Seven years ago, I hopped on an airplane for the first time and flew from Beijing to San Francisco, transferred to Chicago and then landed in Milwaukee.
People say there is the seven-year itch in relationships. What happens after dating a foreign country for this long? I tried to relive pieces of life from the past through my own words. It tastes bittersweet.
2009 – First time leaving home and everything behind, I was 16 and a half years old. People say “they who know nothing fear nothing.” So I told myself to “go out there to encompass, embrace and enjoy.” I just didn’t know it was going to be the case for the next seven years.
2010 – Second time around, I thought things would get easier. I was hurrying off through the customs when mom said “come back and give me a hug.” Tears came streaming down my face when it touched mom’s chest. I wrote “I don’t want to leave, at all.”
2011 – It was so cold that year. I saw the largest snowflake in my life then falling from the sky. I started to think and even dream in English, but I was lost, in the distance with home and confusion with new life. I said “‘Tis too hard to live all by oneself.”
2012 – Graduated from high school and stepped into college life. That meant reminding myself to eat three times a day. On my 20th birthday, I was craving for dad’s homemade noodles. It’s been three years. I was “excited to spend the first winter home.”
2013 – I was young and curious. Didn’t mind moving three times in three months. Got involved with half a dozen student organizations and started my first summer job. Everything seemed exciting and full of life. Madison’s summer got me “this is the place to be.”
2014 – Began to dive into my passion for journalism and storytelling. Spent four-and-half months with a group of people to put on a Spring Festival Gala show. Went to France and fulfilled my childhood dream. I said “that’s how life should be.”
2015 – Back in Milwaukee, lucky me to have experienced real-world reporting and broadcast life and fell in love with it at the end of that summer. But it’s all too fast. Things are wrapping up and “I’m already missing it before I even said goodbye.”
2016 – Too many first times: acted in a play, live-broadcasted a presidential primary, took parents on an East Coast trip, produced a podcast and threw my cap in the air on graduation day that was 30 degrees and hailing. But I said “It was all worth it.”
Now – Another September rolls around, and I just finished my first quarter at Medill. Grad school in this Windy City swept through like a summer storm, scary when it comes down but gone before you know it. I survived and may have even danced in the rain.
I always know I have been very lucky, happens to be doing the right thing at the right time with help from the right person. I’m thankful for the generosity and kindness I’ve received in my life.
After seven years in America, I hope the itch will not make me arrogant, bitter or selfish, but remind me of my original aspirations – be curious, comprehensive and content.
Originally posted on September 4, 2016