things I want to do in Auckland.

For the past few years I have dreamed about leaving New Zealand to waltz with the big bad world. When you are growing up it seems like so much of your life is out of your own control and everything outside of your life is there simply to tease you. At least for me that’s how it was. Its always when you are about to leave someone that you realise how important they are to you isn’t it? It’s always when you can’t have something that you start you miss it. New Zealand is truly a piece of heaven on earth and I am grateful to have a blessed upbringing on this land. At the same time, I know there is so much out there in the world to experience and discover.

So as much as this next chapter may seem daunting, deep down I know that I should buckle down and get ready for the ride.

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Travel Diaries: Guilin

My recent trip to Guilin, Yangshuo was simply incredible. Unlike the rushed and tiring itinerary of our tour group holiday in Hainan, our time in Guilin was relaxing yet full of worthwhile activities thanks to my grandpa’s well thought out daily plans.

One of the highlights from this holiday was gliding along on the bamboo rafts on Yulong River, also known as the ‘little Li River’. Both sides of the water are surrounded by the signature hills of the area and bamboo forests with signs of the occasional primitive civilisation of a few locals. These signature mountain ranges are all uniquely and strangely shaped. On a misty day, the scene is stunning. It was like I had escaped society and into a picturesque book. It was not peak tourist season and apart from us on the bamboo rafts there were very few other tourists, making the experience all the more intimate. It was almost unreal. I wish I had a notebook with me at the time, capturing the essence of the moment and exactly how the scene made me feel rather than trying to recreate the experience by writing this a week later.

The famous tourist street ‘West Street’ or ‘Xi Jie’ was also full of gems. From Chinese cuisine restaurants to western cafes and bars to souvenir shops, West Street is as eclectic as it is cultural. The majority of visitors here are tourists from all over the world and throughout China. One can hear various languages spoken on this street. This street holds a fusion of west and east. The courtyard like setting with an old oriental style fused with the jazz and pop music played by the bars at night makes an ambience of both quietness and noise, and chaos and elegance. My favourite place on this street is a cosy and quirky place called Ryley’s Café. There is a bookshelf near the entrance overflowing with books both in Chinese and English. On the opposite wall there is a note board full of random messages left by strangers. There is a small stage for live performances at night. The walls are ornamented with vintage posters and records. The bar at the back is lit with LED lights. It is a place where one could spend hours reading, writing, talking or scrolling through the Internet.

My trip to Guilin, Yangshuo made me want to travel and explore more. It reminded me of when I backpacked in Vietnam and Cambodia on a world challenge expedition with school. There were many backpackers in Yangshuo. When we were driving back to Yangshuo on the bus from having seen the Silver Caves, we stopped by the road to pick up two western backpackers. It startled me a little when I heard them speak Chinese. I find it somewhat refreshing and amusing hearing foreigners speak the language. Yangshuo is a place definitely worth visiting if you ever travel to China!

Photos will be uploaded soon!

What’s my next move?

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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about where to next. My time in China has given me various aspects to think about. New things. I’m not sure if I like this ‘growing up and sorting out my stuff’ business but inevitably, I must deal with it. I think it’s important to strive to find a meaningful goal to work towards. It gives a greater purpose to the actions you make and the thoughts you ponder. In no manner am I saying that my life up till now has been a movie-like reel of single-minded motivation for the ultimate aim. I do not mean any of this in a pretentious way, as I am simply trying my best to express the thoughts that have been racing across my curious, jumbled and still foolish mind.

 

Graduating from high school is an event that turns a monumental page in the 7 years of that chapter. Whether you couldn’t be more ecstatic about leaving that place, more sentimental or sad that you had reached the end of a wonderful chapter of your story, or like me, you were uncertain and filled with mixed emotions about graduating, leaving high school means leaving a place of the tried and safe and treading into the unknown waters of reality. Because lets face it, for most students high school, high school and all that before it is a time where we have others (namely parents and teachers) making the salient decisions and taking the greater responsibility for our lives. Our choices during that part do not have tremendous consequences on the bigger part of our lives and more often than not, we live in this sheltered bubble that does not accurately reflect the nature of reality. From hereon, bigger responsibilities and bigger concerns are

 

I’m going to university (or college as the Americans call it) in September and I desperately do not want to waste away these 8 months. It’s already February; I say this as I shake with abject fear at how fast time passes by. Time really does not wait for anyone. It hit me a few weeks ago that this period of my life, this ‘bridge-between-high school-and-university’ (the preface to the next volume of my life series) is a time that I will probably never have in my life ever again. When will I ever have the opportunity to take the good part of a year off where I am living for just myself? A selfish time where pragmatic concerns such as paying the bills, finding a job in this economic slump, or even taking care of my husband and children (if I ever get married and have kids…) are non-existent. So I hope that what I am doing now and what I plan to do in the following months will not only make me happy but also have a meaningful whether, big or small impact.

 

My life thus far has not been particularly eventful and I have lived a relatively sheltered life. I am not extraordinary and neither is my story. However, I feel that now is the start where I can orchestrate my next chapter and the many (I hope) to come into colourful pages full of adventure. And this is where I’m stuck. My initial disbelief and utter excitement at my acceptance to my dream school has worn off slightly now. Don’t get me wrong, I am still extremely grateful and happy about this news, but I feel that I can no longer just dwell on this news, I must figure out my next move. Since a few months ago, once adults realised that I’m not in high school anymore, the platitude questions started shooting. ‘What are you going to do now?’ ‘Which uni are you going to?’ ‘What are you going to study?’ ‘Which career do you want?’ For someone who has their next move and the ones after that planned out already, those might be easy questions to answer. But for someone who’s indecisive and can’t even decide on which meal to order at a restaurant without taking forever, those questions are awfully difficult to respond to. I have no clue how I managed to formulate responses to all those college application essays…

 

Through all my thinking and over-thinking I have arrived at two ‘next moves’ for the forthcoming 5 months. A) To write on this blog at least once a month (or at least 4 posts per month). I’ve always enjoyed writing and rather than keeping everything bottled in my mind and journal, why not publish it on the Internet. Although I don’t know who would want to read what I write, I hope someone in this realm of the web will find my writing somewhat interesting. If not, then at least I’ll always have an online archive to keep for my own personal musings. B) Get a job. A job will keep me busy and I need to find a way to make my bank account grow… Fingers and toes crossed that in mid March (which is when I arrive back in Auckland) I will be able to get a job somewhere. My plan is to apply online around the end of February as most students will be returning to university and hopefully there will be more job positions available.

 

So there are my next two moves. Not very exciting and as much as I would like to say by some dramatic epiphany I arrived at two very life changing conclusions, in reality it was a rather frustrating process. I am excited about whatever is waiting for me this year. Despite being an 18-year-old girl who is still figuring many things out, as aforementioned I know that the most exciting and bigger things lie ahead. Things always have a funny way of working out.

 

Here’s to new beginnings!