Flash forward to a year later and I’m back on the plane.
By 3 p.m I had already navigated three airports, flown in a Cessna 402 with a handful of other brave souls, and been greeted by the cheerful security in Newark, NJ. Now, it was just a waiting game. A 14 hour waiting game.
Slurping down a hot cup o’ noodles, I reclined back into my cramped space and suddenly thought to myself, “This is crazy. What the hell am I doing here?”. I could feel a wave of anxious uncertainty creeping up my stomach. Self doubt had won the battle more times than I’d like to admit, but I had learned a thing or two over the years. Mindfulness had helped me to mitigate these wild thoughts on many occasions. I paused and reminded myself, “this will be just as easy as the last time”. The feeling in my chest descended back down, and my heart rate returned to normal. I’m heading back to that magnificent city.
But, on much different terms than the last time.
Rather than preparing for a guided academic field trip, I would be taking on a new role alongside the very professor that introduced me to this place just a year ago. On our itinerary bestowed the task of hosting a 7-day, multi-city conference in both Hong Kong and it’s close relative, Macau. And although it was a great honor to do so, the thought of this responsibility incited that queazy feeling in my gut. How should I act? What would I wear? Hell, how do I even get to the hotel once we land? These and many other frivolous thoughts compounded in my head.
“Just take it one step at a time,” I told myself.
Granted, this trip marked a few “first times” for me. I would be working abroad, and basically traveling solo to Asia. While most of my experiences had been neatly punctual and arranged, this would be different. More autonomous in nature. How should I know what to expect? And so, I sat there in my seat, climbed back out my introspective rabbit hole, and swallowed another bite of noodles.
I would find out soon enough.