In 2013, I spent a term of studies in Nanjing, supported by a Hamer Scholarship. This was a transformative experience, and a moment to pause and reflect after an intense early period of migration. At the end of that year, I wrote down a series of journal entries, one-per-day, capturing my thoughts. COVID gave me the chance to revisit them: I was somewhat moved at meeting a younger version of myself. Now that I near the end of my PhD and a major book, and begin a new major venture in green energy, I realised patterns and struggles remained oddly similar. So, I thought I might share this journal here over the coming weeks – who knows, it might resonate with someone, trigger a useful insight, or just a passing moment of self-compassion.
I don’t so much love heat as I hate cold. About five years ago, I remember sitting on the coast of Lamma island in Hong Kong, watching the ocean, in a sweatshirt in November, and thinking, I will never be cold again.
This winter in Nanjing has been harsh – I was back to the weather I thought I had fled forever, my body and mind were not prepared. But now, I’m in Guangzhou, and relishing the tropics. My mother left Alsace for the tropics, my cousin left Lorraine for Nice, I left Paris for Melbourne. I have never regretted that move, if only for the heat. I can work now, I can move, I can breathe, I can be happy, because I am never cold. Nanjing has brought back memories of the terrible humid winters in Paris, when I would walk miserable along the streets. Now, I’ve arrived in Guangzhou, and just had bananas, peanuts and milk tea by the Pearl River. Bliss!
People who live in the cold take it as a given – hating it, but bearing it. What if we could be like the birds, and flee – move to where it isn’t cold. If I can fly there, why should I stay in the wintertime?