A Journey Between Cantons | St. Lawrence University

A Journey Between Cantons

Thursday, April 4, 2019

I’ve always been intrigued by Venezuelan insults. I believe there is a profound creativity in the Spanish used to wish bad luck to someone in my home country, but there is a particular insult that has always really intrigued me: “I hope you move." Not as in “I hope you go away”, but more along the lines of, “I hope you go live in a different house and have an arduous hassle in the process of moving." Yeah. It is for sure a safe-for-work idiom, but still encapsulates a lot of negative emotions someone might want to transmit to someone else in an insult. You may still wonder though, why would such a “boring” phrase be so intriguing?

Long story short: I had the privilege of finishing my junior and senior year of high school in Hong Kong, a massive metropolitan city bordering the tropical Canton province of China. Now that I am in college, I found myself ricocheting halfway across the globe to a small-town campus in the nothing-to-do-with-tropical Canton, New York. Some might argue this comes close to the definition of arduous moving, yet for me it has been opposite to the emotions Venezuelans aim to condense in their meaning of “I hope you move."

Any transition obviously comes with its ups and downs. I, for sure, miss being able to hop on the MTR (the Hong Kong metro system) and seamlessly move from fishing piers in Sai Kung to the dynamic downtown of Central in minutes. Yet, there is a charm in being in the “middle of nowhere” Canton, or "the center of everything," as a friend would say. First, it is not really in the middle of nowhere. Sure, the A1 Chinese delivery is nothing compared to the streets vendors of any Hong Kong alley, but it, at least in my group of friends, is still sort of a cultural phenomenon and a nice place to bond and chat over some fried rice. Second, Canton is not really isolated as much as it is united. The community and culture that are created by the conditions of this place are wonderful and unimaginable anywhere else. There is always something going on in the SLU machine even when the surroundings seem static; call it the the late-night laser tag in our Student Center or the ping pong games and oxygen bars by the Winston Room.

And, surely this place is not tropical, which was a hard pill to swallow at first. I thought that the only positive thing about -30-degree weather is that it’s the same in Celsius and Fahrenheit, so I wouldn’t be lost all the time. Regardless, I’ve really enjoyed my first experience with snow. I got to make my first snowman (it looked more like a snow-rat, but I’ll take it) and after a while, it has seemed to become part of my routine. And you know what? I have only fallen once so far, and I am proud of that.

Moving to St. Lawrence has been a little bit of a hassle, but one where I feel that after enough work and adaptation, I can say I am content with where I am. Hopefully I don’t have to move all that soon.