Announcing My Next Adventure

Laughing while precariously balancing on the Great Wall

Totally didn’t think this would be so long, but a major event requires major reflection and explanation so read on…

I thought about waiting until I officially picked up my visa tomorrow (the process of which has literally brought me to tears), but as I am quite impatient and have nothing else to do, I’m announcing what could be a major life event for me:

On July 16, I’m heading to China, perhaps indefinitely.

Now, I use “could” and “perhaps” because I do have a return ticket booked for August 20, but the idea is that I will be living on my own (after my mom has helped me get started and connected with some family and friends), with the goal of determining whether I can and feel comfortable enough to, well, live and work independently in China, specifically Guangzhou.

Crazy, huh?

I owe the ease of making this decision to my four months in Shanghai just last year, where I really did see myself living in a different country. But if for some reason China doesn’t work out, I’ll use that return ticket. I actually didn’t even want to book that return flight so soon, but my mom insisted the roundtrip ticket only cost a little bit more than a one-way. Maybe she and my dad also have doubts that I would be able to do it, but I’m so grateful that they continue to support me and my not-so-cheap endeavors as I attempt to figure out my life.

There are actually reasons other than not liking China for returning. The main one being any job back in the States. In fact, I have an offer to work on a three-month project in Boston for a considerable amount. The company wanted me to start immediately, and despite having already booked my trip to China, the co-founders said they would be happy to connect again when I return. So I’ll have to check by the end of August to make sure they still want me, but it could be one reason for returning. And who knows? Maybe one of the countless jobs I’ve applied to in the U.S. will want me. Anyway, if not, I do have a great opportunity in Guangzhou that I will go with if necessary (not exactly what I want to do but it’s a start). So another reason to return would be if I don’t find fitting work opportunities in China.

The thing is, it’s easy to see how I would not use that return ticket. In addition to acclimation and networking for the right job, I want to spend my time in Guangzhou traveling to other parts of Asia, including Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea after MERS… Even if I do get a job, either somewhere in Asia or the U.S., I probably would not start until September, meaning I really need to use the free time I have to do what I love—travel. And what’s even more exciting about this is that I might spend it traveling with my French-Moroccan guy ;)

Anyway, even though it is so easy to see all these possibilities (and get super excited about them), it can only go one way, and that way will remain uncertain for a really, really long time. A few months seem like a decade right now, especially when unemployment remains a painful headache constantly making me think I’m not good enough and can’t support myself. I know that things will eventually work out, but it doesn’t make it any less difficult.

So the most certain thing—without even officially having my visa until tomorrow, gosh—is that I’m shipping off to China in less than a month. Before then, I’ll visit my sister who is studying (tbh, partying) abroad in Prague. Then I’ll have a week before it’s goodbye to toilet paper in public toilets and hello to squatting—LOL, alright, aaand amazing food, necessary family meetups, exciting new adventures, and above all, a new chapter.

And of course, I’ll record it all on my blog ;)

Prague Plans

PragueSince I don’t want to rely entirely on my sister to show us around Prague and after learning my lesson to do adequate research before traveling (so I don’t miss the freakin’ magnus opus of a famous architect, for example), I’m making a bucket list of things to do. And I’m calling it a bucket list rather than, say, list of potential adventures because these sound too fun not to do.

Running tour. Uh oh. As I’m trying to find pros for doing this, I’m only thinking of the cons, which include:

  • I hate tours, especially fast-paced ones that don’t let you appreciate sites, only take photos or shop
  • I love running, but it’s going to be nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit most days we’ll be there
  • Any pictures I take of myself will be a sweaty mess
  • I’ll have to do it alone, since my mom and sister don’t understand exercise

But…but it sounds so fun. OK. Let’s start over.

EVENTS

Opening Ceremony of the Commemoration Festival of Master Jan Hus 2015. Because #culture. And apparently this Jan Hus guy is really famous.

Smetana Philharmonic Orchestra Prague. Because more #culture and Jan Hus.

Náplavka Farmers Market. Food! Beer! What’s not to love?

Beer tasting. There are several options, but this 90-minute one seems best. Can you believe there’s one that lasts eight hours?! #dead

Bohemian Symphony Orchestra Prague: Hollywood Night. Music from Les Miz, Titantic, and more! Or…

Prague Music Chamber Orchestra: Strauss, Mozart, Dvorak & Opera with Ballet. Same theater, different hall. Both sound amazing.

FOOD

Dish. Best burgers in Prague? Sign me up.

As many places as possible on Foursquare’s top picks list. MUST.

And for that matter, Yelp.

Can’t forget TripAdvisor. I’ll make more specific decisions with my mom and sister when the time comes…

SIGHTS

Vítkov. Climbing + views.

National Technical Museum. #tech

Letná Beer Garden. Best beer in Europe = many beer-related activities.

Prague Castle. My mom would LOVE the architecture.

Municipal House Hall. Maybe also check out a performance.

Speaking of bucket lists, thanks to Steve on TripAdvisor for this great guide.

Suzana’s isn’t bad, either.

Frank Gehry’s Dancing Building. LOL at the terrible TripAdvisor reviews but worth Instagramming if time permits ;)

Ugh, where was all this research for my Euro trip :( And no, all those saved Foursquare spots don’t count.

Actually, I must comment on how thoroughly impressed I am by Prague’s tourism website. Not only does it provide a ton of great content and useful information, but it’s also beautifully designed. And for those of you who follow me on Twitter, you especially should know how much I love design.

