At the end of my junior year of college, I left San Diego for Waterloo, Canada, to intern at Google. I’d then go on to:
- Intern in San Francisco
- Study abroad in Rome
- Return to school in San Diego—and graduate
- Intern in San Francisco, again
- Return home to San Jose
Leaving for Canada felt like going up the Drop Tower at Great America. I felt a pit in my stomach and a whole lot of anxiety.
The trip itself was like the drop. I was first terrified, and also giddy, but after getting used to the sensation, I just about enjoyed myself.
I feel so lucky to have gotten to finish college growing up against this changing backdrop. Through these experiences and some thinking, I have some beliefs that make up the core of my being. Here’s one.
The world is huge, and made of infinitely many bubbles.
Most Americans won’t ever go to Waterloo. They’ll never go clubbing at Phil’s or get shawarma at Mozy’s. Or buy Campus Pizza at 3am. It’s not some big city, like LA, NYC, or Toronto.
People aren’t going to Waterloo to “see the world”.
But here’s the thing…
Waterloo is the world. As in, the world is mostly made of Waterloos. The world is mostly made up of places you’ve never heard of.
Places you’ve never heard of, with people you’ll never know. People with jobs and local haunts just like yours, going about their business.
This still blows my mind. My mind can’t process the sheer volume of the world, with all its nooks and crannies. It’s too much.
Not only is the world enormous, but it’s made up of infinitely many bubbles.
Now, what do you think when you hear the word, bubble?
I think of my high school, and my university in SD. I think of the SF tech bubble, which I’m entering.
Bubble has a negative connotation. Bubble suggests a limited worldview. Bubble popping? Suggests getting out there and seeing the world.
But is it not the case, that you just exchange one bubble for another?
I loved my time studying abroad. When my mind chances on the little things that made up Rome… oh good gosh, take me back.
My charming professors and their classes. Piazza Navona, Testaccio Market, and omg, The School of Athens. The crowded tram ride to school, with all my beautiful friends packed like sardines. Our weekend trips to other gorgeous cities in Europe.
And one final Sunday, spent walking through the lush neighborhood of Garbatella…
I heard over and over from friends studying abroad that their programs were escapes from their respective bubbles, and also, enriched their lives.
My time in Rome enriched my life, 100%.
But I won’t kid myself. On our enormous planet, I met a small set of people and went to a small set of places.
I just swapped one bubble: one small world, one limited experience, one sliver of the human condition—for another.
Escaping to another bubble, escaping to another community, won’t solve your problems. You might find as I did, moving to a new place just lands you different worries.
But as I moved between bubbles, realizing each has its ups and downs, I developed a deep conviction. That I am insignificant and fleeting. That my sorrows are insignificant and fleeting.
That in this infinite world of infinite bubbles, we are but specks of soap. At best, we can sparkle in the light.