The smell of an airport has always excited me. It's a synthetic smell, man-made. It is not an aroma that candles would be dedicated to. It's the type that would signal a memory, a powerful but subtle recollection. Like a dream almost forgotten.
I began traveling when I was very young. My grandparents, whose love, labor, and faith have brought me to the United States, also took me on my first plane ride. I was one year's old and en route to Johor Bahru -- the city of my family.
My early acclimation to terminals and long, linoleum-floored corridors implicitly created a sense of change and possibility. As I am on the precipice of one of the most dramatic changes, I want to begin this travel blog with a list of my hopes and fears for the following four months:
1. I hope to languish in the uncomfortable sense of uncertainty and find peace in the unexpected. I have tried planning my life for the small time I've had. Empty agendas are my comfort zone. But, I aspire to create adventure in Edinburgh and beyond beyond meaning, France, Denmark, Austria, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and wherever else I can go. It is strange to me to not knowing the details of where and when and how. But I want to not let this sense of spontaneity prevent me from embarking on new journeys.
2. I want to have a deep, cultural study of the places I go to. I want to hear voices of writers and poets and artists from that nationality. My biggest travel challenge is reading a new book for every out-of-country excursion I make -- reading French poets in Paris, reading Austrian writers in Vienna. Similarly, as an avid Spotify playlist maker, I want to do the same with composers and pop artists and bands. I hope to learn intricately about the struggles and issues of the people there, to observe and learn from their government systems and cultural norms. I want to learn about how California and the United States appear beyond our borders, and how that could make me a better citizen when I come home. I have lived in Southern California my whole life so I am ready to immerse with words and music that is not native to me.
3. While I will be studying in Scotland and will be surrounded by European influences, I hope to write about my origins from Malaysia-- from Sabah and Malacca. My summer has included a lot of reflection on my family and where we came from, how we got here. I hope that these ideas influence not only my writing but also my personal journey as I enter foreign territory.
4. A skill that I have prided myself on is my ability to create home, to find love and family even in strange places and people. I hope to make Scotland my newfound home. It is nothing like the Southern California that has raised me, but I can't wait to see what it will teach me. Making Edinburgh home will probably begin with getting lost and lonely, like every student who studies abroad. I hope that I find joy even in these moments. I hope to create Scotland my home by making it a place where I love and where I write. I hope that my journal is full and in my suitcase by the time I come home.
I have loved the smell of airports because my nose is tricked and believes that it will go to someplace new and uncharted. My feet have finally caught up to my nose and I am now boarding a planes--a plane that will take me to a new adventure, a new chapter to my life, a new version of myself that will be molded by the hardships and beauty of a new experience. Thank you so much for reading and I hope you follow along with me on my journey.
Final Note: As I have began to tell people about these writing projects of mine and my study abroad plan, I have been met with unbelievable support. What makes me even more excited than my upcoming adventures is the extent of how loved I am.
To my friends from high school, my old suite-mates from freshmen year, my fellow campus representatives, my dearest Soulstice League, and my most incredible family: thank you. I would not be waiting for my plane at this moment if it were not for the encouragement you have given me. In my numerous moments of doubt and fear, you all have given me strength to make this wild move. Thank you and I love you so much.