A New Life Chapter (Charlotte & NYC, USA; Oslo, Norway; Barcelona, Spain)

Pre-Global Entrepreneurship Week. 

 

Goodbye Summertime Sadness:

This is it. It’s the end of one confusing summer and the beginning of something new. It’s so crazy to think that it felt like just yesterday when I was walking down the platform of my university graduation ceremony, shaking the dean’s hand to receive my degree certificate.

I feel sort of weird dipping out on what would’ve technically have been my senior year at UNC Chapel Hill. I graduated early to give myself a head start to figure out what I want to do with my life. My final decision was to pursue my master’s degree in not just one, but two foreign countries that I have never been. It’s amazing, yet nerve-wrecking to think about all the new possibilities and adventures I’ll encounter while I am studying abroad for the next year.

This past week has been more confusing than ever, but it has also been so amazing. I went from Charlotte, NC to NYC to Oslo, Norway. Right now, I am sitting around in the Barcelona International Airport at 5am, getting ready to head off to Lyon, France in just a couple of hours to start my new life as a graduate student at EMLYON Business School and Purdue University.

I left Charlotte earlier this week to head over to New York City as a pit stop on my way to France. It was quite bittersweet. I went up there to see my friends and say one last goodbye, but I felt as though I would never see some of them ever again in my life. I think I’ve done too much damage this summer to push some of them away and I don’t blame them. It’s sad to depart without patching things up, but maybe this was for the best.

 

Weekend in Oslo, Norway:

After NYC was Oslo, and it definitely was a great way to begin my European adventures. It was cold and rainy, but the city was beautiful (it reminded me much like being in Boston, but with nicer people, better-looking architecture and more expensive) and I got to reunite with two good friends that I had met last year from my study abroad program in Seoul, Korea.

Me and 히경언니 :)
Me and 히경언니 :)
At some island off the coast of Oslo
At some island off the coast of Oslo
Me and my friend Martin in front of the Oslo National Opera House
Me and my friend Martin in front of the Oslo National Opera House

The city of Oslo was a lot smaller than I had expected. I surprisingly got to see most of the city in just one day. I saw the Norwegian Nationa Opera & Ballet, the Akershus Fortress, the downtown and Nationaltheatret area, the seaport and a big shopping region all in one day. The other days was spent exploring the port, an island and museum visits. I think my favorite part of the city was the sea port and the Akershus Fortress.

On the taxi boat ride to Oslo's island
On the taxi boat ride to Oslo’s island
Beach on the Oslo's island
Beach on the Oslo’s island

 

12 Hours in Barcelona:

Then I was off to Barcelona, where the adventure just picked up out of nowhere. Actually, I don’t know if I consider myself adventurous or just plain stupid. I have just spent the last 12 hours wandering around this city in the middle of the night, without a working phone, knowledge of the language or knowing anyone there. I purposefully booked my flight to have the longest layover possible because I was on some adventure-high, thinking that I can last all 12 hours of a layover in Barcelona on my own. I definitely managed, but 12 hours was so much longer than I had hoped for, especially since it was from 7pm to 7am instead of the other way around. How did I survive without getting kidnapped, murdered and/or raped? I have no idea…

Streets of Barcelona
Streets of Barcelona

So 7pm was when it all started. My original plan was to meet up with a girl I met on Couchsurfing and stay at her place for the night. Well, that clearly did not happen because as soon as I landed, she called to tell me she’s bailing to take a night shift at her bar… That meant I would be homeless for the night. She did however, offer a storage space for me to drop off my luggage—Oh, how thoughtful [total sarcasm intended].

I ended up wandering around the Passeig de Gracia area, but there was honestly not that much to do at that hour; all the shops were closed and people were heading home. So, I ended up at Starbucks, where I resorted to my last chance of having a tour guide. I called up another Couchsurfing host named Alfonso, who luckily, came to pick me up right away on his motorcycle.

He took me around the city for a bit, but then he took me to the beach where he kept asking me to come back to his place for a drink. I kindly refused about a dozen times, yet he was persistent even after I told him that I do not drink. Then he tells me that I either go back with him now or he’s going off on his own. I asked him to take me back to where he picked me up, but he refused and walked away. That fucking asshole. He literally dropped me off where I obviously could not navigate my way back, all because I refused to get a drink with him at his place. I cannot stand dickfaces like that. Sure, I made the mistake of getting on a stranger’s motorcycle and shame on me for that, but seriously, wtf that dickface.

