Eeeeeeeeee I am on the plane heading back to Toronto!!!! Home sweet home. Oh man, to be honest, it doesn’t even feel like I’m going back to Canada. Kind of feels like I’m flying to explore another country in Asia haha. But hey, going back home will surely be another adventure in itself!
My flight connected through Japan and I was lucky enough to get to stay there for 8 days. Japan was everything I wanted it to be and more. I fell in love with Tokyo from Day 1 and each day I’ve been itching and eager to plan my next trip here!
But it’s time to focus on the reality of things, which is that my time in Singapore and my exchange has come to an end. I know it sounds cheesy to say that the time flew by, but it really is true. To think I’ve been living, studying and exploring in a country completely on the other side of the globe from home for the past five months astonishes me. Going to school abroad has really been quite something. It definitely made me step outside of my comfort zone, because although I came to Singapore with people I knew from Ryerson, I didn’t have anyone I actually knew in my classes. It was almost like the first day of university all over again. I can confidently say it was more of a challenge, but in the best way possible. When I first arrived in Singapore, I told myself that I wanted to get the most out of my experience by meeting students from all across the globe, but especially, local students to really get to explore and understand Singaporean culture. From working on group projects to hanging out outside of the classroom, I’m really proud of myself for the choices I made and feel like I fulfilled my ultimate goal.
All in all, there are zero complaints about this entire experience. I could never have imagined being able to do something so wonderful, eye-opening and honestly life-changing. It sounds a bit sappy, but I truly mean it when I say I’ve learned more in the past 5 months that I probably have in my entire undergrad career. (Don’t get me wrong, my program and Ryerson is UNREAL and I wouldn’t change anything about it for the world.) But what I’m talking about is life experience. I’ve learned so much about human interaction, meeting new people, building relationships, how to be patient, dealing with pain (major reference to food poisoning + my hospital visit in Malaysia LOL), being open to new cultures and experience, stepping outside of your comfort zone, learning what genuine kindness feels like, opening your heart to people and above all, realizing HOW fortunate you really are. (I honestly cannot stress this enough!!) It’s an experience that certainly solidifies how lucky I am, and how it’s extremely important to remain grateful and humbled everyday. More than that, after travelling to so many countries and seeing how people are so happy with so little (whereas compared to North America, we live quite excessively and yet for some of us, we’re still unhappy), it’s made me realize that it’s important to live your life with kindness and the desire to help others who don’t have as much. I also learned about the loss of a loved one, when my uncle passed away when I was abroad, and realized how hard it is to be away from people you love during difficult times. But I guess that’s the thing about life. In that, things are unpredictable, unexpected, but sometimes that’s the beauty behind a lot of it. Ultimately, I’ve come to learn that sometimes everything happens for a reason, whether we can understand it or not.
Man oh man, writing cannot even begin to describe the countless learning lessons, or rather, life lessons and growing up. I wouldn’t change a single thing about going on exchange or travelling or anything that happened. I know I’m sad to be leaving Asia. Especially in moments like saying goodbye to Aliah (my roommate) who dropped me to the airport. I’m not really an open crier, but seeing her cry made me tear up, because I never felt so close and connected and loved like family by someone in such a short period of time.
But I guess the one thing I’ve also realized is that this isn’t good bye. I know and hope that I’ll be back in Asia again, whether it be for travel, work, Aliah’s wedding (we made a promise that we’d attend each other’s weddings no matter what), or who knows what. This is most certainly not the end of adventures but rather, the start of a new one. The adventure of living life more openly with wider eyes and a bigger heart that will consistently thrive for new experiences.
10 countries, 19 cities, and 18 flights later, my passport is filled with a lot more colour but more important, my heart and perspectives are richer and more open than I ever imagined. If you get the opportunity to travel, whether it be a school exchange, a leisure trip, work or whatever, I cannot recommend enough taking the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new experience. Even if it’s just a summer road trip, take the time to explore something new and step outside of your comfort zone. I’ll remind you that things will not always be easy, but remember to keep your head up, stay patient, humble and inspired. The beauty of life lies in the challenges we’re given and how we overcome them.
Much love and never stop exploring!
“It’s not how much we have, but how much we enjoy that makes happiness” – Charles Spurgeon
P.S. UPDATE! I’M BACK IN THE LOVELY CITY OF TORONTO!! Also, I was greeted by my family at home with a super cute banner on the garage and a welcome home sign (it’s always been a dream to get a welcome home sign LOL).