This past year has been surreal in so many ways. I have covered a good portion of the globe: Hong Kong, China, Cambodia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, Switzerland, France, Germany, England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy… In the process, I have learned a few life lessons and other things that are hard to describe.

This journey started as an simple idea in my head nearly two years ago. There were definitely barriers to overcome at each step of the process, but I was determined to see my plan through. I learned to handle uncertainty, stress, time and money constraints, disagreements, so on. I have learned to initiate and continue conversations and have made friends who I will have through the rest of space and time. I have gained new perspectives and an expanded world view. For my study abroad, I had several goals in mind, and I’ve tackled them: to be more outgoing, to live in the moment, to see the world, and to better understand myself. I set personal goals and saw them through.

I have learned more than I ever could have learned within the confines of the classroom. My journey is proof in itself that learning happens everywhere. My universities abroad enabled me to continue my studies in chemical engineering. I took the required courses, but also interesting ones relating to the economic development of Hong Kong and the environmental policies of Switzerland. From personal experience, I have noted the various systems - educational, social, cultural, political - between the places I have stayed. While I was once just an intellect, I am now a more-rounded person, no longer afraid of speaking in front of others or dreading writing an essay.

Most importantly, I have learned to take risks and to follow my own path by doing what I love and not one expected by society. I am still in the process of figuring that out, but that is okay because I will continue to learn in whatever shape or form. Wherever the road takes me next, I am prepared.

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