Today marks the 490th day since I came to Canada. It’s been a strange 16 months for me: quitting my first official full-time and relatively well-paid job, going overseas for study, choosing a major that back then I didn’t know would change my entire views of journalism–a field that I thought I would commit to for the rest of my life–and government–an institution I deemed full of dirty politics, corruption, hypocrisy that I would never want to work in, exploring career options in Hong Kong, Vancouver and Beijing.

All seems to have happened in a blink of an eye. So fast that I was almost unprepared, if not still am. It is as if someone has been pressing the fast forward button at a film featuring my life. Or I have gotten too used to the slow-paced life in a campus surrounded by snow-covered mountains, endless ocean, wild life and above all, tranquility.

It is a lie that I have never doubted my choice of leaving home, burdening my family with heavy tuition fee and daily expenditure. Vancouver is a gorgeous city (except for the rain). University of British Columbia is a resource-rich and research-friendly environment. Master’s program is a perfect opportunity to explore one’s potentials and interests. But they are also expensive: I have to spend, on average, around $1,500 for rent, food, books, mobile phone bills, etc. I am living 40 minutes’ bus away from campus already. I am barely able to cover my daily expenses.

Do I regret my choice? Not at all. Have I ever wondered what my life would be had I not made the choice? Many times. According to Chinese standards–and law, oddly enough–a woman is considered as “marrying at a late age” if she marries after 23 (25 for men). Perhaps that’s why my WeChat Moment is full of wedding photos, new-born babies even, posted by my peer. Will I wonder? Of course.

But life is about choice, or more accurately, trade-off. Had I not left home, I wouldn’t know how precious every second I spend with my grandparents and parents is. Had I not met various kinds of people, I wouldn’t realize how much genuine and trustworthy friends mean to me. Had I not came abroad, I wouldn’t know my country has become one of the hottest topics in global arena, that my mother tongue is recognized as a language in a place far away from its origin, that human beings are all the same in essence but also vary greatly from person to person.

“Where do you see yourself in five year?” asked my supervisor at the very first meeting we had. The question came up again in many of our subsequent conversations. And so far, I don’t have a clear answer to it.

Before I made up my mind to quit my job, I had read my favourite poem over and over again, hoping it would somehow offer me a hint, or courage at least, for an unknown future. Another year has passed, and I am reading it again, to myself and all of you who are patiently reading my rare self-exposing post. May it gives you the courage to listen to your hear, follow where it leads you, and most importantly, not regret the choice you make.

The Road Not Taken  by Robert Frost 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.