Gap Year

Why, hello there stranger.

It’s been a while, dear diary.

A few updates:

I promise I’ve been intending to write. Something about the monotony of my days in dreary suburban American life compared to the race-neck pace of Beijing study abroad life combined with an a splash of anxiety from realizing this is up on the Internet for all to see… leads to a pretty long writer’s block. Or maybe that’s just my excuse for pigging out and chilling out and hanging out at home for four months and not writing.

What exactly does all of this pigging and chilling and hanging entail? Well, for one, I’ve decided to study Arabic. I’m fumbling my way through Alif Baa about once a week with a dear family friend, perhaps I’ll write about them soon. (No promises though, you know I’m not great at keeping those here.) I’m having once-a-week French conversation classes on Skype and puzzling my way through French short stories. I’ve also been trying (emphasis on trying) to get back into Chinese-mode, memorizing characters with Pleco’s wonderful flashcard test function, working my way through the HSK textbook, and watching Chinese dramas (with the Chinese subtitles!).

I’ve been running, doing yoga, and today I had my first kendo lesson. Something to pass on: ki ken tai ichi (気剣体一) means the unity of mind/spirit, sword, and body. All three must be in unity to make a valid strike in kendo. And your ki, your spirit, is expressed through your projecting your voice. I’m excited!

I’ve also been catching up on all of the media consumption I feel like I’ve missed this year (i.e. binging Youtube, Netflix, etc.) and reading all the books that have been staring at me from my shelf for years.

For example, I read Marcus Aurelius’s meditations at the beach with my family earlier this month.

17. Continual awareness of all time and space, of the size and life span of the things around us. A grape seed in infinite space. A half twist of a corkscrew against eternity.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Upsetting, isn’t it? Can someone please give me the watered-down version? How does one take philosophy and use it as a tool to guide their mind without getting all embittered and nihilistic? Reading an old dead man’s diary was certainly entertaining, but thought-provoking? I don’t really know what to think. After all, words don’t really mean much in the grand scheme of things.

And yet, I think that I will still write. After all, I am taking a gap year this year—isn’t this the time to document how I grow and change?

I’m just a little apprehensive. It is a pandemic, after all. I’m not going to be backpacking Mongolia or swimming in Australia, but I have ideas about Istanbul and Seoul for this fall and winter and possibly Taipei for next spring. I promise I’ll be safe. I’ll keep you posted.

Yours,

Mei

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