Alexia Fuller lets us into her thoughts as she navigates a new adventure in the region.
In March of this year, I had to attend my required visit to the university student administration office, something I always find a nerve-racking, even a fearful experience. (You never know what you’ll hear from a university administrator – “Actually, you cannot get credit for this overseas study,” “Actually, this completed course cannot count towards this major and you therefore cannot graduate”) This time was no exception – there was a surprise waiting for me.
This college administrator entered the room to survey my transcript. What followed was something I couldn’t quite believe: “You know, you’ve done enough courses not to need to come back next semester.”
I didn’t really know what to say. My perfectly calculated down to the wire degree had just been thrown out the window with this new finding. As it turned out though, this administrator had granted me an incredible opportunity one filled with fears and findings.Friends, family and alike all took a place in the line to give me advice on how best to find a way to craft the blank canvas of what was, at that stage, an eight month break in my degree.
Get a job. Do an internship. Do further study.
But none of their suggestions seemed appealing.
I had spent the bulk of my degree studying Asia and the Pacific and realised that I hadn’t travelled all that extensively through the region I have read about so extensively in academic literature. I had academic findings a bundle but they seemed to pale in light of what I could find out as a traveller.
I had read about the Red and Yellow Shirts in Bangkok but never visited. I had turned the many pages of history books on Ho Chi Minh but never actually seen where he did his greatest work. And I had heard of the mysterious Burma locked away for decades but never unlocked its door.
Now this was an idea that all my family and friends had an opinion on. Some viewed only the fears and others could see the possible findings shine through.
“Why would you want to travel to places like India? You will get sick and robbed.” said one caring aunt, who was blinded by her fears.
“Halong Bay in Vietnam is easily the most beautiful place on earth” said a loving friend who recognised the value of in potential findings.
This binary has and continues to swirl in my head. Fears, which can cripple and must be overcome. And finding the glorious outcome of overcoming your fears and embracing the crazy that is a new place.