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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  • It's been an entire week since I landed in Toronto, and I haven't updated my little Instagram photo blog gallery. Lots of wedding preparation stuff have happened so far – my brother's, of course, not me, #SingleLady – but none of them relate to the photo I'm posting today.⁣
I did an epic journey via Uber and train from Canary Wharf, London to Gatwick Airport with three massive luggages and one carry-on on my last morning in the UK. It took me three hours because I had to somehow get all three bags – two of them were overweight, one of which was 31kg – from the second floor of my apartment building to the @AirTransat airline counter. An airline counter that wasn't even in the same terminal as the train station I would be arriving in.⁣
So, from second floor flat, to a 30+ minute Uber to Blackfriars, to the second floor of the Blackfriars train station (by lugging two bags 20 metres, then the other two 40 metres, repeat), to the Gatwick Airport train station, to getting an airport employee to find a trolley for me (by asking him nicely as I stood there waiting by my four bags because lol I'm not going to drag four bags across a busy airport terminal), to somehow pushing my trolley cart onto the inter-terminal train, to finally, reaching the airline counter of #AirTransat.⁣
For three hours, from 6:30 AM, to when I finally had all my bags checked in at 9:15 AM, I was running on pure adrenaline. I don't even know how I was able to do it. I was like a bull on a mission, to get from point A to point B to point C etc. But what I also remember, was my body basically crashing into a damn near anxiety attack while at the counter. I was gulping for air, taking deep breaths, and trying to calm myself down. When I finally walked away from the airline counter, I nearly forgot my carry-on on the trolley, and when I finally had the chance to sit down, my hands were actually shaking. For all the times I've solo travelled around the world in the past year and a half, this has never happened to me before. That morning, I finally understood why airports need therapy dogs.⁣
(Continued below...)
  • Not the most aesthetic of Instagram photos, but tonight will be my last (out-of-home) dinner in London, so I thought I would make it a very British one: Fish and chips, and a pint of cider on tap. 🍟

Photo taken while at a Reddit meet-up for the season premier of "Game of Thrones"! (The UK plays a rerun of it the night after.)
  • Two of four and four of four. Burmese food and Spanish food.

Loved the bants about Asian toilets this evening. 😂 Who knew toilets in Asia were so disgusting! Sometimes the only thing they have for you to keep clean is a hose, and apparently it's so dirty, you don't even want to touch it. Then there'sthe used sanitary napkins just lying around the squat holes... 🚽 Never did I imagine that conversation during one of my last meals in the UK would be about dirty toilets. 😂

I will miss my multinational Asian friends: Malaysia, Australia, and the UK. 🗺️
  • The little prince of Gellert Hill Cave looking over Liberty Bridge in Budapest, Hungary. 🇭🇺 Beautiful view, beautiful day. 🌤️
  • Three of three goodbye dinners. Mushroom risotto, a glass of house white wine, and some good company. See you in August!
  • Well, since I've been sick all week, might as well put my cabin fever to good use and spend the time to edit and share some of the photos I took on my travels.

First up, a photo of the Kálvin Tér metro station in #Budapest, Hungary. Love the architecture at this station for some reason! So modern. More interesting than majority of the #TTC subway stations back home. Did you know that Budapest has the oldest underground train system on the European continent? 🚇