The Liebster Award is a pay it forward blogger nomination given to up and coming bloggers with less than 200 followers. Last summer I was nominated by R, the author of China Elevator Stories. Recently, I was nominated again by Xiananigans (thanks!!).
Every nominee must answer 10 questions, and then write 10 new questions for a few bloggers you have nominated.
Here are the questions Xiananigans has asked me:
1. What made you choose the life of an expat and/or traveler in China?
It all started when I studied abroad in Beijing and Xi’an two years ago. I had never been to Asia before, and was scared to sign up for a full seven months in China. After returning home for my senior year of college, I realized I wasn’t finished with my time in Asia. I knew I wanted to head back to China, and I figured now would be the perfect time since I had nothing holding me back. I was afraid of getting stuck in the routine of life in America, and never being able to leave. I decided to teach English because I’m too young to get a visa doing anything else (yay Chinese visa laws), so I signed up to work through Ameson Year in China. While this year has been difficult and I definitely wasn’t expecting to live in the “countryside”, I’m proud of my decision to return to China and I’m excited to stay another year!
2. What are your top 3 places you want to visit in the future?
This is a really hard question because there are so many places I want to visit! Every time I travel to a new place, I find three more places I want to see! It’s an exponential problem… literally. I decided to pick three places in Asia and three places outside of Asia (I’m a cheater).
I planning on heading to these places in the upcoming year(!!!):
1. Japan (hopefully this summer!)
2. Taiwan (either this year or next year during National Week)
3. Thailand/Cambodia (hopefully next year for the month I have off during Spring Festival)
After I conquer Asia, there are so many other places I want to see!
1. Argentina (I’d love to see more of South America and I think Argentina would be an amazing place to visit)
2. Backpacking through Europe (I’m a huge cheater, but it’s on my bucket list)
3. Morocco (I went on a day tour from Spain but I’d love to stay for longer, especially since my “little” studied abroad there with CLS)
3. What is the greatest travel memory you have?
Early last summer, a woman with stage 4 cancer saw a post on my blog about wanting to visit Tibet. She is Buddhist and has always wanted to visit Tibet, but her health has prevented her from going. This woman sent me a message asking me to write her name on a shrine in Tibet, so that a part of her would always be there. When I was in Tibet, our guide told us that if you write a person’s name on a sting of prayer flags, and hang them in a spiritual place, it acts as a prayer for the person’s health and well-being. After hearing this, I decided to take a strand of prayer flags I bought as a souvenir and hang them for the woman who had contacted me. Standing atop a jagged cliff overlooking one of Tibet’s most holy lakes, I was completely overwhelmed with emotion. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my entire life, and I couldn’t think of a better and more spiritual place to hang the flags for this woman I had never even met.
It was one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen in my entire life and I’m so honored to be able to hang those flags for her.
4. If you could give one piece of advice to someone who was thinking about expatriating, what would it be?
You could easily write a book on all the reasons not to go: missing friends and family, familiar foods, dealing with cultural differences and language barriers, possible career stagnation, money, etc. etc. etc. But honestly, if you’re at all considering living abroad for any amount of time, you should definitely go for it! I can’t promise it will be easy and I can’t promise it will always live up to your expectations, but it will help you challenge yourself and grow as a person. There have been a few times this year where I have considered packing it all up and heading home, but living in China this year has made me a much stronger and more self-reliant person. There’s a lot of pressure to follow the status quo: go to college, get a good job, make money, get married, have babies, retire… but it’s your life. If you don’t take this risk now, you may miss out on a lifetime-woth of stories and adventures. My word of advice: “Go for it”.
5. Where do you see yourself in five years?
That’s a really hard question to ask a someone who’s just about to turn 23. I’ll tell you where I don’t see myself: at some boring office job in a middle-of-nowhere city. At this point I’ll be almost 28, so hopefully I’ll be working in a cool city in either America or Europe doing a job I like. Honestly, the best thing about life is that it changes so much. I can’t plan where I’ll be in two years, let alone five! I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see.
6. If you have some spare time, what do you do?
Travel, write in my blog, edit photos, go out to dinner with friends, read cool travel blogs online, read Game of Thrones, and of course, watch full seasons of tv shows on my computer.
7. What is the most delicious food you have ever eaten?
That is probably the hardest question I’ve ever been asked. The most surprisingly delicious thing I’ve had in a while is “egg coffee” in Vietnam (post coming soon). My food cravings depend on what I’ve been missing, so when I’m in China I crave authentic Mexican food, greek salads and Indian food, but while I’m in America I crave Sichuan dishes like mapuo dofu (spicy soft tofu) and hot pot.
8. Why did you start blogging?
I started a blog because I thought it would be the best way to share my study abroad adventures with all of my friends and family back home. Once I started writing, I loved the feeling of publishing content, knowing that others actually enjoyed reading what I had to say (maybe I’m a little self-absorbed). Blogging has given me a great way to organize and express my thoughts about Chinese culture and living in China, as well as a great way to document my adventures for friends, family and myself. It still gets a little awkward talking about my blog in person. It’s much easier to throw my blog into the universe, and whoever sees it sees it.
9. What do you miss most from “home”?
Is it bad to say food? Kidding… except not really. While I miss my friends and family a lot, the great thing about the internet these days is that it’s pretty easy to contact people back home. Food is a pretty big reminder that you’re far from home. I can call up my friends and family on Skype whenever I want, but can’t just run down the street to Roti and get Mediterranean food, or whip up some zesty pasta from Trader Joes. Also I’ve really been starting to miss the social norms and etiquette about noise volume. China is just so loud. Chinese people are loud (especially when they’re on the phone), the factories near my school are loud (even at 3am), my students are extremely loud, horns are constantly honking and people set off fireworks and firecrackers at all hours of the day and night. I also miss mattresses. I’m sitting on my bed typing this and my butt hurts.
10. Which picture is your favourite travel shot? Why? (post the picture with your answer)
Betcha can’t have just one! I made a whole album of My All-Time Favorite Travel Photos! Why? Because I have nothing better to do with my life.
Favorite blogs with less than 200 followers
Many of the other teachers on my program also write blogs. Here are a few of my favorites:
The Wandering Curl – “Curl” writes about her adventures teaching English, first in the Republic of Georgia, then again in Ningbo, China.
No Country for Laowai – Andrew fills us in on his life working and teaching in Nanjing.
Life in China– Chelsea is teaching English at a nursing school just north of Shanghai in Wuxi.
Here are my 11 questions for you bloggers:
- What is the craziest thing you have ever done abroad?
- What is the most interesting thing you have ever eaten?
- Where is your favorite place in the entire world?
- Besides blogging and/or photography, what is your favorite hobby?
- If you could be on one reality tv show, which one would it be?
- In your opinion, what is the best blog post you’ve ever written?
- What is the most meaningful experience you’ve had abroad?
- If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
- Where is one place in the world you want to go, but have never been?
- What’s your favorite photo you’ve taken abroad? (feel free to cheat and post an album like me)
I hope you guys have as much fun with this as I did! If anyone else has any good blog recommendations, especially blogs about living and traveling in Asia, please feel free to post them in the comments. I’m always looking for more cool blogs to read.