We’ve been traveling for 12 days now. It all happened so fast. From six months ago when we first had this idea to become digital nomads, to now 12 days into this lifestyle, it all seems very surreal.
Since we started, we’ve been running our businesses online, sharing our travel journey with daily 1-minute vlogs, and trying our best to experience the local culture. There are a lot of challenges for sure, but I’m proud that so far we are managing it all well.
When I reflect on my personal journey so far, I noticed a few changes recently due to this unique lifestyle. One of them is my understanding of the relationship between minimalism and happiness.
Here we are, in Cusco, Peru, the first stop of our two-year around-the-world travel. I missed one week of the blog post in the midst of all the crazy preparation work. At this very moment, I am sitting in this lovely bar at our Hostel. I feel like talking about our trip so far since it has been so eventful already, but first I should finish addressing why I love Canada. I realized that the further away I am from what I am familiar with, the more I think about where I came from and how I came to be where I am right now.
This blog is all about people I’ve met that have changed my life and made me fall in love with Canada.
First up, Stella.
Five years ago, I landed in Canada as an international student. In retrospect, I am very happy that I chose to come to Canada, not the US, not the UK, not anywhere else, but Canada.
Now that we are going to embark on a new adventure of travelling around the world for 2 years, we really have started to miss Canada even before we leave. Throughout my life, I have travelled and lived in many different places and I know that this, the feeling of missing a country, is something that does not happen too often.
Based on my personal experience living in Canada for 5 years so far, here are what why I love Canada.
Good evening my friends,
For those who I haven’t yet met, my name is Melody.
I landed in Canada five years ago as an international student, finished my Master of Management Program in Vancouver, worked for a few different firms both Vancouver and Toronto, and moved to London a year ago. I first started volunteering at a co-working place called Innovation Works, then was inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit in the space, found my own passion, and transitioned to start my own business.
Time flies and now I am about to embark on another journey of my life. My husband and I decided to travel around the world for two years while running our business Beyond and Be Green Monkey online. A lot of people ask us why do you want to go travel and why for so long? Well, the shortest answer is that we love experiencing different cultures and meeting people from all over the world. Also, we want to explore more of who we really are as individuals and as a couple. We want it to be for two years because we both know that this trip is not going to be a vacation or weekend getaway for us, but a lifestyle change. We want to take our time to really immerse ourselves in whole new worlds!
Recently I got a question from a friend about career choices and entrepreneurship. She asked:
“I am curious to know what are some ways for one to fund themselves once they’ve decided to commit to their entrepreneur business full time. Do you suggest someone to work full-time/part-time for living income and grow their business on the side?
I am thinking about that now I am in the process of looking for jobs, maybe I should have a job with the skills I currently have, put food on the table, and work on my own business at the same time. Or is it a better idea to choose a more challenging position to grow, gain experiences, and then pick up my business idea later?
How did you feel back then when you made the decision to become a full-time entrepreneur? How do you feel now? Was it a difficult decision?”
Officially one month left to go before we leave Canada to travel around the world for two years. In the midst of the hectic preparation, I am also getting emotional.
Today I am not going to write, but going to share something with you. Here is a blog that Innovation Works once posted, featuring me and my Success Buddies. I am sharing it here on my platform today to show how much I value this small but strong mastermind group and our friendships.
Person A is trying to cut a tree with a dull saw for hours.
Person B passes by and asks: “Why don’t you sharpen your saw first?”
Person A replied: “I can’t do that. I don’t have time.”
You might laugh at Person A but I’m sure we’ve all done something like that in past. Most recently, for example, I myself was cutting a tree with a dull saw for a long time until I finally decided to sharpen it and reaped great results.
For this week, I was preparing for the biggest event since my company Beyond was established (Launching next week! Fingers crossed!) — a 20 people focus group. It turned out quite differently than what I planned and I was once again taught how to expect the unexpected.
I got in touch with a university organization who arranges student volunteers to help out local nonprofits and social enterprises for 3 hours on anything they need help with. I was supposed to have 20 student volunteers to participate in my focus group to evaluate my product. I confirmed with the organizer twice, once a week before and once again in the same week. Then I planned everything from my end accordingly, excitedly anticipating a fun session with one of my target markets.
… Continued from Part 1
I noticed that while I am trying my best to be a real Canadian and fit into the mainstream culture, I, at the same time, am slowly losing my own cultural identity as a Chinese.
I do not speak Mandarin anymore with anyone apart from my parents, and we only talk about 2-3 times a week. I am forgetting many words and expressions in Chinese and oftentimes have to use the translator, only this time to translate from English to Chinese… It is also very hard for me to write in Chinese now, the beautiful characters developed from thousands of years ago.
(Photo by Light L on Unsplash)
Recently, I started watching a new Chinese singing competition TV show. I enjoyed the songs in beautiful Chinese lyrics and loved the melodies. Judges were very knowledgeable and well read, and were commenting with all kinds of poems and proverbs. Contestants even made videos to showcase their hometowns. While watching this, without any warning, something hit my heart and I started to cry.
I knew what it was. It was a feeling that I don’t often feel but every time when I do feel it, it always hits me hard – It was the feeling of being homesick.
It reminded me of the beautiful culture that I was born into and grew up with. I suddenly envied those people I saw on the stage who were immersed in the culture and were sharing it with the whole world. Strangely, I also felt a subtle sense of guilt and shame.
I was mindlessly scrolling down on the list of top trending videos on YouTube and picked a Chinese reality TV show/singing competition. It is the Chinese version of the international phenomenon The Voice. I love singing and I’ve been a fan of all kinds of singing competition TV shows ever since I can remember. But I’ve not been following those shows for years now so I was a bit surprised to find out that I was still interested enough to watch it.
Turned out that I not only finished watching that video, I also couldn’t stop but to search for more. I was shocked by how talented young singers are in China and impressed by the quality of the show. One new thing that I noticed is the strong influence of Western music styles this season. Of course the influence is always there and there used to be other memorable contestants in the past seasons who tried Jazz, Blues, R&B, and Rap on the stage. But it is clear that now both the singers and the audience are getting more and more comfortable with this influence and presentation.
Needless to say, I am really happy to see the change. I’ve been singing English songs when the majority of my friends in China didn’t even know these singers whose songs I was listening to. So naturally, for me it was a good sign to see that now there is a much better acceptance of international influence into the mainstream culture in China.
At the same time, I am conflicted deep inside for a very important reason. To put it in a simple way, I think it is an identity crisis that I am experiencing. But it is more complicated than it sounds. Let me try to explain to you and also break it down for myself.