Friday, January 24, 2014

It’s six days until I fly to Austria for my unexpected journey to the land of yodels and the Austrian Alps. I say unexpected because Austria is the last place i expected to go.
My list of possible countries to visit after the turn of the new year looked something like this: Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Poland, Czech Republic, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Obviously it would have been impossible to visit them all at once, but the plan lay somewhere in between, there or thereabouts.
Once everything fell through, Austria turned up at my doorstep as a fortunate alternative. And not a bad one at that! The details of the trip will be the content of another post in the near future, I’m sure, as I prepare to conquer the land shaped like a chicken leg (or a guitar if you squeeze out a little more imagination juice).

I’d like to think of the fact that I’ve managed to get a language certificate from my time here in Russia as a sign of me actually being productive, but the truth is, my productivity sprung to life like never before only in these past three weeks. I do not for a second doubt that the past months have helped to improve my Russian, but what I think has really pushed me on these couple of weeks is the people around me. Watching friends graduate, and others prepare themselves for internships and job searches (amongst other reasons) struck a chord in me. It flicked a switch and woke a dormant instinct inside me that I should have felt years ago. I realised that it was not OK to follow in the footsteps of so many before, waiting passively for graduation and then after being reeled off to military service for a year, emerging clueless and lost into a society that has not bothered to stop and give you a hand along the way. As it should be. The illusion of “everything will be OK in the end” is something I often hold on to, when it is the target of “make everything OK yourself” that I should be rocketing towards.

I know it isn’t easy, but step-by-step is only the way to go. This month I have hit the transition phase that I have dreaded for so long. The phase in which I tell me myself to stop thinking like a university student and start thinking like someone who needs to fend for himself; like someone who has no backup plan and only one direction to go. Once you pass this point of no return, hurdle after hurdle after hurdle of frustration and indecision lie ahead, and it is up to you to face each one, timid as you may be, to climb each rock face and scale each wall. Accompanied with unwanted embarrassment and the need to go the extra mile, there will be the unfathomable frustration of letters unanswered and résumés ignored, plus the endless counts of rejection. But we will prevail.

Yes, I still have a month before I return to Taiwan. But this month is perfect for me to sort out all the things that lie ahead this coming half a year. This moment is pivotal and crucial. I know what I want. I know where I want to be come the summer of 2014. It’s just a question of how to get there. This is work is progress. The world is not a pretty place, and this we have to accept. Once out there, it is the sacred balance we find to come out on the other side as winners and as decent human beings. JSF.

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