You can’t judge a book by it’s cover

At the job I do to support my writing habit, I meet a lot of international students. They arrive on the shores of the Great White North with designer luggage in their hands and dreams in their eyes.

Okay, so they don’t all have designer luggage (but a lot of them do).

Anyway, they arrive with the hopes of mastering the English language and achieving their college-education-in-an-English-speaking-country goals. What they don’t arrive with, is the expectation that the reality may be far from the dream. They don’t expect to be stuck in a house with bedbugs, or to be locked out at midnight, or have 10-12 housemates. But that is the reality they experience. One student, who kept scratching her legs in class told me that she had barely slept because she would wake up with bites on her arms and legs from the bedbugs at the place she was staying. The landlords told her she was too sensetive. Another student, while trying to keep from falling asleep in class, told me that her landlord ran the washing machine every morning. And by every morning she meant 3am. With the laundry room right beside her bedroom, she was barely getting any sleep. Another student was only allowed one load of laundry a week and was bullied by her landlord.

It sucks to be taken advantage of when you are alone in another country. I should know, because it happened to me too while I was living overseas. Living quarters that don’t look like the pictures. Pay that was half of what was in your contract. Expectations that you should work even when you are so tired you can’t stand up straight. If you have lived abroad and not experienced anything like this, count yourself one of the lucky few.

I thought for a long time that this only happened to westerners in the East. But now I think it happens everywhere. I also used to think that most Asians who came to school in the West were on that Crazy-Rich-Asians life. But now I know that this is also not true. There are so many stereotypes we can hold about people without even realizing that we do hold them. Africans in North America must have money. Brazilians all love football. Men always cheat. Pretty people don’t have problems. I thought I was a free thinking person, but I realized recently that there were still some unproven beliefs that I was courting myself. I guess you are never too old to uncover your biases. And you’re also never too old to change them either. Anyone else got some weird assumptions?

…“Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.” –  1 Samuel 16:7

Don’t stop believing

At your fingertipsI love travelling. The nervous anxiety of preparing for a trip; the picking out of the travel outfit; even the airport food. I love it. What I don’t love is booking accommodation. I don’t love the games these booking sites play with my emotions; the way they tease me with these reasonable prices, make me add them to my list of favorites, then turn around and jack up the prices the moment I am actually ready to book. Now I am out here juggling browsers, using incognito windows, creating alternate profiles, just so I can get to the truth. It feels like stalking an ex on social media. Which, of course, I would never ever do. Ever.

But yeah, I hate the booking part, which is why I have been procrastinating on booking  rooms for my next trip. It doesn’t help that I am on a shoe string budget either. After a week of checking and searching almost every day, I feel like my eyes are about to fall out.

Then today, after work, I checked again and suddenly all the prices at half a dozen of the links I saved had dropped; some of them slashed in half. Thank God! Because I and my pocket had been praying. But it reminded me of how sometimes we give up too easily. Sometimes that thing we are hoping, working and going for is right there, right beyond the tips of our fingers but we stop reaching too soon.

I’ve been reaching for some things for a while now. The opportunity to write commercially again; my dream job; the healing of some friendships; some Isaac-Rebecca style love. And sometimes, I feel like giving up. Sometimes I do give up momentarily. But this simple thing today reminded me to keep reaching, because like my underpriced hotel booking, what I am reaching for might be right beyond my fingertips. And if I reach out a little more, it might be mine.

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” – Dale Carnegie