Hello once again my lovely (and patient) readers! I am so terribly sorry it took me this long to write another post! I won't waste your time telling you that I will get better because at this point I'm assuming it just won't happen.
I have to tell you, friend, what an amazing first semester with CIEE. I made relationships that I truly believe will outlast many lifetimes, experienced so many new religions and cultures, and just one other little thing: learned some Chinese. The confusion, the at times unspeakable frustration, and laughter my fellow CIEE students and I shared is something I will hold dear in my heart forever.
Bradley & Jon, we miss you dearly, PLEASE come back soon.
It just makes me wonder-- who wouldn't want to take a gap year?!
After countless hugs and a few shed tears, we said goodbye to each other in December, and off we went to re-explore our own worlds, that we had left behind just four months before. What an odd thing. Being home, and being this person that everyone has come to understand, and being comfortable with this, and then leaving every single thing you were brought up to know, to pursue the great unknown. Then all of a sudden the unknown is the only thing you truly want to know, and you can't imagine living your life anywhere near the word "comfort."
Being in sunny florida was absolutely lovely, and I had never felt so blessed to feel the familiar hug of my family members when I arrived home after the long 20 hour trek back to my part of the states. After one very short month of speaking english (so strange), and a very excessive amount of Chipotle burritos, I was back in chilly Shanghai with some of my lovely Gap friends. Over this two and a half month break, I was fortunate enough to be able to go backpacking through Northern China, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia with 3 other gap students.
Simply spoken, it changed my life (just like everything this past half year has), and I truly am in awe that this life is the one the universe feels I deserve. Southeast Asia, as you all may know, is absolutely beautiful. Through its culture, food (oh, wow), landscapes, and spirituality, every single person who travels there, whether they like it or not, finds themselves drowning in their love for these countries. Yes, tourism is unfortunately a very present force here, yes, there is trash in a lot of areas trash has no business being, and no, it was not a perfect experience. However, the type of energy and spirituality that is surging in this part of the world is something I believe needs to be felt to be understood.
Forgive me, but I feel that my description of my visit to these countries will only be small taste of a large, large portion. I, myself am still trying to digest what in the world happened to me in that 6 week time period, so I will just give you your taste in the form of visual sugar.
I'm a Hun. (Mulan!!!)
Thailand (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai)
That has to be the best hug I've ever received. <3
Laos (Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng)
We are a cool bunch, aren't we?!
Cambodia (Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Koh Rong Island)
...and then back home:
It saddens me to reduce it to such a degree, but it is for the best. On arrival in Shanghai, we had the pleasure of meeting our two new gap students, Alexandra and Maddie. What a lovely blessing to receive. After our first week of school and meeting some of the new CIEE students this semester, I have concluded that the kind of person who chooses to study abroad, or take a gap year and go abroad, is the kind of person that I would like as a friend. There is a certain kind of spiritual joy that shines through them. Maybe that's what travel does to you. Maybe it forces the "yang" of life out of your soul for all the world to see. Shanghai has been quite polluted recently so it can use all the sunshine it can get.
It is so nice to be home.
Until next time lovely, lovely readers.