Life has been crazy lately, with hospital visits, end exams, teacher comments, and the blazing heat of summer. A few days ago, in the midst of all these hazy days, I received a wonderful surprise— Nikki Solano from the Costa Rica Travel Blog had nominated me for a Liebster Award!
Now. I’ll be honest. I had no idea what a Liebster Award was, but after some googling I’ve discovered that it is, in short, a representation of how lovely life can be when complete strangers come together through similar interests, and then support, inspire, and appreciate each other.
Thank you, Pura Vida! Eh? Inc. for believing in my silly little blog. I had no idea these sort of “awards” exist due to my serious noob status in the blogging world, and the surprise of this warm gesture made my heart smile. Love to you from China, and thanks for reading.
With the acceptance of the award comes a little interview created by the Costa Rica Travel Blog, and here it is!
What have you seen that you never thought you would get the chance to see?
I never would have dreamed that I’d see a classroom of fifty kindergarteners jumping onto chairs, grabbing onto my clothes, dancing on their desks, and waving at a camera to wish me farewell on the last day of primary school this semester. I particularly enjoyed the nonchalance in which the Chinese Teacher regarded the boys shaking their hips and doing Kung Fu moves on top of tables as she snapped a few photos. Maybe it’s from lack of imagination, but I never could have dreamt up the pure elation I felt in the middle of my ELL mob. The smiles on those crazy kids faces have inspired me more than any landmark, national monument, or ancient ruin I have ever seen.
What inspires your travel choices?
Impulse and people. There is nothing that I don’t want to see, so if I have the money, the time, the invitation, and the desire, I go. I don’t actually love traveling though, I prefer living in places. I’ve always felt that I’m too tired to fully embrace the places that I travel to when I go for short spurts. I think that when I’m tired, I have a tendency to be annoyed by the things that should move me. I guess that makes me a bad expat, but I love seeing the beauty in the small things in big places because it’s the small things that make me happy, and small things are in all places. To get back to the question though, in China I have only gone on day trips around the city and it’s usually because of an invite from a local friend. My Chinese Teacher invited me to her hometown, a tiny little village about two hours away from Wuhan, and it was one of the best trips of my life because I got to be a part of a Chinese family for a day. I love people, and even though we didn’t really do anything on that trip except eat, relax, and walk around town, just thinking about that day makes my heart swell with desire to go back. It’s people that make every place special.
Where will your next adventure take you?
No idea. This adventure in Wuhan is still very new to me, and everyday I find something else that I love about this city. My gut tells me I’ll end up in Latin America someday because I can feel my Spanish skills getting rusty, but I think I’ll stay in China until I get a good grasp on Mandarin. That could take a while.
What is something you would love to do/see but will likely never get the chance to?
Don’t be ridiculous. I’m 23. I’m devouring the world one moment at a time, and if there is something that I want to do, I’m sure I’ll do it. If I don’t, I’m sure I’m doing lots of other awesome things that have stepped up on my priority list. For me, it’s not about how many places I’ll see, or how many things I’ll do; it’s about how much I enjoy the places and things that I do do and do see. I will never see it all, but I will continue to choose what makes me happy, and fully immerse myself in those choices.
What could you do to overcome the obstacle(s) preventing you from doing/seeing that which you discuss above?
I think obstacles are only obstacles if I can’t find a way to see it as an opportunity. Sometimes, I’m not very good at seeing that, so it’s nice to have people like my parents, all of my siblings, and my close friends give me their perspectives on things. Perspective makes all the difference when being faced with something that feels impossible.
How long have you been blogging and at what point (if any) did you develop a true passion for it?
I’m not sure. Does a high school MySpace blog count? I might have started some random blog in 7th grade. And then I gave an attempt at a blog when I was studying abroad in Spain. I always thought blogging was stupid because I thought I was too elite for the blog-sphere, but this time around I have realized how ignorant I was. What I really love about blogging is the ability to be completely candid and unedited. I try to keep my blog as unedited as possible because it keeps things easy and fun. I like easy and fun. I’m sure that makes my blog confusing at times, but that’s life.
