05:36Emilija A

This post is way, way overdue and I'll be honest here with you, I wrote exactly 6 different variations of this post. And none of them felt right once I went back and read them. I think the problem here is that I'm having trouble explaining what it is that I am feeling and have felt. I'm going to give it one last try and just post it... So here's my best try.

A year ago I packed my life into a suitcase and got on a plane to go live in Hong Kong... And it has now been about five months since I've moved back to live in the UK. Moving back marked the beginning of a new chapter in my life, but I'd like to reflect on my time and what I have learned during the year in Hong Kong.

First, let me give you a little back story to paint a better picture of the how's and why's. I'm currently studying at university for my bachelor's degree, and part of the four year course it's essential to go on a one year long placement (internship) to work in an industry relevant to the degree I am studying for. And so, when the time came to do my placement, I did it in Hong Kong.

The whole process of looking for a placement (ok basically it's looking for work, because you have to work full-time and you get paid), looking at companies, going through what seems like an infinite amount of interviews, and then once accepted actually moving halfway across the world to go there is not a walk in the park. I think if anybody has the opportunity to move to live in a different country alone, they should definitely do it. I can't even begin to tell you about the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone (I'll write more about this topic in the future).

I remember feeling a lot of excitement and uncertainty and fear and happiness when I was going through immigration after I landed in HK. Then, when I got into the taxi and drove through Hong Kong I was immediately filled with awe and wonder as I stared out the window at the twinkling lights. So many lights! Surrounded, everywhere you look. Lights. Everything was so pretty in the dark. Everything was even more amazing during the day.

Days went by and each kept being better than the last, how was that even possible? I asked myself that question every night. How on Earth is it possible to live with every day being so much more amazing than the one before it? I couldn't wrap my brain around it. Of course, there were hard times (extremely hard times), but this place made it easy to move on.

With that being said, below I will share some of the things I have learned during my time away.

The most important thing I've come to realise whilst living away is the value of family. Don't get me wrong, family has always been important to me and I have great relationships with my immediate family and relatives. But because I have always lived with my family, or lived two hours away (whether that'd be by train or plane), I never saw my family in the way that I see them now, after having lived halfway across the world. My family is split, so half of my family lives in Lithuania, and the other half in England. Living in HK away from all of them not only made me realise just how much I value and appreciate them, but also gave me space to think and put things into perspective. I don't think I've ever said to my family that I miss them and love them in my entire life as mush as I had in this past year. Moving away meant losing the ability to call them or visit them whenever I wanted, and that realisation hit me hard. But it made all of those short Skype conversations all that more special and intimate.

It's a given that I, of course, had learned a lot about myself. Anyone in this situation would because this is not something that would be done without taking a lot out of you. I could name you two different times of when I was pushed past my breaking point just at the top of my head. I'm talking about breaking points here, people. Imagine all of those other little things that happen in our every day lives that take a toll on you eventually... And now imagine all of that happening whilst you're halfway across the world from everyone you love. It makes things twice as hard. Learning how to deal with those things by yourself forces you to learn true independence, and that's great.

Living away also gave me the space to really think and realise what qualities I value in life and in people. Going away and coming back after you've seen and experienced so much gives you a new perspective, and it's unlike anything you could ever imagine. You are now able to see that there are things that you simply do not have to put up with or spend your time on or even think about. Your life becomes easier and less cluttered, your thinking much calmer and clearer. I am incredibly grateful to have been able to experience this.

When I spoke to my family, friends, and relatives on Skype there was one statement that I always heard repeated over and over again: "You are so brave". Hearing it never sat well with me, and I could never really explain why. Maybe it's because I don't feel like I am brave at all. Moving abroad by yourself has nothing to do with bravery and everything to do with wanting to do it more than anything else. It's to do with determination and how much you are willing to do to achieve and work towards your goals. I'm not brave... I'm just doing it.

And last, the most important thing that I've come to realise whilst living abroad, is that I have no limits. And I mean this in every single way possible. I have no limits to how long I can work and the jobs that I can do; I can work for eight hours or fifteen hours and I will get just as tired. I have no limits to the things that I can dream about, the goals I can set, and the work I can do to achieve those goals. My mind has no limits - I have no limits. I can do anything that I set my mind to, and I would have never been able to come to this realisation, in the way that I had, if it weren't for this experience.

A piece of advice I have for those moving abroad, or even traveling actually, is to prepare yourself. I know that this is the most ridiculous piece of advise anyone could give, if you are someone who is moving/going to a country they have never been to before (like myself). Hear me out, by this I mean prepare your mind. Clear it. The place you are going to is an absolute 180 degree turn in every aspect from what you know and are comfortable with. The scenery, lifestyle, food, religion, people, values, norms - literally everything - is different. Experiencing it all without any sort of judgement or comparison is what will help you appreciate it more as there will be nothing it your mind clouding your experience. Be open-minded and be humble.

But above all, if you are about to go onto a similar journey or currently are going through this, enjoy your time. Say 'yes' to any and all opportunities that come your way. Make every moment count, because time goes by way too fast. I had landed in Hong Kong to go to my new home, and the next thing I know I'm getting back on a plane moving back to England...


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