Reflection and What Lies Ahead

As we wrap up our time in Hanoi, I want to reflect on some of the lessons we have learned as well as explain what lead us to this point. The challenges we have faced have taught us a lot about ourselves and we are more determined than ever to achieve our goals. We can’t wait to see what else we will learn in the next few months of travel.

Studying at my favorite boba shop, Yu Tang (back when I still had a working laptop…)

Sean and I will leave Hanoi and head to our next destination, Hong Kong, in one week. This comes as a relief for Sean and me since we would not only appreciate change, but we have also had a difficult time in Hanoi. We’re particularly excited about being in a country where we are slightly more familiar with the culture and language, having been to China before. We look forward to having opportunities to practice our Mandarin and to experience southern Chinese cuisine.

Sean and I realized we haven’t been super clear about our goals and plans for the next few months so I’m going to try to lay that out for you here. At the beginning of this trip, we didn’t really have a plan for how we were going to spend our time here. We figured we might try teaching English online or start our own web development business, but we found that those ideas were either uninspiring or over ambitious. We started planning this trip with a fantasy about being digital nomads traveling throughout Asia with our location-independent jobs. In reality, we were surprised to find how much we missed living in Seattle and the comforts of having a place to really call home. With this realization in mind, we decided that what we really wanted was to take these 5-6 months abroad to prepare ourselves for an improved life in Seattle. We loved living in Seattle, but we felt a bit stuck in our jobs and felt a need for a change of pace. Since timing of our lease and Sean’s contract lined up and we had managed to save up enough money, we decided it was time for that change. After selling everything and saying goodbye to dear friends, we road tripped back to Asheville, NC to visit family and prepare for our travels. Here is what remains of our SE Asia trip:

  •  Now – Feb. 4: Hanoi, Vietnam
  •  Feb. 4 – Feb. 11: Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  •  Feb. 11 – Apr. 4: Shenzhen, China
  •  Apr. 4 – Apr. 18: Chiang Mai, Thailand
  •  Apr. 18: Asheville, NC
  •  ???: Seattle

The date we move to Seattle depends on when Sean or I get a job in Seattle. We hope that our efforts on this trip will pay off and allow us to quickly move to Seattle after our return to Asheville. Besides the programming skills, our time abroad has taught us so much about ourselves. We still have MANY moments of doubt or lack of motivation, but Sean and I are always aiming to learn and improve. I’ll admit that I’m proud of how far we have come. We have learned so much about managing our time, pushing through the moments of homesickness and uncertainty about our decisions, as well as recognizing when it’s time to step back and pause to appreciate our accomplishments and struggles. Our final goals by the end of this trip are to have numerous experiences in the places we will travel to between now and mid-April and to gain the software development skills necessary to get well-suited jobs in Seattle upon our return.

Thank you all for your words of encouragement and for following us as we explore new places and figure out what we’re doing. I look forward to sharing our adventures in Hong Kong, next week!


10 Comments Add yours

  1. Melissa says:

    Thanks for the update~ Have you made any new friends in your travels? I don’t remember you mentioning it. Building connections is a prerequisite of a place feeling like home, in my experience. Ohhh eat all the best Baozi in Hong Kong!! 😀 The local parks are beautiful too. 加油加油!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. christina_mcm says:

      No not really, that’s been one of our greatest challenges. We have started to look into tons of meetups in Hong Kong and Shenzhen so we hope to have more opportunities to meet people. Thanks for the tip though, I hadn’t realized the importance of making such connections while living abroad! And yes, so excited for Chinese food and for hiking in HK (there isn’t a ton of greenery in Hanoi and we’re craving nature time so much!)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dianne Banner says:

    Christina you write so beautifully. Maybe consider writing some kind of travel log/book for millienials. Enjoy the rest of your trip. Our best to Sean. See you in Asheville

    Liked by 1 person

    1. christina_mcm says:

      Thanks, Dianne! This blog has been a great way for Sean and I to practice writing. It’s also been a super effective way of sharing our experiences abroad with family and friends (and other travelers)!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Derick says:


    请让我知道香港的KFC 好不好吃


    Liked by 1 person

    1. christina_mcm says:


      Liked by 1 person

  4. GERARD A STAMM says:

    Ahh, to live the intentional life! It’s got to be the best way to do it, but don’t forget serendipity, spontaneity, and the sheer fun of jumping off the cliff into the ocean.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. christina_mcm says:

      That’s a good reminder! I tend to try and predict and plan for anything and everything even though it can end up being counterproductive or take away from living and appreciating the moment. Hope I can find a good balance for myself.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Cara Hayes says:

    Hey you two,

    Oh I miss you both so much you can’t even know (maybe you do know if you’re homesick). I think this blog post is a good summary and transition before taking your next step. It’s okay to figure out on the fly. I feel like Nancy Ellington would definitely approve considering your age and job experience (wise older sister talkin’, you know I have all the answers 😉 ;P )

    Reading your post really makes me miss you guys and I wish we had more opportunities to be together. Just today I thought: “Why do I question Mom’s judgement?” then I realized that sometimes she’s very logical and reasoned, and other times very impulsive (a good candidate for consumer theory) anyway, I was wishing you two could have been there because I feel you would’ve said “I know exactly what you mean”.

    I don’t care where you are now, young and exploring, in Seattle etc. (just as we are in France), I just want you both to make seeing Brian and me a priority in the future.

    Je vous embrasse fort,
    P.S. I think it’s crazy you can read those symbols.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. christina_mcm says:

      Haha, thank you for your words of wisdom ❤️ and yes, I know we have both wished for more time with the two of you. I feel like, especially as we get a little older, we have a lot in common and would make for great friends/siblings. I also hope we can visit and talk more even as we are on opposite sides of the world.

      Christina and Sean
      P.S. I often think it’s crazy too, haha!

      Liked by 1 person

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