It's nearly 2 a.m. on my last night in Taiwan and I'm no where near ready to go to bed.
I should be but my brain is going too crazy for that, so I thought I would take this time to reflect a little on the past 14 months in Taiwan and the upcoming months of travel ahead of me.
Many of you may remember I cried when I left America and came to Taiwan. I was excited and nervous, but a lot of that was alleviated by the fact that I would at least know someone who was here already.
Well, now my return to America hasn't even been thought of yet and I'm planning to spend the next six weeks alone in seven different countries and then moving to yet another country where I don't know the language. This time I don't even know one person there. I'm excited to see so many amazing things and to have the opportunity to do this. I'm excited to meet new people and make friends.
But I'm nervous to meet strangers and make friends. I'm nervous about not knowing the local language in almost all the countries I'm going to. I'm nervous that it might rain too much and screw up my plans. Hell, I'm nervous about not having an actual daily itinerary and just going with a loose idea about some of the things I want to do in the next six weeks.
This whole lack of an actual schedule totally freaks me out, but not nearly as much as it would have a year ago.
Looking back on my year in Taiwan, I can see how much more independent and confident I am now. I've grown up a lot. Unfortunately, I even look older.
I'm so happy that I discovered how much I love teaching. I'm also ecstatic to find out that — despite my lack of training —the general consensus from my co-teachers, my students and their parents is that I'm a good teacher who will be missed.
I have a long way to go as far as becoming a better teacher, but it's nice to know that it's one more thing that I enjoy and I'm good at.
I'm so excited about how much I have learned in the past year. I am going to miss Taiwan and it has actually crossed my mind to come back here soon.
It's weird not really knowing what I'm doing with my life and just taking it a few months at a time. I've pretty much got the next 10 months to a year figured out, but otherwise, I'm a little foggy.
My whole life I have planned everything so I'm way out of my comfort zone here, but it actually doesn't bother me too much.
I like that I've grown into this person who is content with pushing boundaries even if it's only a little.
I have Taiwan and the amazing people I've met here to thank for the person I've become. My friends, my roommates, my co-teachers, my Chinese teachers and my students, everyone has been an incredible influence in my life and I'm sad to leave them. I hope to run into them all again one day.
In Taiwan, I've eaten things I never thought I would consider putting in my mouth, some of them I didn't hate and a few I actually really liked. I've had extensive conversations in a language I didn't even know when I got here and I can even read and write a little.
I've taught more than 300 kids some of who were the most amazing and driven kids I've met.
Don't get me wrong though. There have been moments (even in the last week) where I have considered packing up all my crap and just going back to America. There are plenty of things and people that I miss, not to mention just ways things are done sometimes.
But I'm glad I'm pushing through and it will be interesting to see how things go. If I've grown this much just hanging around Taiwan for a year, I can't even imagine what I'm going to be like in another year after visiting 11 more countries and living in yet another country where I can't read, write or speak the language and all the customs are different.
Stick around to watch me learn and continue growing up.