Teacher Diaries: Mr. Adam – Treasures

The treasure that I would like to share is the treasure of travel.

‘And what should they of England know who only England know?’

Perhaps the best way to grow and understand yourself is to become a foreigner. Travel is not only a way to broaden one’s horizons, but it is also a way to truly understand where you come from and who you are.

Over the past decade, I have been fortunate enough to spend a fair amount of time travelling. Both close to home, and to the other side of the world; sometimes with friends and family, sometimes alone. Every time I stepped off the plane back onto English soil, I felt I had grown and knew myself and my country a little better. Perhaps the memory that most sticks out in my mind is the first solo trip I took to another country.

My first adventure was when, aged nineteen, I journeyed alone to Japan. Knowing that you stand on the other side of the world from everything you have ever known is a truly alienating experience, especially in sweltering August heat, surrounded by people who don’t speak English. Two weeks in Japan taught me that the ‘normal’ that I had been accustomed to could be just as foreign to Japanese people as the revolving sushi belts and enchanting bamboo forests were to me. After a fortnight spent making all sorts of new friends, after hours marinating in hot springs and after (somehow) managing to navigate a few high-speed ventures on futuristic bullet trains, I dragged myself reluctantly through Narita airport to return to a milder climate. As soon as I left the plane, I knew I was seeing myself and my country through new eyes.

From that time up to now, I have further deepened my understanding of my own country and place in the world through time spent abroad. From an immersive study programme in Greece, to teaching in a health college in South Korea, and even to volunteering in a psychiatric hospital in rural Japan, every moment has been a step along the way to where I am now.

Of course, where I am now is Hong Kong. Coming here to start a new life in a new city on the other side of the world has presented me with totally unforeseen challenges, and led me to discover more about myself and my own identity than I had ever imagined. However, I believe I may never have been ready to throw myself into Hong Kong if I had not first opened myself up with that first short trip to Japan. What at the time seemed like a fun (if a little scary!) jaunt to a cool Asian country really laid the foundations for the fantastic opportunities I am able to enjoy today.

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