Emma’s letter turned out to be a small window beyond my home universe. Mongolia and its immense grasslands invaded my mind until I could almost feel the wind of those places, so strong as to cut your cheeks.
Emma and I have the same supervisor, and in December, we made the dreaded thesis proposal to a commission of renowned professors from our Academy. In the days preceding the thesis proposal, Emma and I encouraged and helped each other. The empathy created between expats in China is beautiful, both in the study and at work. Since my first arrival, I have found people to count on. Friends have spent hours in a row to help me activate a sim card or a whole day to listen to the list of problems and concerns I have.
Living abroad, especially in a dormitory full of people from all over the world, we help each other as in a community. In China I found a family. I created my peaceful oasis while complaining a lot about the changes, the university’s unstable internet connection, the unpredictable climate of Hangzhou, the surprise inspections by the international office, or the thesis. In difficulties, the most beautiful friendships and relationships are born; I see it in this situation that has suddenly caught us all. None of us were ready to stop the time, and I can’t help but think about the cluttered desks of some offices in a mess a bit like our lives now that they can no longer project themselves into the future. Spending more time at home, perhaps we have only now discovered our neighbor’s name and whether he is elderly, a student, a doctor, or a musician. This forced isolation has not only brought us to know ourselves more but also those around us.
We are all at home to safeguard the weakest and most at risk of contagion. In this extraordinary situation, we made a sacrifice to protect the others. In this period, we are rediscovering ourselves in need of giving and receiving love and supporting those around us. We do it with a phone call or a simple gesture of solidarity. On the web, I see who is mobilizing to give masks and who instead provides meals for those who unfortunately cannot afford them anymore. Small gestures can make a difference.
I decided to see only the beauty of what is arising from this situation, a bit like I did in China when everything seemed to go wrong, but I knew that I could always count on someone.
Emma, in her letter, speaks about the present as a gift, even in these not quite easy times. If you’ve never seen the Groundhog Day movie with Bill Murray, this is the right time to do it. The protagonist is always living the same day, at least until he learns something from his daily life. Perhaps we, too, are forced to live these monotonous days until we will learn something from this isolation period. Today we are learning to be better people tomorrow; this is truly a gift.
I am writing this letter from the countryside of Mongolia, which is far from the crowded city. I returned on the 7th of February from my winter trip which included Bali and Nusa Penida in Indonesia, and Kuala Lumpur which is the capital city of Malaysia. When we left China we have no idea about Covid-19. After Covid-19 spread out of China, My parents wanted me to come back to Mongolia as soon as possible. That time I didn’t have winter clothes. We searched for winter clothes in Kuala Lumpur for 2 days. Thankfully UNIQLO had one last pair of winter pants which were exactly my size. I found flight transfer in Bangkok. The funny thing is that people were avoiding sitting next to me in the airport because I look Chinese. I thought it was better for me during this time
Now I am in a small town in which things are normal. Toilet paper is still in the shop. People are living as usual, only wearing masks when they leave their home. Policemen are checking driver’s mask on the road. Spring is one of the busiest seasons in Mongolia, especially in the countryside because we have to take care of the new-born cuties. I mean baby lambs and kids. I think it’s a good time to think about our fast and consider about how humans used to live. We do so many unnecessary things in life. Now we have to pause our “fast” life and think, plan more and replay again. Don’t need to panic so much. Stay positive and healthy!
I wanna use one quote: Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why it is called PRESENT. 加油人类。 Enjoy your present life, spend time with beloved family. We can pass through this weird time! 加油！I miss my friends in Hangzhou and all around the world. Hug for everyone from distance