Tamaqua. That's "Ta-mah-kwa" to anyone who lives outside the Coal Region of Pennsylvania. The better part of my life was spent growing up in this small town of 7,000, where I attended a high school with 700 other young people and graduated from a class of close to 120. I can still name almost all the students in my class from senior year.

Like any small, rural town in America, things moved a little slower. Life was simple, quiet and at times downright boring, but I was glad to have come from such a small, close knit community enjoying the "Small-town Life".

In 2005, I began four years of education at Penn State University, commencing my "College Life". Classes grew to include over 300 people in lecture halls and the shear volume of students (40,000 on a good year) threatened to swallow me whole as an individual, but I adapted, forming a small group of friends and finding my place among the blue and white masses. Those years were a roller coaster of a ride, with ups, downs and unexpected twists. I almost was jettisoned out of my seat a few times, but held on and enjoyed the ride. Only a handful of times (after turning 21) did the loops and G-forces of college life make me lose my stomach.

And like any roller coaster, the ride was over before I could blink. The seat harness lifted and I got off the ride and was handed a diploma, quickly being ushered off the stage so another thousand students behind me could receive their certificates of graduation as well. Honestly, I was ready for it - the anticipation surrounding the internship in China making the transition from student to alumni more bearable.

Two months of living the "Unpaid Life" of an intern would leave me hanging in limbo, as I wasn't sure if I'd be staying in China to pursue a career or heading home. Then a phone call from Beijing Review changed everything and I knew my stay in China would be for longer than one month.

Yet, securing a job was not enough to truly begin the next phase in my life.  My local friends insisted this would not happen until today, when I moved into my new apartment. Until today, I'd stayed in a hotel for one month followed by another month in a temporary apartment. While both places were comfortable, neither made me feel like I was living in Beijing. I was a tourist on an extensive stay of two months.

Now, with apartment key in hand, I can start that new life - my Beijing Life. I can tell all my friends that I actually live in China and under the "Current City" on Facebook I can proudly display Beijing. Now all I have to do is wait for the social networking site to be unblocked.
Aaron Bonner
8/7/2009 02:07:23 am

All sounds good btay. Keep up the blogging to update the rest of T-a-m-a-q-u-a.

Stacey Federoff
9/6/2009 02:27:10 pm

Btay! I am SO bummed that I missed you in the Collegian office last week. It sounds like you are loving it in Beijing and I can't blame you. Have a great time! (Maybe someday we'll have a copy desk reunion there!)

All my best!


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