I was living my life through a lens. I had trapped myself in a white picket fence. Trained my mind to dance to the distortion. Then an unexpected opportunity presented itself, to come and study in Wuhan, China. So no matter how much I felt aghast and chained to the rhythm of my bubble, I understood I couldn’t reach for anything new if my hands were still full of yesterday’s junk. My very first day in Wuhan, I remember how I chortled seeing the lights, gazing at the infrastructure that thrilled me and my jaw dropped at every turn. Wuhan has an appealing night life. Where I was coming from you couldn’t even find taxi cabs at midnight. It is occupied by the most cheerful people you can find on earth. From the cab drivers to my class teachers and classmates, they were all different branches cut from the same tree, tree of kindness. Scary. That was the word that kept knocking at the back of my head. In that moment I made a conclusion: Wuhan is not a place for any intro-vert, everything is fast, and everyone is so….cordial.
First day of classes, I did not greet anyone. People think you’re judgmental when you sit quietly in a social setting. It is interesting trying to explain to people who don’t experience social exhaustion that there are some people who are less draining than others. And then there are those who are mind numbingly exasperating. Good thing I never got to deal with all that. My teachers were full time inclusive. I’d rather say their teaching technique is stupendous. A deep respect for education has always been a major feature of the Chinese people. What I like about education here is that they allow you to question, analyze and debate. Now for someone who doesn’t like interacting that much you would imagine I ran away from the spotlight. Several attempts but to no avail, until I learned to love standing in front of people and being able to enjoy the satisfaction that comes from within.
Each day after class I began at the gallop. I always seem to think it’s a rarity to find some-one to connect with. The only thing I had and could not lose was my shadow. Literally. There is not a single day I ever felt lonely. Most times I would prefer being in class. Start-ing classes at 8am and finishing at 8pm, which would be the best day of the week. I sel-dom found myself idle with such a tight schedule. And it was the perfect excuse to not make conversations or attend parties. “I have class early morning tomorrow.” See, for me it is more than exploring Wuhan education. For me it has provided more than a place I get knowledge. Malcom Forbes said, “Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.”
So it occupies my mind. I still do prefer being class. Just lesser hours. What changed? I embraced the now. After reading Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, I realized I needed to start saying yes to opportunities. I recently took an interest in photography. This is just the beginning of seeing Wuhan through different lens. I get to bust open that bubble and break down the walls. I figured, Wuhan is mine for the taking, and so is it for anyone else
who lives in Wuhan. The common belief that when you study abroad, you change your per-sonality and lose yourself in the process, I think those conclusions are quite repugnant. It is my third year in Wuhan, and I have never been more focused than I am now. I have ex-actly two friends. Not like two best friends and a whole classroom of friends, no, just two who happen to be the best. One person asked me why I only have two friends, at the risk of sounding like a cliché I replied, “It is about quality not quantity”.
An undeniable obsession towards music always makes my day. I often take bus rides, two-hour-long bus rides enjoying Wuhan’s view. Music is my muse, all languages, genres and on the bus I can unlock ideas. Especially when there is a traffic jam, I know that is yet an-other chance to converse with the commuters. That’s right, converse, I am saying yes to conversations. It’s so amazing how Chinese people in Wuhan are so easy to talk to and gig-gle with. They are not racist and complements come flying they leave you feeling good about yourself. I have plenty of book collections in my possession. This is the other way I spend my time. I get that many people find solace in watching movies and staying in bed. I don’t fancy many hours watching movies. There is a lot of isolation and loneliness that comes with TV watching. It can lead to depression because you won’t have enough time to interact with people and share your issues out.
So I guess if I had to play the honest card, Wuhan is definitely a place you can grow to love. This is from my perspective. There is so much more that happens around Wuhan city that I don’t even know yet. There are so many ways to find happiness and be content dur-ing the period you will be in Wuhan. Not rushing is essential because eventually Wuhan will always provide you someone or something that would have been worth the wait. The schools provide opportunities to mingle and make connections with someone from a differ-ent continent. Diversity is the key. Diversity and inclusion are about giving value to every human being, no matter our differences. And which better place does that than Wuhan filled with all these different people? You just have to embrace the magic that comes with Wuhan. It is entirely worth it. Changes will come in different volumes and sizes, you choose to either let them build you or demolish you.