One Year

Remember when your year seemed to start in September and end in June? When Christmas was always a vacation to enjoy the snow and sing carols; when summer meant endless time for camping and hanging out with friends every day?

Yeah, that was quite a while ago for me. Once you are no longer a student, your body adjusts to the ‘normal’ yearly pattern and the same calendar that you’ve known for so long suddenly starts in January. You forget that there are exams (periods of time when students are especially busy) and breaks (periods of time when students are found everywhere on the streets). I wouldn’t have recognized the summer vacation that recently started, if it weren’t for an empty minibus that I found myself travelling on a few days ago. (Sadly, yes, summer vacation starts ways into July for the students here rather than June).

Now that school’s out, aside from getting more room to myself on my daily commute to work, it also means that more things to do at work because everyone is flying off to vacation! Our company recently started flying to Narita and Saipan, and we will also be opening our station in Osaka quite soon. Since I’ve been here for a year (already! time flies!), I can finally get free-of-charge tickets to fly to any of the stations we operate. OK, not quite free, because I still have to pay airport taxes and fuel surcharges, but close enough. Travelling is part of why I signed up for this job anyway.

As I mentioned… I’ve been working in Hong Kong at this company for one year now. I know its not anything significant, but I still like to ask myself: What have I achieved? Here’s my one year review.

First of all, I have completed 10 exams and now I only have 3 more multiple choice exams plus one essay exam before I’m completely done with these engineer licensing tests. Boy, am I ready to get it over with! I haven’t been on vacation throughout this past year mainly because I have been trying to focus on studying (while this student mentality is still with me), so the second that I’m done, I’m going to reward myself with a trip somewhere.

I made new friends, that’s for sure. Previously, when I came to Hong Kong, I only had one group of people to play soccer with. My interest in soccer has helped me connect with a lot of people in my company that I otherwise would never come in contact with. In one random episode at a soccer game, I also met these girls that invited me to play with them in Tai Po in their competitive league. I won’t be able to commit to every practice and game due to my shift schedule, but I will be heading out whenever I can.

I grew older. I arrived in Hong Kong on the night of my 23rd birthday, and from that day forward, my birthday also became the mark of my new life here. A few days ago, I met the new trainees for this year, and they called me “shi jie” – something that I have never heard before in my life. (Maybe that’s how moms feel when they hear a kid call themselves ‘mom’ for the first time, although that magical feeling also probably makes you feel a billion times more old than this one).

I learned more about myself, and I’m still continuously learning. Sometimes, I think this learning process is not necessarily ‘discovering anything new’, but ‘finally being able to articulate yourself in words’. I know who I am, what I want, how I feel… but these things change depending on the condition, and other people don’t understand it. You just know because it ‘feels right’ to you, while other people find you annoying and weird and bipolar. Being able to describe what you want clearly into words is a big part of living in this world, where there are 6 billion other human beings that are both alike and unlike in so many unique ways.

I am still in the process finding my way and figuring out what I want. I know I’m in the right industry. But what exactly is it that I actually want to do in the future? Maybe I think my job is fun now because I’m rotating to a new department every few months, but if I stay here for 40 years, will I still think its fun? I don’t think anybody can answer these questions, no matter how many years of life you’ve lived. In fact, I would say that it is foolish to think that life is about finding answers. When I was younger, I would see every grade at school as a ‘level’, and completing it with flying colours would help you achieve… well, something. But as the years pass by, you realize that what you achieve is essentially just another ‘level’ that is even harder than the original one. Work only gets harder after you graduate, and every project you handle gets increasingly difficult. Similarly, as you embark on your journey for answers, you will realize that every answer you find reveals ten questions behind it.

What I do know is that while it’s nice to have money, it ultimately is not what I’m after. So for now, I’ll just follow my heart and whatever feels right. Do what inspires me and gives me motivation to get to work early every day. Currently, where I am at is exactly that. But I also pray that if there comes one day where I am sure this is no longer the place for me – no matter how much success I have achieved in this area, no matter how much easier my life would be to stay here – that I would be brave enough to pack my bags and go.

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Success may be defined by your social status, or achievements, or how much money you make… but life is defined by how you live it. And since life is really all we have, let’s make it worthwhile.

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