It’s weird knowing that I’ll be two hours into my plane ride home by this time tomorrow.

I’ve officially survived living in Hong Kong for four months now. I arrived on August 29th and will take off tomorrow on December 31st. During these past four months, I’ve learned a lot… like actually a lot. I didn’t realize it until I was reading my menu (which was all in Chinese) and was suddenly surprised by the fact that… “wow I can actually read everything!”

When I first got to this place, everything was foreign to me. I learned Simplified Chinese (简体) in school so I couldn’t read everything because it was all in Traditional Chinese (繁體). But now I can read almost everything I had learned before in simplified and even added new vocabulary to my belt! I used to get lost in PopCorn (the mall across the street from my dorm), going to church, getting around Hong Kong via MTR, and even in the park right outside my building! Now I can navigate so easily that it’s almost second nature to me. I led my family all around Hong Kong these past few weeks when they came to visit. I learned about and even adopted some unique Hong Kong mannerisms, like Hong Kong Style English. For instance, people here say “sem” instead of “semester” and “con” instead of “contacts.

Not only have I learned a lot about Hong Kong, but I’ve truly learned a lot about myself. I’ve written about this before, but I think I have a much clearer idea of what I want to do in my career now. Part of that is focusing more on figuring out God’s plan is for me rather than focusing on making money or getting a job right away. The importance of this concept is something that I was only able to fully grasp and understand here, away from the stresses of Cornell. I’ve made friends from around the world who have taught me an incredible amount about navigating school, Hong Kong, Cantonese, my faith, and life.

As I reflect on my semester abroad, I realize that although it definitely hasn’t been a smooth journey nor was it what I expected at all… I’ll never regret this experience. I’ve grown in ways that I never imagined and cannot even put properly into words. If you’re thinking about studying abroad or are preparing to study abroad, one piece of advice I have for you would be to not get your expectations up too high and to just enjoy the unique opportunity you have taken. Not everything will be super amazing all the time, but every moment will help to create a journey you will never forget! Although there were definitely times where I wanted to hop on a plane back to New York, looking back at those low moments, I realize that they were just part of the process of growing up a bit more and it was so worth it.

I’m excited to head home tomorrow, but I think I’ll miss Hong Kong (just a little bit).