Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Homesickness, except not really.

It probably doesn’t make much sense to talk about Hong Kong when only two posts ago I was in Hong Kong. I haven’t talked to my parents (or anybody from back home, really) in a week and a half. I suppose that doesn’t sound like much, but being stressed with things that “actually matter” (such as schoolwork… that’s all I can think of at the moment) and not being around those you love is quite a tough environment to be in. The irony is that this stuff has started mattering less and less to me as I spend more and more time at AC. University and seeking higher education are admirable pursuits and I do believe that everybody should aim to earn a university degree.

However, I question the heavy emphasis that has been put on going to a reputable university by my parents. It’s a shame that the only way my relatives (and perhaps even family friends) judge my value is by evaluating which university I attended (those “casual” conversations I have with adults about what college I’m planning on going to, in which they pretend to believe that I have the “potential” of going there when in reality, they’re eyeing me up and down and thinking how is a girl like that supposed to get into a school like this?). Apparently my worth is also going to be measured by the job that I’ll be at. I feel that it is my obligation to make my parents proud; I am one of their biggest investments in life (if not the biggest.) Evidently, they want to be able to say that their daughter went to Harvard/Yale/Oxford/Columbia/Cambridge and is currently pursuing a medical/law/engineering/business degree and/or writing her doctorate thesis on a groundbreaking discovery that will change the course of history.

I jest, I jest. Ultimately, I believe my parents want to be able to say that I have a solid job with a stable (and preferably high) income and am very well-off, living in a metropolitan city and making what they deem to be “good use” of my time.

And here is where my problem arises: Suppose I don’t want to have a “career”. It sounds absolutely ludicrous, but it’s true. I recently stumbled upon a catalogue for the University of Cambridge advertising their department of Modern and Medieval Languages. I would love to pursue a degree in that field (whatever “that field” might be), especially this one where it’s integrated with Middle Eastern Studies – I would choose to study French and Arabic, and hopefully unofficially attend German classes because I have wanted to learn German for a very, very long time. I suppose my ambition to get into that college of Cambridge is sufficient for pleasing my parents in terms of my educational pursuits.
My friend at AC, Clement (born to very liberal Quebecois parents), told me the life story of one of his friends. His friend essentially travelled until he had no money, and when he had no money, set down his things and started working wherever he could find a job. Obviously, in these difficult times, job hunting should be a profession in itself. But I’m not talking about applying to Goldman Sachs or Bloomberg. I’m talking about seeking a humble waitressing job, or becoming a Starbucks barista (they are so underpaid, especially in NYC), or driving buses (I suppose I’ll have to get a driver’s license first). But then, what would my parents say about that? During social gatherings, what are they going to say when someone asks what my job is?

Perhaps I’m becoming too concerned about what people say about me. I’m not so concerned about myself as I am about my parents. I understand that as long as I’m not living off of their income by the time I graduate from college, I’ll be good to go.

Another challenge I would face is to learn how to live frugally. I’ve decided to start doing this at AC… though it’s going to be incredibly difficult. A quick list of things I have decided to get rid of:
  • ·            My duvet covers and bedsheet linen things (I have no idea what they’re called)
  • ·            My faux leather jacket (it’s breaking anyway)
  • ·            My hats (I look absolutely ridiculous in those slouchy knit-hats anyway)

…unfortunately, that’s about all I can think of at the moment. I don’t know how to live frugally – I’ve never had to do it and believe me when I say that if I am limited in terms of food, I start eating everything in sight. My weight has steadily increased over the past six months, but I suppose that’s something I’m willing to sacrifice for the AC experience. Ironically, I feel that my parents don’t understand that it is indeed a huge sacrifice for me to give up sports (especially swimming), which turned out to be such huge forces in my life.

Essentially, AC has made me re-evaluate all the expectations and standards I had set for myself. I don’t know what fruit this term is going to bear, but I really do hope it’ll be sweet.

Here's a picture of the wonderful snow that has descended upon Wales to make you happier.


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