Author: Connie from China

Four years ago, it was my first time in Europe. I was an exchange student in Munich, staying in a host family, and at the same time, I did a lot of traveling. All of those journeys amazed me a lot. It opened my mind and I started to know, there are other ways you can live your life. Then I began my global journey because I found myself enjoy experiencing the different lifestyles that people have.

I thought I was very open to the world, since I have seen so many people, in different skin colours, in different clothes, having different food. I would say I am a world traveller. To be honest, I do have my preference after experiencing all these various cultures. And I started having expectations.

In Munich, I had a very pleasant stay in a host family. I was treated like a family member and feeling at home very much. So I supposed this is what a homestay should be like. But I was totally upset when I was in a homestay in Australia. We had very little conversation; everyone was merely watching TV at dinner. I didn’t enjoy my stay in Australia at all.

It was the same as the initial days when I came here at Healingcastle. I did this work exchange because I had great memory of volunteering in a hostel in Taiwan. Recently I was frustrated looking for a job in London, so I wanted to have that great experience once more. That is my expectation. I expected my feeling would be the same as I had in Taiwan. But the story was totally different here. In the first three days, I have been busy getting around, gardening, serving guests and sometimes taking negative feedback from Ingrid. I was quite upset, and I just wanted to go home.

I began to calm down a bit after a few days, after adjusted myself here. But I shouldn’t say I was happy being here. I talked to my parents. I said, I’d like to do the dishes, mop the floor etc., but I am not feeling loved here. My mom said, you are feeling ok doing these when you are unpaid, but what if you are paid to do these? Do you feel undervalued yourself?

Sad but true. I have been always a role model, always attended good schools, and did amazing things. So subconsciously, I limited myself by looking for a job in certain fields I like, or I should be in. I also expected things should act like what I saw before. If that is not the case, I would not enjoy myself and emotionally being upset. ‘Stand on the ground, just do something, even selling a product in a supermarket. Experience it.’ My parents told me so.

I began to ruminate and things started to change, gradually. I was feeling more relaxed and happy here. Things ran the same, but my inner self changed. Open yourself to the world doesn’t mean visiting countries after countries, it is about getting rid of your expectations, and experience how it is. Suddenly, I released a lot more at the same time. For instance, I supposed people should cook Chinese in the same way I knew, otherwise I would get agitated. But now I laughed myself. Just have a bite and experience it.

Mission completed. I learnt a lot and now it is time to leave. Thank you all for being here with me: Ingrid, Jim, Christine, Dinija, Linda, Rita and Keera.

Connie Chan