Its article about the top 10 reasons to visit Prague is no joke. I’m going to take some time to read through it. Just a quick glance and I can already tell it isn’t just any listicle, but also an informative, well-researched listicle. Thank you, Prague City Tourism.

I’ll look into this all more before departure. Can’t believe I’m returning to Europe so soon. <3

They even made a time-lapse video. Bravo, Prague. Bravo.

One Step at a Time

BU Study Abroad at Huangshan 2014

When climbing the Yellow Mountains, it’s all about taking it one step at a time.

It feels like I wrote the 2014 year in review post just yesterday. The post ended with a list of adventures to look forward to in 2015. Having just taken a look at it, I realized they’re all now behind me (covering CES, graduating college, traveling Europe). And the crazy thing is, it’s only July.

I suppose that makes sense. During your college years, it’s pretty easy to know your next steps, everything from classes to trips during breaks. Most things are planned well in advance or expected right until you graduate college. And then…

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So given a relatively predictable path these past few years, any decision from here on will seem surprising, spontaneous, and maybe even stupid. Prime example: Shipping off to China.

Naturally, people doubt I’ll stay, but since I made the announcement, I’m finding it harder to justify returning from China. Thanks to some more networking on a one-day trip to NYC on Sunday, my job prospects in China are looking increasingly better. Plus, my plans to travel in August would mean it would be impossible to return to the States on August 20.

I admit a huge part of why I don’t want to return is to prove to people who doubt that I “won’t get used to China.” I’m not saying I don’t doubt myself, but I have such a good feeling about staying long-term in China or even elsewhere in Asia, and I’m not oblivious to the negatives. I know China can be horrible. Not only have I witnessed some disgusting shit (literally) while abroad for four months, but I’ve also seen the documentaries and read a ton on China. I like to think I know enough to not experience so much culture shock that I wouldn’t want to return again (ahem…).

And the alternatives? Hard to say and hard to know whether whatever they may be would be better than staying in China, but what I do know is that for the next few months, I won’t find my adventures in the States.

In fact, I’m leaving for Prague tomorrow for a week (I think I’ve finally figured out packing lightly. I’ll take a pic and post it before I leave).

Without a job or family tying me down at this stage of my life, I am taking full advantage of the time and parental support I have now. Unlike my year in review, I don’t have such a long list of things to look forward to.

All I can do now is live life one step at a time. I can’t wait.

Jenna Marbles Says I’m Entitled & It’s True

BU alum Jenna Marbles just made me feel like I’m exactly like the rest of my generation: ENTITLED. She’s painfully right. I’ve even blogged about why I couldn’t get job (not linking to it but feel free to search), and the way she described how stupid it is to expect to get a job immediately after graduation made me think, well, how stupidly entitled I’ve been.

I never thought about applying setting low expectations to my career path, only to traveling. It’s even harder to apply low expectations to people, which she encourages. I can’t help but wonder if that’s too pessimistic. I mean, to set low expectations is to assume other people won’t do anything impressive or even nice, isn’t it? I understand why it’s a good thing (less difficult to be disappointed or angry), but I don’t understand how, without adding in a generally negative view of the world. Life is indeed a topic that requires a lot of thinking and discussing…

Woo, Updates!

Selfie at the green room at Pinakothek der Moderne Munich

Too cool for school.

So I usually don’t dedicate an entire post to raving about blog updates, but given how much time I’ve had on my hands when not job hunting, I’ve managed to finally make some much-needed changes to my blog.

And I just NEED to tell you—in case you haven’t noticed all the totally minor yet also major changes:

  • DOMAIN NAME!!
    Yo, look at the address bar. No more .wordpress!!! Yeah, only took a few years. Just admire that as much as you can. I know I am.
  • Combined portfolio with my blog.
    This is actually huge. For most of my college career, I’ve had anywhere between two and five (maybe more) different websites showcasing my work. Seriously, I jumped on as many now-useless websites to put myself out there, from clippings.me to Boston University’s own website hosting service on people.bu.edu/ssu. Eventually, I managed to cut down on the number of sites on which people can find my stuff to the bu.edu site and this WordPress. But as I started to use my blog more, I hated how I had to redirect people from my bu.edu website to WordPress. For years, I would procrastinate by making the redirect as “seamless” as possible with the shittiest HTML trick in the book (using < frame > to load my blog within bu.edu). Thankfully, I got my act together at last.
  • New theme…for now.
    The number of times I change my theme is quite ridiculous, because I’m never quite satisfied. So I’m going to consider this an ongoing project. I keep saying I’ll one day code my own (and finally use Disqus because everyone who reads my blog complains how “hard” it is to comment. Guys, adding an email is an extra but extremely minor step. GIVE ME SOME COMMENTS), but that would require switching from WordPress.com to WordPress.org and actually using my CS103 skills to deal with my own web hosting. Meh. Eventually.
  • And a bunch of new posts from my post-grad Euro trip.
    I admit it wasn’t fair to my readers who kept checking for a week near the end of my trip only to see maybe one post and then be bombarded with the rest of my posts the week after I returned. If you haven’t caught up, I don’t blame you. But hey, read them when you get the chance. And PLEASE comment if you liked (or, God forbid, disliked) ANYTHING. Have you also seen my new tagline? I feel that I’ve been writing into the void, with the only comfort being seeing some views here and there by addictively checking my stats.
    Anyway, go check it out (not hyperlinking so that you can enjoy the beauty of this address): https://soniasu.com/adventures/