So I was miles away from where I originally started, with no internet nor a map of the city. I don’t know how so don’t ask, but I was able to find my way back to where I started. It took me well over an hour (past midnight at this point) of wandering, but I eventually found the main road and walked back to the bar street.

I entered the bar where the first Couchsurfing host worked and made myself a shelter out of the pillows on their couch. It was 2am and I needed a nap at least. The girl finally got off work around 3:30am and that’s when she gave me a REAL tour of Barcelona. It was a short tour of the area that we were at, but it was quite an experience. She took me through all sorts of hidden alleyways that tourists would not have known and it was just incredible to see all the ancient architecture.

This one area that she took me was super crowded at 4 in the morning. It was a Monday night, but people were out and partying as if it was the weekend. The girl told me that it’s the center for youth nightlife and that it’s always like this no matter what day of the week it is… no wonder this country is still in an economic crisis.

Barcelona at 4 in the morning
Barcelona at 4 in the morning

 

A New Chapter:

Anyways, now I am just waiting around for my flight to take off. I’m finally flipping over the page and starting a whole new chapter! I can’t tell you how much I’ve been going back and forth with this decision and I’m still not even sure if I’ve made the right one. Of course, I want to travel the world and experience all that I can while I am still young. At the same time, I’m scared that I will be in debt from my student loans and not enjoy the program because I will be constantly worrying about money. Everything logistically is set, but I’m not sure if my heart is yet. I don’t ever know when my heart will set—that’s always the difficult part of figuring things out.

This will be my fourth study abroad program. Yet, this is by far the longest I will be away from home and away from my friends and family. It’ll be almost a whole year abroad: France for the first semester, China for the second semester and Indiana for the third semester. Exciting, isn’t it?

Well, as I am closing off the final pages of my summer chapter, I came to realize why I love living in a four-seasoned place. I like change and I almost need it. Summer was amazing and I’ve met some wonderful people this season, but I’m ready for another fresh start. I think I’m too mentally incapable of staying in one place longer than a certain amount of time before I start to feel insanity. I think I’ve always been like this, except that as I get older, the feeling of insanity comes to me more expectedly and more imminently than when I was younger. Maybe “insanity” isn’t exactly the most politically correct term to use… What I mean to say is that if I stay in one environment for too long for me to feel comfortable, no matter how happy that place may make me, the comfort starts to make me feel trapped. Maybe that’s why I decided to take on this program… I don’t know yet.

One lesson I do take away from this summer though is learning how to love life. That sounds way too cheesy, but it’s true. The thought of loving life is such a simple act, but I think as people get so consumed by their mundane lives, they start to forget how to actually enjoy living. I don’t think I’m at a full Dharma with my life yet, but I’m starting to appreciate the big and small blessings that surround me. It’s sometimes hard to keep myself humble because I’ve been so blessed with nothing but love from the day that I was born. I know I take that for granted and still complain about not being fully happy with where I am at in life. I don’t know if I ever will be, but I think that’s just the part of the pursuit of happiness.

So I think as confusing as this decision of whether or not I should go on this master’s program was, I know I’ve made the right decision by pursuing something that I think might make me more satisfied with my life. Who knows though, this could also turn out to be the worst and most costly decision I ever make. One thing for sure is how ready I am to start this new chapter. I’m done with my degree at UNC and I’m filled with joy to be leaving North Carolina. I’m also ecstatic at the idea of living in France, the one country I have been begging my parents to let me visit since my early teen years. Fast-forward to today and I’ll be off to the country of my dream in just a couple of hours!!!

I guess this really is it. It’s the beginning of something new, something exciting… something unconquered in my life. It’s the beginning of a new chapter towards the pursuit of my happiness. So keep checking in, I’ll be writing plenty of more confusing and life-decision-making blogs posts. I hope I don’t bore you with my mundane stories about me trying to figure my life out, but I’ll make sure that I keep you along on the adventures.

xoxo from Barcelona,
Jinny