Heading to Hong Kong

4 Sep

In my last semester before graduation, I wanted to travel. Physically, I wanted to start a journey, but mentally and spiritually, I wanted to end one.  By this I’m referring to inner travel, a concept often discussed in a spiritual setting. However, for a 22-year-old economics student, I find inner travel to be the best way to describe where I’ve been and where I’d like to go.

Four years ago I traded the sunny coast of California for the corn and soy fields of Indiana. Culture shock was something I’d never experienced before, and that is what greeted me when I moved in to Earhart Hall freshman year. Since then, I’ve had the chance to know some absolutely brilliant people, from my time on the crew team, in the greek community, as an editor at The Exponent, and as a Boiler Gold Rush Team Leader. However, if it weren’t for my school work, I don’t think I would have been able to learn as much about the world as I did while on campus.

Economics is not the study of money, contrary to popular belief. Rather, it is the study of human behavior. This resonated well with me because of a trip I took after middle school; the last time I left the United States. I visited my ancestral homeland, India. One day we woke up early and traveled for two days through the mountains to end up at Bodh Gaya, a very holy site for Buddhists. We walked past the Buddhist temples and learned the story of Siddhartha Gautama; a story which sparked my fascination with inner travel.

For those not familiar with the story of Siddhartha Gautama, let me give you a quick recap. He was a prince in India and his father wished to seclude him from the world  so he could not see the suffering around him. Eventually Siddhartha defiantly left the shelter of his palace’s walls. What he saw shocked him. He left his palace to travel the world in hopes of finding the truth about life, otherwise known as enlightenment. According to Buddhist traditions, around 500 BC Siddhartha was wondering around Bodh Gaya when he came to a Bodhi tree where he meditated for three days and attained enlightenment.

That Bodhi tree is still there in Bodh Gaya, and as I sat underneath it I couldn’t help but begin to ask the questions. These questions were ones we have all asked ourselves – about the meaning of life and the world around us. But how does one answer or even look and observe life?  Today, economics has become not just a means to analyze the world around me but a means to analyze myself – who I am and what I value. This kind analysis of oneself is what I consider to be inner travel.

This is all I want from my time studying abroad in Hong Kong. I want to explore myself and mechanisms I’ve learned from 4 years of schooling that help me cope, exist and interact with the world.  While abroad I plan to write more about eastern philosophy and religion, economics, food (I plan to smash dim sum like no Hong Kong restaurant has ever seen!), and more analysis and observations of the world around me.

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One Response to “Heading to Hong Kong”

  1. April November 6, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

    Shaan, you write beautifully! Really enjoy following your adventures. Keep it up! I’m sharing this blog with Jasmine who will be in HK next spring.

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