A new journey. A new man. A new me.

A few weeks ago, I was approached with an opportunity to apply for an internship in China for two months this summer. It involves working with children as somewhat of a camp counselor, working with them in STEM (science,technology, engineering and mathematics) concepts and helping them gain experience in English.

Let me preface by saying, I have been scared of going to Asia for most of my life. It’s never been on my ‘desired destinations’ list. The fear of the unknown, of being a minority, and frankly a fear of a REALLY different government, has always made me a bit cautious of the continent. But, I plan to one day be part of a study abroad office, and for me to better advise my students, it’s better that I go where they’ll go. So, I applied for the internship.

Things went quickly from there. I had an interview, which I thought went seemingly well, and I was told I would hear by the end of February. Well the end of February came and went, so I shut the door on the idea that I’d be spending my days this summer in China. I thought too fast. March 4 rolls around, and I was visiting my best friend in Des Moines when I got an email.

“Jacquelin, we’d like to extend an invitation to you to join us in Hong Kong this summer.” The words on the page started to blur as the news sunk in. I was chosen. I’ll be living in Hong Kong from the end of June through late August, then I’ll get on a plane and move straight to France from there for grad school.

This causes a whirlwind of emotions… I’ll be gone from my family and closest friends even longer than I had expected, but it also presents me with the greatest of opportunities, so naturally, I took it.

That same weekend I found out about China a met a guy named Alex. The past several weeks we’ve talked hours through phone calls and text messages about things like sports, travel, our values and our dreams. I have been surprised and challenged by him. Very surprised. I can quite confidently say that this man is special. He presents me with a bit of a paradox though because I move over 11,000 miles away in just 103 days.

I’ve known this man for 3 weeks, yet we’ve already discussed my going abroad, long distance relationships and the like.

I’ve always been a hopeless romantic. And nine times out of ten, for me, my relationships are completely hopeless. I get my heart handed back to me saying, “no I can’t support your dreams of going abroad… I can’t do the distance. That’s too hard.” You know Alex’s response when I told him? “That’s such an amazing opportunity. You have to go. It’ll be hard being away for 6-12 months, but you’re worth it.”

Um, I’m sorry, did I hear that right?  I’m worth it???  Yea, I did.

I’ve never had someone believe in what I’m doing as much as I do. I’ve never had someone support my dreams after knowing me for such a short amount of time. Before, I saw a guy who I was close with for months. The second my moving abroad was brought up, the question of a relationship went out the window, because of course, distance doesn’t work. This isn’t the case with Alex. From the beginning we’ve both known what we’re signing up for, and it may not work. But the fact that we’re both willing to take the chance makes me believe that romance isn’t dead, that chivalry isn’t gone, and that good men are still out there to be found.

I look forward to the next 103 days of my life. Those days will include my college graduation, two weddings, packing my entire world into a few suitcases and moving… but most importantly, the next 103 days are a chance for me to fall in love. And that journey, is just as exciting as the 11,000 miles I’ll travel to get to China.


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