On Inevitable Departure and Homesickness

Two more months.

This week marks the (more than) halfway mark of my time in Singapore/South East Asia. Admittedly, I’ve spent most of my time either within the boundaries of NUS or outside Singapore, and not enough within the city-state itself. Looking back at my aggressive travel/school itinerary, sometimes I wish that I chose to spend a full year here (like my good friend, geography study buddy, all-star swimmer extraordinaire, Grace). There simply is not enough time to appreciate all that the city has to offer, especially when FlyScoot, AirAsia, Tiger Air and Jetstar come knocking at your inbox with amazing flight deals…

Traveling is akin to scattering pieces of your heart in your favourite places in the world. You want so desperately to stay attached to that hostel, or person, or park you got to know so well (albeit it was only a limited amount of time), so you take a piece of what you have and hide it in a corner, vowing to come back one day to retrieve it. Every single time I step foot into a new country, city, cafe, hostel, or bus station, I prepare myself for the bittersweet symphony associated with inevitable departure. The thought of leaving Singapore (especially my humble unit in Tembusu College at NUS) incites a familiar sense of sadness in my heart…but at the same time, I sorely miss the things I took for granted at home. For example: the unconditional love of my parents (aka my favourite super heroes of all time) isn’t the same when expressed over WeChat at the middle of the night:

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Context: in order to have my Chinese Visa application processed on time, I had to call my parents in the middle of the night (their time) to ask them a big favour. My mom happily obliged…my dad reacted the way I would’ve if woken up from deep slumber. He croakily agreed with a grumpy, but loving “yeah I’ll do it pumpkin.”

Also, every single IG/Whatsapp/Facebook/Twitter post about any of the following: fog, pumpkins, haunted houses, halloween, turkey, toques, rain (can you believe it?), snow, quinoa salad, pumpkin spice lattes, autumn leaves (!!)….will induce pangs of homesickness at the pit of my stomach. I chose to leave during Term 1 for a reason – to escape the cold, wet, Vancouver – but I completely forgot about the joys associated with transition seasons – especially AUTUMN. Alas, I also chose Term 1 so I could get my 6th year ass out of University and graduate already (more on the long journey of my undergrad degree in May 2014, when I’m an official UBC alumna.)

I think most people feel homesick near the beginning of new adventures. For me, I get consumed with the new, bright, shiny, (or old, rickety and full of soul) characteristics of new places that I rarely feel anything more than jet lag. However under the facade of a fast-paced, colourful and an amazing exchange experience lies a confused mess of a Joanna, wishing she were with her best friends, family and sweaters in Vancouver for Thanksgiving and Halloween.

I promise to post more about my experiences in Vietnam, Thailand and Malacca/KL when I’m not meandering about, procrastinating schoolwork. πŸ™‚

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