And now, many messy miles later, I am in the States. And while I will be writing more on China as well as my trip to the United Arab Emirates, I really ought not deny the elephant in the room...I'm home. This little lady is back and reflecting on more than a year away. And here's what's at the heart of things:
The truth is, I had a few very hard months in China. I struggled with a lot and in the heat of frustration, I was angry with the country that I lived in. Then I indulged in some hardcore homesickness. And I didn't like that about myself. Because didn't I want this struggle? Wasn't this challenge what I was looking for? Didn't I drop my whole life for this? For God's sake, didn't I love traveling?
The answer to every one of those questions was an unshakable YES. Yes, I love to travel. I was looking for a challenge. I did want the struggle. But also, honestly, I just didn't expect so much of it. Travel and I were on different pages about that and we had a bit of a fight.
Travel and I went to China so that I could see the world and learn about it. And I arrived in Foshan with a mental pen and paper ready. It was learning time. What I didn't realize was that I wouldn't be deciding on what the lessons would be. Travel was in charge of that, the damn control freak. And Travel, in all its kindness, chose the hard lessons.
Travel straight up kicked my ass, and I wasn't ready for it. So I fought. And I lost. But it turns out that was a good thing; when I gave up the fight, after months of stubbornness, I actually learned a thing or two. And those months of difficulty melted away. The hard-won lessons became the most important and my time in China, rather than being a struggle, became a deeply valuable thing.
And so that is the summary of my time away; I learned the most beautiful lessons in my other travels. I learned all of the hard lessons in China. And in reality, those have been the best. Not the most beautiful, but the most important.
I cannot overemphasize my appreciation for my time abroad and I cannot overstate how much I recommend travel more than ever before. Some trips are endlessly joyful. Some are painful. But as far as I've experienced, they are all worth it.