“We are far, far from home; but we’re so happy.”

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“We are far, far from home; but we’re so happy.” –From Finner, Of Monsters & Men

If there is one thing that I have learned about myself in my experiences studying in both Indonesia and Vietnam, it is that I am happiest when surrounded by people who do not know me yet. I have seen this in my transformations between high school and Clarkson University, and then from there to Hobart and William Smith Colleges. It has come more apparent after being here for over a month, that distance does bring clarity on so many levels.

No one knows who you were the day before. Every single day you can reinvent yourself.

I’m finding out more and more about myself every minute of every day. I am also becoming more of the person that I want to be. I am more confident in my decisions, and ability to make them. I am proud of the things that I have done to get me to the place that I am today.

Every morning, I write down three goals for the day and in the evening, three good things* that occurred that day. These two practices not only keep me optimistic, but also goal-driven. As a person with a bit of perfectionism, I know very well how easy it can be to let failures and barriers get in the way of accomplishing a goal that seems too far out of reach. It’s the little things in life which push me to accomplish these goals. Today, a lovely little things occurred…

Sitting on a bench, watching as the still lake welcomes the morning. I write in my journal, reflecting on the lovely night I had filled with love, laughter, and wonderful friends. I look out to the many folks enjoying the nice warm weather. I see three young girls giggling, looking at me. I put down my journal and welcome them over.

They begin to explain to me that they are learning English, and ask if they can practice with me. Excited for an opportunity to both help them, and also practice my Vietnamese, I ask them to sit down with me. The questions they had included things such as “Where are you from? What are your hobbies? Can you sing to us?” Their teacher came over and explained to me that this was the first time they had spoken to a foreigner, and was grateful that they were so successful.

We took a photo together (on their phones), they said “You are kind. Thank you for liking Vietnam,” and then they scurried away.

My favorite days here have been the ones that I spend wandering. I am so far from home, but I am so happy. It feels amazing to finally say that. Happiness does not have to be where you expect it to be. It might just be down an ally.

*3 good things a day: Last summer, I met the most inspirational person I have ever known, Ron Reed. For those of you who know Ron, or have heard me speak of him, you know exactly what I’m talking about. There is so much I could say about this person, but I would need way more than 500 words. Ron had a practice that he did which I have now taken up. Every night, he writes down three good things that happened that day. They can be as simple as “I saw a dog” or as complex as “I had a humbling realization that the world is much bigger than I”. No matter how much has happened in your day, you can always find the good. I urge each of you to try this, and see how it makes you feel. :) Thank you, Ron. You are missed.