As I look back on the essays I wrote before leaving, postulating what I would get out of an experience studying abroad in Hong Kong, I find that most every prediction came true. I began my study of Chinese to explore a strong budding interest in Asian language and culture. Check. I brought my violin and joined the HKUST Philharmonic Orchestra. Check. I came to understand aspects of economic development and its interactions with policy, culture, and individual well-being both through coursework and by experiencing the city and academic environment. Check. I adapted, increased my understanding of different values that exist in the world and built incredible relationships and friendships. Check.
But more than a checklist, fulfilling each and every one of these goals among others has ignited and reignited my passions and sense of purpose. In taking on my abroad experience and making these things happen, I feel as though I have developed a new sense of self: one more daring, ambitious, open, honest, humble, and adventurous than the person who arrived to Hong Kong.
In addition to remaining incredibly grateful for having all of these dreams come true, I hope that the sunny and eager spirit I acquired while abroad continues ringing long after its toll. Namely, that I remember the joy of discovery in learning of Chinese characters, that I stay in touch with new and old best friends, and that I continue seeking to understand, enjoy, and serve my surrounding community, no matter where that may be. And I hope that these commitments might, again, come true.