History as a discipline trains individuals to think about matters through various lenses and frameworks, and to approach problems with the ability to analyze comparatively and at the same time, without bias. We learn about how civilizations subsist, coexist, and how they sometimes collapse. We appreciate and are empathetic to the historical, political, and social context and purpose of art and architecture, film and music, and all things relevant.
With that said, I’m convinced that my background and character as a historian lends to my fascination in, and wanderlust for travel and exploration. From the French colonial rooftop balconies in cities like Battambang and Kratie in Cambodia and 20th Century British architecture in New Delhi, India, to the May 1968 Protest and school riots at the front steps of Sorbonne University in Paris and of course, the grand Forbidden Palace and Tiananmen Square in China’s capital, history is what draws me to the places I visit, and sometimes by accident, find home.
When thinking about my current situation now, “who knew” is often my afterthought. The reason for this is because I had originally put a six-month limit on my stay abroad and somehow I’ve exceeded this by a solid four months. So, why did I set this limit in the first place? Better yet, what’s changed?
To answer the first question, I simply didn’t see myself ever getting settled in China or liking it so much I’d want to stay for more than half a year. And I guess it’d also be fair to say that I was afraid to fall in love the country, which would prevent the future I had pictured myself having. After a short fling with Shanghai, I relocated to Beijing hoping to rekindle an old flame from a visit years before.
To my surprise, reuniting with Beijing felt more like meeting an awkward ex than a soulmate– not because Beijing was particularly different but because of my personal inhibitions. And for two months, I struggled to find a job and housing situation I was comfortable in. However, as two months turned to three, I began to peel back the angst to return to California. Only then did I feel the way I felt when entered the majestic Forbidden City for the first time–inspiration.
Today, I’m surrounded by beautiful hutongs (alleys) with Gulou (Drum Tower) and the Tibetan Yonghegong dominating the 2nd Ring skyline. And it’s this kind of tangible history that continues to feed my hunger for travel, and fuel my inspiration in continuing life abroad.