It’s almost 2am in China. My flight to Boston leaves at 10am. The day after I arrive, which will be Saturday, Aug 26, I’m going to run some small errands for my mom, grab lunch with my high school best friends, and go to a Red Sox game. The next day my parents and I will finally drive down to Pennsylvania.

This summer has been… long. In the best way possible. I’ve travelled the most mileage, met the highest number of strangers, and lived independently for the longest time since birth (College, especially Dickinson, is such as a bubble that it shouldn’t count as an independent-living environment!).

It starting off as me spending about an entire week catching up on sleep and moisturizing my dry lips resulted from drinking approximately three straight Americano each day during finals. Then I entered the antsy phase when I refused to get up until my parents came flipping my cover and demanding me to walk our dog; amidst the pointless sleeping, I found time for some fun reuniting with friends, as well as some family gathering events that I went under near-coercion.

On June 4th, I got on an Amtrak Northeast Regional train and went to D.C. on my own with two suitcases that were like 100 lbs each and a huge carry-on. I insisted on travelling to D.C. by myself, despite my mother’s relentless request to come along. I considered the train ride as the symbolic first step as I stepped away from my sheltered childhood/teen life and into independent adulthood.

I started my internship in the office of Congresswoman Niki Tsongas on June 5th along with four other interns. I was the youngest there: Among us, there were a rising sophomore (me), rising junior, rising senior, and graduated seniors. I wrote extensively on this blog about my love and admiration for my office and, in particular, my boss, Niki. My friends in D.C. made fun of my constant fangirl mentionings of Niki, but I really did see a role model in the Congresswoman and feel fortunate to have her as my first official boss. With absolutely no signs of it during my time in the office, I was shocked to see Niki’s announcement of retirement three days after I left.

When Niki took us to lunch at the Members’ Dining Room, the only male intern this summer, Owen, who would start law school at University of Pennsylvania this all, told us that he wrote on his law school application for the question, “What’s your career plan “, he said that he hoped to represent the Third District.

Niki simpered, “But not too soon!”

Unless Owen could run for office as a third year law school student, I guess I would see more of a stranger to Niki’s post. I only hope that whoever MA Third District would elect in 2018 would carry on Niki’s work and commitment to fight for all. Working for her this summer showed me how to stick to one’s belief when nothing seemed to be on one’s side.

This summer, having lived in D.C. for nine weeks and then travelled home to China for another three weeks, I learned tremendously about myself, where I’d want to be and go, and how to get there. I realized that I thrived in cities because they were full of life and people. I realized that I was young, starry-eyed, and restless. I realized that there was a whole, unexplored world out there. I realized that I loved, loved, LOVED that world. I realized that I wanted to be in that world as soon as possible.

And I realized that Dickinson might not be that world for me.

I found a lot of beauties in the town of Carlisle, but I thought I found peace when I was in D.C. and in Shenzhen, China, a city with 12 million people and thousands of newly constructed skyscrapers. Yes, there probably isn’t real “peace” in such populated cities with so many cars, buses, and horrible weather. But I loved hearing my heart pumping when I breathed in the not-so-clean city air, when I stared into the endless city lights, when I stood in the middle of a sweat-ful metro car, when I walked among strangers on the streets knowing everyone was heading to somewhere to do something to fight for their livelihoods.

Plenty of people who abhor cities. I don’t. Perhaps it was just the connection-aspect, or the fun-aspect, or museums, or even just food and shops, I find cities magically attractive and alive. Cities give me life.

I have spent a substantial amount of time in D.C. and then in Shenzhen contemplating my future and how my college experience would shape my future. In the upcoming semester, I would devote more time to asking myself questions and searching for answers. I planned on going to Bologna in the Spring, which would be a perfect way to attain a more global perspective for an IS major. If the answers that I would find match the ones I found this summer, I shall start exploring options to continue my college career in a much more metropolitan environment.

Nothing is set in stone, but I know there is a heart pumping timidly but increasingly loudly. It is dying for something new, thrilling, and challenging. There is a whole new world. I think I saw a glimpse of it this summer.