Things I’ve learnt about myself from 4 months of living abroad

It’s been about 4 days since I’ve been back from a 4-month study experience that was laden with so much fun and adventure. I move about my daily life as per normal (minus the jet lag), somewhat in a way that I feel like I’ve never left home before. But then, little things like reaching out instinctively to the side of my toilet bowl to flush when the button is at the top, reminds me that the experience was real. It wasn’t a dream.

I never thought I would miss Buffalo the way I am missing it right now. I think what I miss most is the amount of freedom and independence I had, the ability to not be accountable to anyone but myself. I’ve got so many stories that I want to share but I don’t know where to begin.. And since, these 4 months allowed me to grow as a person, I’ve come to see myself in a different perspective from before.

1. I’m a true P.

P in this case, stands for ‘perceiving’ under the MBTI type. For the longest time, I never understood why I was a P. I’ve always seen myself as a J (judging) – making lists of things to do, planning ahead of time, punctuality etc. All of that still holds true, especially punctuality. If I’m a minute late, I’m late and I’ll actually tell people that I’m late if I expect myself to be a minute late. I’ll feel horrible for being a minute late, even though I know there will be people who will be 5-10 minutes late.

After living without parental supervision for 4 months, the P aspects of me started to show in the form of my hurricane-torn-apart room. Weirdly enough, for a person who is OCD and loves being organised (colour-coding and other minute details), I’m a messy person. I don’t know how I’m able to live with mess, but I can and I sure can bring that mess into other people’s places.

2. I procrastinate a lot.

This probably supports the reason why I’m perceiving. Oh deadlines, and all the tasks that I got to do. It doesn’t help that Buffalo was a place that was so slow-paced in comparison to Singapore, that I tend to take my time to get around doing things… And I end up having to do the last-minute mad rush thing, every, single, time.

3. I’m probably not as bad at cooking as I might have thought.

I used to tell people that it would be a miracle if I were to be in the kitchen and it doesn’t get caught in flames. Well, thankfully, I’ve not burned down any kitchens in Rensch (because they use a heating coil HAHA). I think for the most part, I’ve been reluctant to experiment with cooking simply because I fear that what I whip up would taste bad… And honestly, I shouldn’t even be having this mentality because every thing has got to start somewhere right?

I am quite proud of myself for having cooked some simple stuff – aglio olio (which was a total fail!), kimchi omelette, porridge (with lots of ingredients), kimchi fried rice (more like gochujang paste fried rice since I had no kimchi!), kimchi soup and more!

Now all that’s stopping me from cooking back in Singapore, is the fact that I’ll have so much cleaning up to do. So mmmmm…

4. I need to work on my determination.

I feel like how a person exercises gives a rough insight about what he/she is like – though this is just my personal opinion, and it is not entirely true. I just simply feel that it is applicable to me. When you are exercising, your body and stamina is one thing, but your mind and willpower is another. And I really admire those who are able to tell themselves to push on and not give up even when they are tired, because HOW THE HELL DO YOU DO IT?

It takes a lot of willpower to spur yourself on, to be your own cheerleader, to continue pushing yourself even when your body is crying (or sweating) and telling you no. And ermmm, I definitely got to work on that. I feel like exercising not only strengthens you physically, but mentally as well, and if you are able to be resilient while working out, it is possible that you are going to be more resilient when facing real problems I guess?

5. My greatest sin is definitely gluttony.

For years, I could never decide which was my greatest sin – gluttony or sloth. Both are such close contenders, but ultimately, gluttony has won out. Maybe it’s because I was living in a foreign place, so I feel compelled to try every single thing… But I just felt like my stomach was a bottomless pit while living in the States. I ate when I was hungry, I ate when I was bored, I ate when I was full, I ate ALL THE TIME.

If sloth continues to keep up with gluttony, I’m so gonna swell.

6. I am OBSESSED with lipsticks (and nail polishes).

When will this ever stop mmmm? How about my next lifetime? Because a girl totally needs a red/burgundy/coral/orange/pink/nude/red (oh did I already say that) lipstick.

P.S. I got myself a NARS in ‘Grace’, and I think it’s sweet to find a colour that I love and suits me. It’s an added plus that Grace is sort of my name because well, it’s one of the characters in my Chinese name.

7. I can’t pack to save my life.

Packing suitcases just triggers my panic button to no end – whether is it for a short or long trip, going away or coming back. I just don’t have that ability to sit down and think about what fits, or how to shift things around so that my items can magically be packed into the suitcase even if their shapes/volumes don’t change.

8. I’m a hoarder.

One of the reasons why packing is a nightmare for me is this – I like to keep everything. I brought back some of the paper bags I got from the States (A&F, Pink, Magnolia Bakery and MORE). I am insane, I know right?

Of course I needed to bring back the A&F bag, I can’t afford A&F in Singapore, so I can’t get that paper bag here. Totally needed it.

9. I feel more comfortable walking down the streets of South Korea, than in America.

Well, I mean I could potentially be a New Yorker kind of girl, I could. But being a Singaporean in the States, I don’t know whether to feel offended or not, every time someone I assumes I’m from China and automatically greets me in Chinese (even though they don’t mean any harm and they can’t really tell us apart. It’s not like I can fault them because I can’t tell Caucasians apart either). But it’s just weird you know, since I’m technically a Chinese who is fluent in English, so I’m neither here nor there.

Whereas in Korea, I’m just an Asian. Like I still do get people assuming that I’m from China, but I get a kick out of confusing them when I speak to the sales assistants in English, Mandarin, Korean and Japanese (because well, they’ve got sales assistants fluent in different languages). Ok this doesn’t even make sense, I think I’m just inherently biased towards South Korea.

I mean sure, I could navigate around Times Square on my own, go about doing my own thing but when I was walking down the streets of Seoul and sitting in the cafe sipping on my coffee alone, it just felt…. Normal, and good.

So yes, this concludes my somewhat lengthy post in a long time…. And I hope I get enough motivation to pen down my thoughts on my other experiences!

P.P.S. I know I sound bimbotic in certain parts, just fyi, I’m being sarcastic ok.


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