I just arrived here in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. I survived about a 24+ hour flight with connections in San Francisco and Hong Kong. I am excited for the journey ahead of me that began as I stepped off my final flight.
Traveling to my abroad destination has once again proved a learning and growing experience in itself. Seated in the gate lounge for my Hong Kong flight an hour before boarding, I quickly recognized I was now a minority among the majority. I admit I am unsure of the different languages I overhead in conversations – potentially Cantonese and maybe Mandarin Chinese. Even though I have been a minority before, this is different, a different majority.
It’s interesting how a situation like this helps one put into perspective how many different cultures there are in the big wide world we live in. Not only that, but how one can be thrust into any different culture so easily when in an international airport. Sitting there and eavesdropping, to no avail, I realized and found contentment in the fact that this summer’s abroad experience would be a lot different from last summer’s in Tanzania.
Last summer, although by no means in my comfort zone, I found an element of security, automatic camaraderie, in a place filled with people who looked just like me. (You can read my blog here.) This fact made me realize I had to put even more work into learning the language that everyone around me automatically expected me to know! Accepting the challenge, I strapped myself with determination to achieve new heights of knowledge acquisition and learning concerning Tanzanian culture and the Swahili language. This readily opened my mind to the culture around me – not only because of the pressures but also because of the natural human need to find a way to assimilate into the majority and my desire to truly appreciate the new culture and environment I had found myself in.
Fortunately, life isn’t always about staying in your comfort zone or even in the proximity of said zone. Life has a way of testing our ability of flexibility and comfort. It nudges one into the abyss of things foreign, in an attempt at testing our primal and acquired capabilities in assimilation, adaption, cultural appreciation, quick learning and maturity.
So, here I am in the continent of Asia, and to say I enjoyed this whole travelling/ flight experience that landed me here is quite an understatement. As odd as it may seem, I enjoy being stretched, because that’s the only way I’ve found I can experience meaningful, fulfilling change and growth.
Here’s to the next few weeks in a foreign region of the world where I will be the minority, where I will not be expected to know the language, and where people will not so readily call me their sister as they did in Tanzania.