7 Days to go…

Well, the time is here. Only one more week until I on the adventure of a lifetime in China. The main question I’ve been getting this week is ‘how are you feeling?’

It’s surprisingly hard to answer. As I said to someone today, I don’t think the realities of living overseas for a year will really hit me until I step off the plane at Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport. I’m excited, obviously, because I love travelling and seeing new cultures. I’m scared, because I’ve never visited China before so really have no idea what to expect. And there is a little bit of sadness mixed in with the other emotions because I’m leaving everything I know to go to China.

There’s only so much you can pre-plan before a trip like this. Being me, I’ve written a detailed packing list and got my passport, visa, insurance and extra passport photos ready. I’ve got a VPN lined up so I can still get on Facebook and (most importantly) Netflix this year. I’ve decided which bags and shoes are coming, and sorted out a good winter coat for the 6 degree weather I’m heading into.

Yet there’s still a feeling of nervousness. I’m definitely not as excited as I was to go to Europe – that was a touristy trip, even though I did study at Cambridge while I was there. I went into that trip looking forward to making new friends and getting to see new places.

This trip feels different. Even though I’m lucky enough to be going with my three best friends from uni, I still feel quite alone. In a fit of honesty the other day, I said to a friend that if it was Europe there’s no doubt I would be excited. China is a bit more challenging – the language barriers are higher, and the cultural differences could be overwhelming.

Well, only one more week to go before I begin my new life in China. This time next Friday I’ll be at the airport waiting to board the 10pm flight to Hong Kong, and on to Hangzhou. I’ve got a lot to do in the next week, and saying goodbye to everyone will be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It’s important to keep looking forward and thinking about all the great things that I’ll experience this year, with my best friends by my side.

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Because it’s 1989 and I’m feelin’ 22

Guess where I went last week! If you’re not a huge fan, you probably can’t (although, judging by the amount of Facebook posts I saw last night half of Sydney was at ANZ stadium). If you guessed Taylor Swift, you’re correct! Also known as Tay-Tay, T-Swift and T-Swizzle (thanks Google for keeping me up to date on the latest twelvie nicknames), the blonde bombshell herself landed in Sydney for a one-night-only stadium extravaganza.

bernie and mic taylor swift 2015
Bernie and I before the show started.

You know, I still remember the first time I heard a T-Swizzle song. I was in Year 8, at a 14th birthday sleepover for one of my friends. Being the cool cats that we were, we had Video Hits on in the morning, and Love Story played. I was the only person in the room who instantly hated the song.

And I mean hated. Seriously I don’t know why I had such a strong, instant dislike to the fairly harmless pop-country crossover, but I did. I’ve always hated the stupid teenage obsessions that teenagers get, and I think my dislike of Love Story probably stemmed from this.

So, my intense dislike continued through my sister dragging me to the Fearless concert in 2009 (which I maintain is the single most boring concert I have EVER sat through in my life), my refusal to go to the consequent Speak Now 2011 tour….even throughout the 2013 Red Tour, which I went to with a bunch of school friends.

And then, something changed. I think it was while I was watching Tay-Tay bounce around on stage at the Red Tour, but for some strange reason I suddenly and irrevocably found a love for Taylor Swift.

However, something about this concert didn’t sit quite right with me. It was an absolutely spectacular show, and Taylor did one of the best performances in a stadium I’ve ever seen. The reason I was uncomfortable was the constant interruptions from her all-powerful ‘girl squad’ throughout the concert. Every five songs or so we were treated to a ten-minute interlude with a variety of famous faces telling us everything they love about Tay.

I don’t think it’s the video itself that I found awkward, I think it was the constant reminder that even as adults there’s always an ‘in-group’. There’s always a group that are cooler and slightly more fun than everyone else, and you will never make it into that group. I’m not sure that we should be encouraging young girls to aspire to join Taylor’s ‘girl-squad’.

Taylor Swift is a great role model for young girls, and she has a great back story – small, country singer turned into global pop sensation. I just hope she doesn’t forget that millions of young girls around the world are looking up to her.

And just to lighten up the end of this blog post, here’s a video of Tay-Tay and a surprise guest in the USA: