Hi friends – old and new, young and old, in HK or abroad, hope you have all been well.
The past month was quite eventful. I went to a Muslim country for Christmas, had the first oral exam in my life, had my best friend visit me for a long weekend, witnessed the first day of snow in Denmark and just got back from Málaga having rock-climbed for the first time. Yeah. Some of you probably have no idea what I am talking about. Or at least still think that I live in Hong Kong. Sorry about that. I didn’t become a different person (or maybe I did). There had just been many things that happened. It took me a while to process them all and explain myself, so I just stayed silent on social media or keep it brief when people asked. Long story short, since September, I have been studying my master’s in Copenhagen. Other than that, I am swimming a bit, writing a bit, sleeping a bit more, and biking a lot more. Actually, I am also fucking a lot more.
Here I live alongside mostly Danes. My class is very international, but 80% European and 95% white. In Europe, the entrance barrier to tertiary education is so low that a master’s degree is quite common for those who want moderately ambitious careers. But in Hong Kong (like most parts of the world) it is not necessary at all. Being surrounded by Danes and my classmates, sometimes I forget that. Sometimes I forget why I am here. Of course, I am not saying I am better than everyone else because I moved to the happiest country in the world to do something I technically don’t need to. I know I am extremely privileged to even have that choice. Everyone has his/ her own reasons, I am just saying I also have mine.
Before I left, I caught up with Cynthia, one of my oldest friends who I shamefully hadn’t seen for the longest time. She didn’t seem surprised by the news, “you just don’t fit in Hong Kong very well”, she said. Perhaps she was right. I have always wanted to get out of Hong Kong. It is way too hot and humid, way too many people, and way too much bullshit with the government. For 23 years of my life, I wouldn’t say it was the time I spent in Hong Kong that I enjoyed the most. After graduating from HKU, I even felt trapped because I wasn’t yet independent, I wasn’t travelling enough, I wasn’t trying new things. After going on exchange in Sheffield, I wanted to try “making it” in Europe, and that required a master’s degree. So I had the plan to study a master’s degree in Europe, just not that soon.
But then Brexit happened. Europe was pretty much falling apart (at least it seemed so), and I feared my access to cheap/ free good education as a foreigner would soon be gone. That’s not good, because I can’t afford going to the US or the UK and I didn’t want to ask my parents for money. They were also dealing with their shit. And also I was getting maybe a little too comfortable with my job. I loved it, my colleagues were cool people from whom I learnt so much, it had many perks around the food festival season, and I was getting more interesting tasks. However, I was also getting just a little too comfortable. So I felt it was a good time to leave. Maybe I was escaping, but whatever, I wanted to go.
Just 2-3 years ago I would probably make up some childhood memory excuse to link my adult decisions and I could honestly write and publish them on this blog. That’s called “storytelling”. That’s fine, that’s how I used to roll, because we are all trying to make sense of our lives, to find a meaning behind everything we do. But after the past 2 years especially because of my family’s drama, I just realised that sometimes things don’t make sense at all. When it comes to other people’s lives, no matter how close they are to you, there is just nothing you can do. After coming to Copenhagen I met a lot of new people and I noticed how much more often I recall my childhood in my thinking and talking. But I wasn’t trying to use them to make sense of what I am doing now, because I knew I made my recent decisions consciously. They were just anecdotes that I reference to make an example, or memories that I recall when I feel a bit nostalgic. (Fuck, am I getting old?) In a way I guess that’s better. Of course we are all affected by our parents and how we were brought up, but they don’t need to mean anything more than we give them the power to. And probably, no one really cares, which is liberating.
Now I kind of “made it” to Europe – I got accepted in a programme I liked (and enjoy), I am making new friends (and keeping the old) and I am deciding for myself what to eat in every meal (mum I love your cooking but it’s just incredibly freeing to eat whatever I like even they are not necessarily junk food). I am also going to the swimming pool a lot, which helps clear my mind when studies get a bit too much. Life seems to be pretty good at the moment – I don’t want to expect too much from it, I will just take it as it is. I don’t know if I will stay in Europe (or anywhere) for the rest of my life, definitely not one country or city. But I also don’t know where else I will go. After coming all the way from Hong Kong and not really feeling homesick, I realised that having a physical place where you call “home” is probably overrated. If there is a cool opportunity that I can take, I don’t see why I wouldn’t travel and live somewhere else for a while. So that’s why the title of this entry – I am in Europe again. This time for long – but just maybe.
Cover photo: Frederiksberg Gardens, Copenhagen, October 2018