“I am from Henan, China, and this is my first time travelling to a different country. I travelled here alone, have been living here on my own, and I don’t mind really – I have always liked being on my own. But I did get acquainted with a new emotion here: fear.
Once, I passed this pair of teenage boys and heard one of them mutter ‘Asians’ under his breath. It’s these little things that can make you uncomfortably hyper-aware of being a foreigner in the country, and it is a feeling I am still getting used to. And I feel helpless in these situations, because I don’t have a good enough grasp of spoken English to respond properly.
I have definitely found strength and support with other women. While choosing my accommodation preferences, I didn’t go for the ‘mixed gender’ option, even though I am very comfortable with and close to my male friends back home. In retrospect, I realize how, even before coming here, I was associating an all-female space with a sense of security and comfort. My flatmates and I look out for each other – two of them are Chinese, and they help me navigate the occasional language barrier too.
I still like to take solitary walks. The activity feels a bit heavier here, more like a challenge. But I am learning, and I try not to let my identity as an Asian woman weigh me down too much.”