If a stranger approached me last summer and told me that I would end up packing my bags and moving to another country across the world right before starting university, I would think they had mistaken me for another girl. When I received my acceptance letter to study abroad in China, I was at a loss for words. Not only had I already packed my bags to leave for University of Florida, I also had only one day to make the biggest decision of my teenage years.
My name is Kate and I’m originally from Philadelphia. It’s that time of year and a lot of you are probably getting ready to start university or applying to them. I’m here to tell you my story and how Yes Theory single handedly chucked my college plans (that I have been working on since I was 12 years old) out the window.
Last August I was stuck in a serious predicament and miraculously, a few weeks before, I came across a Youtube channel called the Yes Theory. These friends make it their mission to travel around the world to seek discomfort in their everyday lives by simply saying “yes” to spontaneous situations that allow them to be more open minded. I have always been a person that prefers to feel at ease and comfortable rather than deal with anything that seems unfamiliar. But little did I know that these guys from Yes Theory were about to change everything.
Before I knew it, I was boarding the plane by myself about to start a new chapter of my life in Beijing with no idea how to speak the language and oh was it a challenge. Let’s just say I got really good at charades. It didn’t take me long to make friends and soon everyday became a brand new adventure. I immediately started a travel journal so I could always look back at these amazing memories with all the unforgettable people I have met so far from around the world (I suggest you guys to do the same). 3 months flew by and my GAP semester was soon coming to an end. But something didn’t feel quite right. I was not done here. Can you figure out what I did next?
Yep I emailed University of Florida and told them something along the lines of “heyyy so guess who extended their gap semester…” At this point, I was now taking 20+ hours a week of Mandarin so bye bye charades. A new semester meant new people and more unique experiences. Just to give you a small taste of some of the interesting experiences I had during my gap year:
1) Joined a dragon boat team and flew to other provinces in China to go compete against local and foreign teams
2) Marched straight into the security room of the Pearl Market and took over the security cameras to help my friend track down the people that stole her bag
3) Learned that it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, the clubs were always lively and for my going away party, we partied to see the sunrise at Tiananmen Square (imagine the tourists’ faces when they saw us coming out of the taxi)
4) Rode camels and went sledding in the desert in Inner Mongolia only to almost freeze to death at night when the electricity went out and our heater broke
5) Ran a 5K at a DJ Run to the Beat party at the Ming Tombs
6) Cartwheeled across the Great Wall
However, there were also instances that made this whole living across the world by myself challenging. For example, I accidentally booked my flight home a month after my courses for the year ended so I had a month to kill before going back to the states. All of my friends were leaving and I was soon going to stuck in Beijing alone. So, what did I do?
I booked a bunch of one way flights to go explore the world by myself. Crazy thing is, it wasn’t the first time I did this either. After midterms, I flew to Singapore, Hong Kong, Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo in only oNe WeEK. I got accustomed to traveling by myself because it’s so much more faster and efficient. As soon as finals ended, I traveled to Kuala Lumpur, Bali, Bangkok, Auckland, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, and Helsinki.
The coolest thing about studying abroad is now that I have friends all over the world. At every location, I met up with my friends as they gave me tours around their cities. If it weren’t for them I would have been stuck only seeing the typical touristy places but they took me to their favorite spots and introduced me to their favorite local foods (which is the most important to me lmao). Along the way, I also somehow met some Yes Theory viewers which was crazy.
Without Yes Theory, I would not have had the courage to say “yes” to this insane mind-boggling opportunity to study abroad. This three letter word has changed my life and I am forever thankful for the impact the guys had on me and I’m sure the same applies for whoever is reading this right now.
I have always loved art and creating content that people can enjoy. It has always been a dream of mine to be able to make people from all over the world happy or smile when they see my art. Below, you can find a piece that I designed awhile back I never got to share so better late than never.
As well as the fanart, I also decided to design a baseball cap with a saying that has changed my outlook on life. It’s basically a reminder to live a little and that not everything has to be so serious all the time. “Just Say Yes”. A percentage of the profits will go towards my non profit I have been working tirelessly on.
If any of you have questions regarding taking GAP years, studying abroad, living in China, traveling alone, tips for planning trips, etc. all of my social media is listed under the "Contact" tab.
My name is Kate and this is my Yes Theory story.
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