So... here we are. One month on, end of the road for this small blog. And also one month on after I travelled to Borneo and back again. Can't believe its actually been a month!
I'll get the boring stuff out of the way first. University is finished, Jessie and I provided a presentation to our class about our trip (we were only given 14 minutes to present, which is kinda difficult to say the least when you have an entire month of experiences and data to talk about!). Jessie and Christina are graduating this year, while I continue on for one last year while I complete my writing major, and end up with two degrees for the price of one. Jodie made her way to Germany for a long overdue meetup with family and friends... and a week after we returned Rojieka, our PACOS coordinator, actually visited Macquarie University, so I ran into her for a quickfire hello before she and the group of NGOs affiliated with the university were whisked off to some important event.
So thats the boring stuff (!). But what do I feel? Its been so flatchat that at first I didn't even stop to think about it. Uni life takes priority, of course...
But then I did. I suppose the main change in myself now is that I feel happier. Or different. Yeah, different is a much better word to put it. But a happier kind of different. I did try and get back into the gym again (with 'mixed' results), but beyond that, I also started to look at myself introspectively.
In the words of Bilbo Baggins, I felt like I had yearned for a trip like this for so long because I felt "thin, stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread" (university does that to you.) I was looking for a chance to escape the mynotony, process a few things in my own head, and get the kick in the teeth I needed to feel and gain that spark in life again that I felt I missed.
Did I achieve that? Yes and No. I mean, I certainly got all of that out of my trip, but I also saw that coming from my own perspective, we are humans, who worry, hope for the best, and want things to be exactly the way we like them. We don't get that, no matter how hard we try.
I got what I wanted, but more. I saw places, ways of life and people that I didn't even know existed. And that is good. It is an eye-opener. It is a memory. It is a small thing that you say you've done on a CV, but it is more. To be there makes you reflect on your own culture, your own desires and aims, the aims of others around you, the buildings around you, the place around you. Everything is different. To step back and look outside it, especially in comparison with other societies, is something so unique, yet so reinvigorating.
See what I mean? Its a happier kind of different. But it is a 'lens' that we as human beings should use more often. I'm a lot happier now for it. It does wonders for me in terms of my mental health, my academic capabilities, my social capabilities: it makes everything click. The only problem is that we as humans get complacent as we readjust to what 'normal' is (being our little world here at Macquarie University), and it leads to you taking this world for granted.
I hope not to reach that endpoint. I am helped by the fact that I have done this trip, and I say that I do encourage others to do something like this. Why? It will make you look on the world differently too, but in a good kind of way.
While my trip is over, the journey never ends. I continue on into academic life and beyond, but this 'lens' that I've picked up (and hopefully, will not lose), can be something I use for whatever endeavour I may challenge myself with in the future. I can see it already working wonders now. A creative writing piece that I have completed on my trip, which was published in The Quarry, has just received the highest creative writing mark I have ever receieved (a Distinction, which is no mean feat when it comes something as subjective as creative writing markers), and I can only hope it leads to more.
So, I guess in a way, to finish this I must make reference to a piece I wrote back in March, for the website GetLIVIN. In that piece I said that for success in life, one should "grasp life by both hands and go for it, appreciate every moment you have, and wear your heart on your sleeve. Be proud of who you are, but never lose the ability to laugh at yourself. Enjoy the journey that you take in life, no matter what you face; enjoy crying as much as laughing, love with an open heart, and don’t give a damn what anyone thinks!" I agree with it even more so now, but also I'd like to add something extra: you should always question. Question why peoples around the world are so different. Question why peoples hurt each other, question the way things are, question the way things could (or should be). Question yourself, others, and how you treat one another. And above all, always question with your 'lens', for how else are we to see the world?
Thanks once again to PACOS, the village people of Kampung Kiau and Kampung Tambatuon, AVI, Macquarie University, Jodie, Jessie and Christina for sharing this awesome experience with me. Peace out!