One Year Ago (Vor ein Jahr)

I had originally posted an abridged German version of this note on my Facebook page on 2 Feb 2012, commemorating the one-year mark of leaving Singapore to spend an exchange semester abroad in Vienna. As this marks the beginning of my wanderlust approach to life, I think it is only right to post the full English version as the first introductory post to my blog. So here goes!

“Life is a journey. We’re all going somewhere, but where are we going?”
~ Quote aboard Logos Hope Ship

On this day last year, I was at Changi Airport ready to embark on a flight to Vienna, and begin a 6 months journey away from Singapore. I could still remember my feelings at that time, excited to begin a new adventure and at the same time, apprehensive on what the future will bring. On hindsight, all that apprehension was for nothing as the time spent on exchange turned out to be one of the best, if not the best, experience I ever had. A year later, I am writing this note to celebrate and reflect on the amazing journey I had.

A year ago, I cannot write this note in German. Now I can.
A year ago, I forgot the appeal in reading novels. Now I remember.
A year ago, I cannot cook a proper meal for myself. Now I cook.
A year ago, I cannot play any musical instrument. Now I learn.
A year ago, I did not consider working overseas. Now I do.

These changes might seem superficial and amount to nothing, but perhaps, these changes spawned from a more fundamental change of mindset. And, this change in mentality has altered my lifestyle in many ways on a daily basis. I think I am better able to appreciate the simple things in life. I think I am more willing to go out and experience new things than before. For instance, before exchange, I have always decided not to pick up an instrument, attributing it to a late love for music. But now, I have decided to stop creating excuses for myself, and to finally learn an instrument given my love for music. But…

Change – is it good or bad? I used to be very content with my life before, but now not so much. Certain things do not use to affect me previously, but now it does. The ‘kiasu’ culture in Singapore seem so much more draining than before, and I now look forward to another long-term overseas stint with much eager and passion. That is, if it is even fair to pin the Singapore culture into one mere Singlish word – kiasu.

Perhaps, this is what change is all about. After all, as an economist, should I not realise that every choice necessitates a corresponding opportunity cost? Maybe, I should take all the positives I have gained, and treat all the other negative emotive dissonances as a by-product of growth. Yes, maybe it’s all about this. Growth.

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