What is the best travel advice you can offer?
Just go. And learn how to be okay with being uncomfortable. Let go of your western ideals so you can fully appreciate the places you go. And whatever you do, just do the things that feel right, because you can’t go wrong if you choose what makes you happy. I think a lot of times people travel and they get overwhelmed by all the things that they think they “should” do so that they can post the pictures on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, as if to prove that they have done the things that they have done. But I think that is what makes us so tired, and makes us unappreciative of what we are already seeing. If we’re in a rush to prove something to someone else besides ourself, then it’s hard to choose the things we actually want to do. It’s hard to be captured by reality when we are focused on checking things off of a list. Go and immerse yourself in the moments. Leave your camera behind sometimes. Talk to locals, and if you don’t know the language, learn a few words because, like I said above, I think it’s only the people that make a place unique. It would be easy to have the same experience in every place that you go, and if that makes you happy, go for it. That’s not me though, and I recommend stepping outside of comfort zones.
What is the best blogging advice you can offer?
Trust yourself, and don’t worry about anything else. Do you. Don’t edit yourself so much because life is unedited. There’s a saying that I always used as a crutch throughout my academic career, and life in general: “Oh… It’s just a shitty first draft.” But I say stick to the original.
Sometimes shit is better than perceived perfection.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
No idea. As the great Fiona Apple said, “I’m good at being uncomfortable so I can’t stop changing all of the time.” I’ll be in my happy place, following my bliss, and doing places wherever those places may be. Could still be Wuhan for all I know. I think I could be happy anywhere. Happy. Happy. Happy. Is that word getting annoying yet?
What do you need to do/accomplish to get there?
To get to nowhere and everywhere? I need to not lose myself, and remember that I am human, not the superwoman I so often try to be. It’s hard sometimes when I feel like I’m not doing enough, or when I feel overwhelmed with an invisible pressure that I put on myself, or when I forget that I get to choose who I want to be. Right now, to stay grounded in moments where I feel like falling or giving up on the progress I have made in the last year and a half, I remind myself that I am Chloe. I am a girl from the Midwest. I’m simple. I’m smart. I think too much. And I choose to be happy, healthy, and busy. It’s a constant mantra in my mind. Slow down. Breathe. And enjoy.
What is the mark you are trying to leave on this world through your work/blog?
I don’t know. Maybe that’s what I want to tell the world. That I don’t know, but I’m happy with not knowing, and it’s okay to not know. People always said, “I bet you will find yourself when you go to China” and I always thought that sounded cliche and silly and a broken idea. But it was true. China reminded me that I am the girl who I always wanted to be, I just had to be her. My blog is really just a reflection of all the crazy thoughts in my mind that are dying to get out. I love writing on my blog because I keep finding out that my thoughts are pretty familiar in lots of peoples minds. And to me, that’s beautiful. I think people belong together, and I think that everyone’s perspective is valid.
What I say on here is never new. Everything I have said and everything I will say has already been said. My words are just another perspective.
As for my work, I’m just teaching with some empathy, and loving every second of it.
Thanks again to the Costa Rica Travel blog for this nomination. It’s nice to have an excuse to be introspective, and those were some great questions.
As part of the award acceptance, I nominate the following blogs for the Liebster Award as well!
Here are my questions for you, if you so decide to accept this challenge.
- Why did you chose the country that you’re currently residing in?
- What inspires you?
- What keeps you going when life tempts you to quit?
- Why do you blog?
- What advice do you have for those who wish to be adventurous but are wary of “leaving it all behind”?
- Why did you first start writing? Why do you still write?
- How did you decide on the name of your blog?
- What’s something that you would love to tell people but for some reason it never comes up in conversation?
- What’s one of weirdest moments you’ve had since your journey across nations began?
- What’s a memory that keeps your heart warm when the expat life gets lonely?
- How do you stay in touch with the people you love?