Since I have come back from Ecuador, countless people have asked me about my experience. And I’ve realized that I always talk about Ecuador nicely; not because I’m scared of offending anyone or because I want to battle against the stereotypes, but because I actually, truly love Ecuador. I love how I could see the mountains everywhere, and how the nature made me feel so at peace with myself and with the world. I love how people would stop for a friendly conversation. I love how I had so many opportunities to try new things. I love the laid back way of living. I love the exotic fruits, the colorful markets, the spontaneity…the list could go on and on.
Maybe that is why the reverse culture shock hit me so hard when I came back. I sat on the subway but everyone was looking at their phones and no one wanted a conversation. I stared at the buildings and felt suffocated. I started to be dragged back into this swirl of consumerism. I was sick of the beauty standards and the concept of the ‘conventional path’ imposed by the society. I felt like a stranger in my own city and I felt like I didn’t belong. Aware of my thoughts and emotions, I began to delve into the reason why I was feeling that way.
Perhaps we travel because we want to be in an unfamiliar place, so that we can escape from the old routines and have fun without living the responsibilities of the actually living there; you don’t have to worry about the politics, the economy, or the societal problems. I guess it is the same for me. Although Ecuador is a place I hold very close to my heart and somewhere I really care about, 8 months was not enough to learn about all of Ecuador. In comparison, I know so much about Hong Kong, including the good and the bad. The reason why I am so frustrated with my city is because I care about it, but I am also unable to change everything I don’t like about it.
But maybe we don’t have change everything in one go. Be the change you want to be and the people around you will follow. Change the society starting with each individual.