A place to call home

273: Dali Sunrays

Dali Sunrays/273/Nikon FE2/Fujifilm 100/Dali/China

264/365: Breakfast Making

Breakfast Making/264/Nikon FE2/Kodak Gold 200/Shanghai/China

269: Tiger Leaping GorgeTiger Leaping Gorge/269/Nikon FE2/Kodak Portra 400/Tiger Leaping Gorge/China

252/365: Rice Paddies

Rice Paddies/252/Nikon FE2/Fujifilm 100/Dali/China

I have been in China for 320 days and I have just nine days left before I return to the Chicago. It’s amazing how fast this last year has flown by and a little scary at how fast these last few weeks have swept by within the blink of an eye. I will come back to America a different person, a medical student itching to graduate and start my residency. This time in China has pushed me to my limits, exposed me to many wonderful and life changing things, and has truly changed the way I look at the public health, world, and myself.

I began this journey well before I left medical school for China. My desire to travel to China that has been something dwelling in my heart  for many years. To spend a year abroad, to spend it in China has always been something I felt I needed to do before I died. It’s slowly built over time, since I left Vanderbilt for my short summer study abroad in Shanghai six years ago, this wish to travel to a foreign land and live. It started out as a dream to live and slowly transformed into a more meaningful mission to do public health research. With the encouragement of many special people in my life I went for it. I left the convenience, familiarity, and Internet freedom of the USA for the smog and Great firewall of China and there I found everything I wanted and more. I found myself. I found what really matters to me.

I realize now that while I’ve been a traveler my entire life, I’m the kind of traveler that likes to live. I don’t prefer the brief tastes of places, I’d rather savor the nooks and crannies that are often over looked when visiting a place for a short second. I’ve done that here in Beijing. I’ve made it a home for the last ten odd months, but now, I know it’s time to move on. While I’ve set up shop and made a life for myself here, but I know now that this isn’t my home. This isn’t where I am supposed to end up.

This journey has continued to build upon something deep inside me. My life has been an endless barrage of travel and transition, never in a place for an extended period of time. My time in China has shown me that I desire to finally find a place that I can settle down and put down roots. A place I can call my own. A way to finally answer one of the most difficult questions I am asked all the time: “Where are you from?”

It’s funny how such a simple question gets right to the root of one of my deepest struggles. Where am I from? Honestly, I really don’t know. I’ve lived in so many different and amazing places but what place has stuck with me? What place do I want to call home?

While this journey is ending, I know my next one is just beginning. That’s the funny thing about journeys; one ends and before you know it the next one begins. I am ready to take my next steps into an unknown future. I am finally prepared to answer one of my most existential questions.

My time in China has allowed me to discover that what I’ve always wanted in life has been in the States the entire time, in a city I was prepared to leave. A part of my life I previously thought I wanted to abandon.

I am ready and eager to return to Chicago. A place I think I can finally call home.


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