525,600 Minutes

I’m not a numbers person. Give me a chart, a graph, a photo, or anything else, I can usually figure out what is going on. But just numbers? They aren’t that helpful to me. But there is a kind of magic in making the numbers tell a story.

In my humanities course about musical theater, we wrote and performed original musicals about social issues that impact our lives. The class was divided into two teams, and for most of the semester we didn’t have much contact. Until, after each of our performances we came together into a mass choir and sang “Seasons of Love” from Rent. The song is about trying to identify moments that define your life; sunsets, midnights, cups of coffee, inches, miles, laughter, or strife that fill in the 525,600 minutes of each year.

Storytelling, I’ve learned throughout the years, isn’t about simply transcribing reality. There is the objective truth of what happens day by day, but there is also an emotional truth that swells and falls with the passage of time. In this blog, I know I can’t even begin to approach objective truth, no one wants to read a daily journal about my study habits, but I hope to tap into the emotional truth of my experience abroad. I’ve tried  reflective essays, thematic essays, history posts, travel guides, cultural tips, travel tricks, and photo dumps, so I want to try something a little different. Here are my 525,600 minutes by the numbers.

1 Country
2 Systems
3 Languages (English, Mandarin, Cantonese)
4 Times random strangers declared their love for me
5 Visitors in two weeks
6 Smoothies per week in Chengdu
7 Hour layover in Seattle
8 Antibiotic pills taken this past year
9 Cups of coffee per week (on average)
10 Weeks together with my intern friends
11 The bus I take nearly every day in Hong Kong
12 Favorite noodle toppings
13 Hour time difference between China and home
14 Days until I return home
15 Weeks in Chengdu
16 Renminbi each morning for breakfast baos
17 My sister’s birthday, which I missed while I was in China
18 My sister’s birthday, which I will miss again, because I will be in Washington D.C.
19 Hours by van from Tagong to Chengdu
20 Hong Kong Dollars for a latte in my travel mug on campus
24 Dumplings in one sitting
28 Group-mates in HUMA 2105 Phobia production
29 Knitted projects completed
32 Ounces of water per day, hot or cold, as a personal health goal
40-some Skype dates
45 Usernames, passwords, student numbers, and other identifying information I must remember
55 Hours riding the train from Chengdu to Guangdong
60 Books read this year (possibly more though… I’ve lost track)
65 Ounces of peanut butter consumed
77 New Facebook friends
80 Minutes from UST to Central via bus and subway
90 Minute lectures (urgh)
100 Questions about my tattoo
108 Beads on a Tibetan Prayer Bead Bracelet
600 Hours spent working at Consulate Chengdu (at least)
3,000 Word essay written with Kevin on the TPP
5,000 Dollar scholarship from IAP to make this possible
5,400 Blog views in the past few years
7,000 Dollars in loans from my parents
7,691 Miles from home
10,000 Noodles eaten (at least)
12,136 Feet above sea level, the highest I’ve ever been
7,000,000 People living in Hong Kong
1,300,000,000 People living in China

5 Hours spent thinking about this post
4 Final exams
3 Goodbye parties I hope to attend
2 Weeks before I leave
1 Year abroad
0 Regrets