Culture shock has always been a foreign term for me. I never understood what this meant, I always just thought “It shouldn’t be shocking, I know that other parts of the world are different. It can’t be THAT different, can it…?” To my utter surprise, this was the case. Studying abroad internationally in Hong Kong would open my eyes to a whole new world.
I experienced most of the stages of culture shock. Arriving on my own, I felt an internal sense of excitement and curiosity as my eyes took in what would be my home for the following month. Something as simple as a bus would capture my attention as I took in what Hong Kong’s culture had to offer. With the change in temperature, and the humidity that would consume me throughout all times of the day, I felt my frustrations begin as I adapted to the changes in environment and culture. To my surprise, I did not feel homesick or depressed. I felt helpless at times as the language barrier was stronger than ever in my life, and defeated as I would spend an enormous amount of time trying to figure my way around, but with this I came to learn how to have patience with myself, as I navigated a new environment. I knew that these experiences were shaping me into who I needed to become.
After a week and a half, I felt like a local, which had acclimated to the climate and transportation system, as well as the common cultural practices around food. I tried everything, from traditional dim sum dishes to desserts. With the friendships I had created through my study abroad program, I had found a new home within Hong Kong. Thus, I spent the rest of the days maximizing every experience, learning about the culture through museums, scenery, food, and so much more.
Coming home was much harder than I had imagined. After my study abroad program, I solo traveled around Thailand and had the experience of a lifetime. Both Hong Kong and Thailand hold a special place in my heart. I had to hold back tears as I packed and prepped myself for the airplane ride home, knowing that these places and experiences were ingrained in my heart forever. Readjusting myself back home has been a smooth transition, despite the jet lag that came with my travels. I have learned to grow an appreciation for life, and feel my soul is at peace due to my experiences abroad.
From my experience abroad, what I miss most are the people and memories I created in such a foreign place. Getting to know my classmates in and out through the program and adventures we underwent in Hong Kong would be ones that I can never forget. Our favorite adventures would revolve around food, as we explored Hong Kong’s exquisite cuisines.
Now that I am back home, I am extremely happy to be reunited with my people; my family, my friends, my support system that continually pushes me to be the best version of myself. As I re-adjust to life back home, I notice the differences in culture when it comes to food the environment here in Los Angeles. It’s been eye-opening comparing the differences between the two.
As I re-adjust back home and have completed my coursework at UCLA, I am now currently applying to jobs in marketing and personal training. In doing so, I am searching for careers that will align with my passion for helping others through health and wellness. Furthermore, I will continue to work on my fitness personal brand by sharing my experiences abroad with others through my Instagram and YouTube channel. I will let my passions guide me as I navigate the next chapter in my life.