I'm Tara.

I'm just a silly little girl who likes to go places and tell her silly little stories.

SLK documents the adventures I've had across 5 continents & who I've become on my journeys. 

You can read my full story here!

room with a {new point of} view

room with a {new point of} view

I felt completely defeated by Friday morning. Like 'pack-up-your-bags-China-and-you-just-do-not-go-together-so-leave' kind of defeated.

I was waiting to hear back from a friend. I had managed to find an apartment but had yet to secure a lease and it was my last night at my hotel paid for courtesy of my employer. I still hadn't managed to find a bank that would allow me to open an account. I hadn't eaten more than an apple, which I had an allergic reaction to, and bits of a very strange salad ordered for me by sweet Miga, {which included kidney beans, pasta, kiwi fruit, avocado, orange slices, and a purple dressing}. I found out last minute I had to complete a second medical clearance, this time in-country, which included blood samples, an ultrasound, a check of my ears/eyes/reflexes, getting weighed and measured, and a thorough respiratory examination. I was trying to be my positive self, but the silver linings were impossible to see through the city smog and nothing felt 'on.' 

I was so frustrated by my own inability to make anything that needed to get done happen that I was fully ready to through in the towel. I've lived in multiple foreign countries across different continents. I've traveled alone. Why was this so hard? I've never been one who could easily hide her internal dialogue and many emotions. I thought I was better at disguising it all, however, it seems I wear my heart on my sleeve even when it's battered. Amy, a British co-worker, grabbed my arm and, without giving me a choice, took me to grab a coffee at one of the many stands outside the main office. 

"I've cried in the last four weeks more than I have in my entire life," she said out of nowhere. 

I looked up at her. "Really?"

"Without question. This is a much bigger move than anyone realizes, even for someone who has traveled a lot. China is..."


"So hard. And it's frustrating in a way no one could understand unless they lived in China alone away from their boyfriend. The language barrier isn't just about not being able to talk to people. You can't read any signs or addresses. It's hard to know what you're buying."

"I'm so glad I'm not the only one. It makes me feel so much better." 

Amy laughed as she started to tear up, which, of course, made me feel the well of tears start bubbling to the top. 

We walked back together with our coffees, laughing at shared anecdotes of the ridiculous and wild things we've both seen in our incredibly short stints here thus far.

Clement, a South African co-worker who bonded with me over rugby and cricket chat, and I had a similar discussion. He and I talked while at the medical center about the Chinese and their culture. He's lived in China with his wife for the last three years and they were full of survival tips. They really have the best advice for anyone new here! 

Russel, an Australian finance officer who helped me find a realty "agent" via WeChat, had THE SAME conversation with me too. Ours was over a walk through a produce store somewhere between the dragonfruit and the durian. "I know you're harder than that, America. You don't strike me as a soft chick," he joked.   

It's these little connections that have turned everything around.

After grabbing the coffee with Amy, I suddenly felt like my mind had met back up with my body. I realized that in less than a week, I'd had coffee dates, invitations to multiple houses for home-cooked meals and board games, and like...'friends.' 

Once Amy and I strolled back to the office, I grabbed Miga and was hell-bound to get shit sorted. Come Saturday morning, I wouldn't be homeless or bankless or hopeless. I fully rallied. 

And it all came together...thanks mostly to Miga. 

It's Saturday. I'm sitting in my studio apartment on the 27th floor of a building with a doorman named Mooshu {yes, like the dragon in Mulan} and I'm seeing things differently. I have both a new literal view out my window and a fresh perspective on my life here. My table is adorned with purple flowers from Russel and his Aussie flatmates who have taken me under their wing in a sick {and failing} attempt to convince me that I could ever pick their island as my favourite in the Pacific. I have new bedding {paid for by my company as a total surprise to me!} that Miga picked out with little pink swirls on it. I feel so good. And happy. I'm in the saddle, whether I make it out of the gate or not. 

China is not home. It just isn't. And I have this heart-led-instinct that it won't ever be. That's okay. It doesn't have to be this perfect little place that I want to stay forever. It doesn't have to live up to the standards other countries I've nestled myself into have set. China owes me nothing, but I owe China my best effort. It's an adventure. 

I guess what I'm saying in this super long ramble is that...

...I think I'm gonna be okay, guys ;) 

Maybe even fantastic. 

This weekend I am going out to Indian for a 'Welcome' dinner with co-workers, visiting an intenrational bookshop with Amy {and stealing movies off her hard drive!!}, and checking out a Chinese zoo that hopefully really is all about species study and preservation...though I'm a hard skeptic...with a few girl friends I've been lucky enough to make! 

Hongshan Zoo: the most heartbreaking $6 I've ever spent

Hongshan Zoo: the most heartbreaking $6 I've ever spent

nĭ hăo from China

nĭ hăo from China