After finally buying my ticket back to school, it dawned me that I'm really about to leave this cruel but exhilarating country that I had the honor to live in for the past six months during my co-op - the longest I've lived in my birth country since I was six years old.
China is a formidable country with jaw-dropping infrastructure. It is also a country bursting with opportunities and potential for anyone willing to get their hands dirty and put in the hard work. The pace at which it grows will put you to awe, but if you're lucky enough to be apart of China's growth by living/working in it, you will find yourself grow as rapid as it is as well.
Working at this company in Shanghai, I got to play the role of the project manager, the MC, the QA, the IT guy, the translator, the database manager, the software developer, the consultant, the one responsible for talking to the customers who all spoke Chinese, and more.
I got to meet Christine, Brianna, Duy, and Christina who were my shining beacons of light during the most stressful times of my co-op. I got to play and learn from Jw who is seriously one of the most optimistic, funniest, wise, and 自恋 guy I know. I got to party with my crazy party animal relatives during Chinese New Year, such as not only sharing actual red pockets, but also WeChat/Alipay red pockets, making it the best Chinese New Year of my life [so far].
I got to interact with my family (all many dozens of them; I seem to meet new family members that I've never seen every time I come back), especially my mother and my sister with her ADORABLE son, the longest I ever had, discussing values, sharing stories, and empathizing on the happiness and sorrows.
Coming back to China to co-op finally gave me the opportunity to really grok with my family. I learned to man the hell up and take on the responsibilities of the family. Your parents and elders that you've idolized are just as any human as you are, with their own insecurities, fears, values, and goals in life, just as you do, but they never told you in order to shield and protect you from the world while you grow up.
I learned to tell myself "stay calm, you have nothing to be afraid of", such as when my boss left me for two weeks to the USA during the most vital time of the project launch - before going live. Linda telling me to "take over" when both my project managers and lead developer left the company was something I needed to hear. There's no use bitching or whining when faced with challenges - the only action is to stay calm and keep moving.
I learned that I can achieve the things I want to do and more if I put in the hard work and drive to it. It's no use being just "smart" - you must put in the hard work and passion. People like Bryan, Pally, and Yi Fei exemplifies this idea, and is something I am continuously working to improve by learning from them.
I learned I am so fortunate, spoiled, whether it's from where I get my education, to where I live, the quality of the air I breathe, the safety of the food I eat, and the things I own. I complained when I never realized how fortunate I really am.
Most importantly, I learned to not be afraid to be uncomfortable. To actually crave the feeling of being uncomfortable. Being comfortable means you're satisfied where you are. Being satisfied with where you currently are means you don't see anything within you to improve. And that's not right - there is always something you can improve on within yourself or the place around you. To crave being uncomfortable and expose yourself to uncomfortable situations means you're continually pushing yourself to change your status quo and limits, and define new ones, which you'll destroy once again. One can never stop learning as there should be no such thing as "being satisfied".
The world, in particular China, isn't a fair or soft place. You're not special, your opinion doesn't really matter, and your value is based on how you can help others succeed. And that's totally fine. You learn to be less sensitive and "take it less personally" this way, and that's what most of us should learn, myself included.
There is seriously so much more I can express and so many more people I want to show gratitude to have met/interacted with while interning in China, especially my boss who kicked my ass, took so much of his time to mentor me, and gave me the opportunities to be uncomfortable. I also want to thank my awesome Chinese coworkers like Yimo and Ammad (and many many others that don't have/use Facebook) that were ever patient, kind, funny, and understanding of me. Lunch will be a lot less exciting and stress-relieving when we're not eating 辣客 or 楼澜 in a huge 12-person table.
It's bittersweet to go, but with the end of one chapter in life is the start to another. There is so much in this world for all of us to learn, to improve on, to laugh, to cry, to share - isn't life exciting?
Thank you, China, for making me uncomfortable.