A return to an old practice in a new world

Hello hello!

Yes, I realize that it’s been over seven months since my last post on this website. I never forgot about this blog – it’s difficult to forget the fact that you have four years worth of personal journal entries floating around somewhere on the Interwebs – but I just haven’t gotten around to updating the site like I had promised at the beginning of 2017. A lot has happened since then.

Here’s a quick run-down:

  • Moved back home from my downtown apartment to prepare myself for a move to London, UK.
  • Left my consumer insights job obviously, for the above reason.
  • Met up with friends for some final Toronto farewells.
  • Moved to London while only knowing two other people in the city.
  • Found a flat, moved into said flat, set up a bank account, applied to jobs.

It’s been a hectic past few months, but I have learned so much about me, people, and the world around me. It’s amazing how much you learn about yourself when you force yourself into an unknown environment. Humans’ natural survival instinct is a wonderful thing.

A lot of people have asked me in the past few weeks on why I made the decision to move to London all of a sudden. But the thing is, this decision wasn’t a decision that I made suddenly, it was something that I started considering back in October 2016.

This will sound cliché, but life is short. It really is. Having worked on “client-side”, and seeing so many people working at a company for such a long period of time – “lifers” – it really made me realize how short life is. I sound so much like an atypical millennial right now, saying how short life is, how uninterested I am in a decade-long career at one singular company, etc. But there were other factors in my decision too.

I knew that if I wanted to work or study overseas, it had to be done in my 20s, when I was single, when I had little to lose, and more importantly, when I was still eligible for United Kingdom’s Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa. Once I enter my 30s, I would no longer be able to apply for this visa.

Then there was the fact that I wanted to grow up faster. Because I took a much longer period of time to graduate from university, I knew I had some catching up to do in terms of building my career. Everything that one experiences in the first few jobs after graduation was something that I was in a rush to experience. I know, life is not a race, but I was in a rush to experience the appropriate experiences that would eventually mature me into a better adult. (I am aware that “a better adult” is an arguable descriptor.) I experienced a lot in my first full-time role after university – arguably more so than what most new graduates experienced in their first position – but to me, knowing that I was much older than most graduates when they first entered the workforce, I knew that I had a ton of catching up to do.

Yet this contradicts one of the other factors that went into my decision to leave Canada – life is not a race. All my life, as a first-generation Chinese-Canadian, I’ve been pressured to succeed in every aspect of life. (I came across the /r/AsianParentStories subreddit late last week, by the way, and I found that I was able to relate to most of the posts on that page.) I knew that I needed some time by myself to learn more about myself without any influence from my parents. A question I wanted an answer to was: “Am I actually ambitious, or is my ambition just a result of my upbringing?”

Moving out from my parents’ place back in March 2016 was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself in my young 20-something years. It opened my eyes to how much my parents have influenced me over the years. Quite honestly, they’ve been such a big influence, it was to a point where I was unsure of who I was. It was as if I had been living in a box all these years, and had been struggling to burst out into my own self.

I was struggling in my relationships with my friends too. There were so many different sides of me that I was showing to people. If I was too quiet in one crowd of friends, I felt like I didn’t belong. If I was too opinionated, I felt like I didn’t belong. I was too passive for some friends but too strong for others. It was as if I could never win. And that felt wrong. My happiness is about me. I am aware that there are aspects of myself that I definitely needed to work on, but I also needed to find out exactly how much I needed to change, how much I wanted to change, and how much I allowed myself to give up in order to maintain these relationships. Or, most honestly, how valuable I consider these relationships that I would be willing to give up a part of myself.

So there you have it. A long blog about the various reasons as to why I decided to up and leave Toronto, Canada.

As a closing note, I’ll end this entry with this quote from an actor on one of my favourite TV shows at the moment:

Sometimes opportunities present themselves to you in unfamiliar ways. And oftentimes the discomfort that come with those decisions are an indication for how important they are to your development. Discomfort is a fundamentally important feature of our lives, and something that demands action. The actions we choose to make determine who we become, and so discomfort is the grand catalyst to growth. I’ll try to remember this next time I’m in knee deep water. Cole Sprouse

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This was one of two K-Pop related things I did in Korea over the winter break. I'm not much of a K-Pop fan anymore – who has the energy to keep up with 17-year-old pop stars anymore?! – but I couldn't resist visiting this building since so much of my teenage years was spent obsessing over this company. (Damn you, @smtown, for wasting away @zhangliyin0228's youth.) It was also a good location to meet @_starwish for the first time. We first met over our appreciation of #ZhangLiyin!

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  • Accidentally walked into the @bloomberg office building over the weekend. Managed to snap this photo of their main lobby before I found my way out. Stunning architectural design.
  • Streets of Madrid on a January afternoon. 🇪🇸 #Throwback
  • Two good-looking and well-dressed British dudes took this photo for me. I was in the middle of doing a jumping pose in front of the stadium, so that's why I'm in that awkward pose. 🤸🏻‍♀️😂 The jump pose photos ended up being super messy though because I couldn't keep my scarves down, so this photo will be the only photo I'll be sharing from this series. 😅

Also, first time seeing @realmadrid play in person!! What a dream. (More photos to come later!)
  • This looks like the most unappetizing dish of food ever, but it's got an amusing story behind it. (Well, I think it's amusing anyway.) So I'm a solo East Asian female traveller, right? Imagine me walking into a Spanish tapas pub of sorts by myself, not knowing a lick of Spanish and trying to understand how this pub works. (It was highly recommended on @foursquare.) ⁣
I stood at the bar for like, 10 minutes trying to get the attention of one of the bartenders, but he just continued to look over my head. It was packed in this pub – at least two groups of #RealMadrid fans hanging around, decked out in full gear! – so what with busy bartenders and waiters, no one gave a two-shits about this East Asian girl standing and looking helplessly at the bar. Fair enough.⁣
Finally though, I managed to get the bartender's attention and ordered a mojito. (Also recommended on @foursquare.) The bartender yells at his co-bartender buddy, and I apparently have to wait some more for this mojito to arrive. After a bit, I'm tired of standing around, and walks over to his buddy's side of the bar and looks at him expectantly.⁣
This guy is cuuute. The top half of his face reminds me of @oscar_emboaba – the eyebrows, the eyes, the hair. But he still takes ages to give me this damn mojito and the free plate of tapas that comes with it. The whole meal cost only €6, but I still want my food, thanks.⁣
Anyways, after what must've been 15 minutes since walking through the door of this tapas pub, I'm finally served my food and drink. The mojito turns out to be way bigger than the #Foursquare tips said; it's about maybe 3 to 5 times the size of a normal glass of mojito in London or Toronto. The free tapas were decent, but nothing to shout about.⁣
While I was eating and drinking though, I had to entertain myself with either my phone or the hustle bustle of the venue. That meant a lot of people watching. A lot of people watching that included the groups of local Real Madrid fans – figured that  I should leave for the stadium relatively the same time as they do – and the cute bartender.⁣
(Continued below...)