I began my trip to Asia on Instagram, precisely one week before I actually left. It was a soft launch of my finsta, a fake Instagram account created for the sole purpose of interacting with only a specific group of people, so that in one breathe I could answer How’s Asia with weekly dispatches. Obviously, that did not work, and I would find myself (enthusiastically) explaining in great detail the circumstances of every single photo over FaceTime to anyone that would listen.

Admittedly, I stole the Instagram weekly dispatch idea from a good friend. But to address the plagiarism claims, I introduced new and improved content. First was the anticipating portion at the end of each caption, where I would share something I was looking forward to. That lasted until Week 6 when I abruptly declared it outmoded and that in adulthood “everything isn’t always lit!” After that, I transitioned to sharing weekly bops, because music often helped ease my transition into what sometimes could only be described as extended periods of solitude and silence. Week 12 saw the last of the music recommendations after realizing that I listened to the same 10-song rotation. And finally, as is probably obvious, I numbered each week.

I do not remember why I stopped upon arriving in Singapore, but I started because I thought each week would be better than the previous. The Week 1 post, mid-way through quarantine was so optimistic because Week 3 would begin with the freedom to walk around Seoul! But it also worked the other way around, like Week 11 featuring the first time I had made a non-expatriate friend and Week 12 ending with that friendship in question due to my ignorance of Korean social etiquette. Or maybe Week 8, both the peak and low point of my Korea era, having traveled to Busan with new friends and finding out that I would be forced to leave them in just a few weeks.

I did not realize this at its conception, but this periodical became a photographic depiction of the living abroad curve we had been advised of. Both honeymoons, in Korea and Singapore. The culture shock in Singapore and subsequent routine-building. The despondency and finally feeling settled. I am not ready to leave.

Documenting every week in 10 photos and videos or less allowed me keep a very personal journal of the way Asia both crushed me and taught me to be unafraid. Personal growth is hard to quantify, but I know it was tremendous. The downs gave way to finding lifelong friends and the ups were kept humble by reminders that happiness is not achieved linearly – this year gave me the honor of learning about Asia and the challenge of deciding how it would change me. My finsta helped keep track of both my personal and physical journey while creating a highly customized reference guide, not just for myself and Asia, but for the rest of my life – my post-Asia era.

Week 47. Anticipating: law school! Song: Yaeji’s Raingurl.

by Jordan Walker on February 20, 2022