Lost Girl of the Week: Cecilia (Cici) Haynes

Lost Girl of the Week — By on November 30, 2011 at 7:44 am

This week’s Lost Girl, Cici Haynes, graduated from the University of Virginia last year, and currently lives in Lhasa, Tibet. She is a third culture kid (TCK) who was born in Hong Kong and has lived in Calcutta, Taiwan, Beijing, New Delhi, the U.S., Chennai, and Manila. Soon after graduating, she moved to Hong Kong and taught English at a center for a year. She later went back to India, did the Golden Triangle before heading to Dharamsala for a couple of months. She currently supports herself by writing English curriculum that is taught in the Hong Kong center she used to work for. Read more about Cici’s adventures on her blog, www.ceciliahaynes.com.


Travel is all I have ever known and all I really want out of life. I spoke my first words in Taiwan, learned to ride a bike in New Delhi, had my first kiss in Chennai, and graduated high school in Manila. I have fallen off of a camel in Rajastan, a horse in Virginia, but thankfully never an elephant. Growing up as a third culture kid, I have always been lost and I haven’t yet wanted to be found. Ever since I can remember, I have never had the desire to live a quiet suburban life. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said a veterinarian/explorer. I soon realized the veterinary tract was not the one for me since I am a little squeamish, but I never relinquished my other dream.

After graduating from high school, I went to UVA and after a year of indecision, finally settled on Foreign Affairs as a major. No matter what people say, no one actually means, “Pursue your dream!” What they actually mean is, “Be practical and choose a major that is the most likely to get you a job.” My dad worked for the U.S. State Department and most people figured I would go his route, especially when they learned about my major. In actuality, I honestly couldn’t think of anything else to major in. Plus, I thought that some of the classes sounded interesting, so I thought, “Why not?” What I wish I had known then is that most of the courses dealt with theories on war; specifically predicting war. Since I made my bed, I lay in it and finished up my degree.

Throughout this period, I had a good friend who used to sit me down and ask me what I wanted for my future. We basically wrote life plans and timelines that I was supposed to follow. But they never worked partly because I kept repeating this vague aspiration that I wanted to be able to travel and work at the same time. I did not have a field or a profession that I was drawn to, I just wanted to keep seeing the world. I assumed that I would find a corporate job that would pay me plenty of money and also send me to exotic destinations.

While I thought about travel writing and professional travel photography, most information on these professions tends to be pessimistic. They are spoken of in the same vein as stardom, i.e. that it very, very rarely happens to anyone. By the time I graduated from UVA, I thought I might as well take the leap. Even if I never make it as a professional writer/photographer, at least I tried. The first thing I did was get an internship with a wedding photographer. This gave me the training and practice I needed to start on my dream. Then I decided to move with my boyfriend to Hong Kong. He is a PhD student and got a job at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in order to fund his research. Since I have a Hong Kong permanent ID card, I sprang at the opportunity to live abroad again.

Even though I originally wanted a job as a writer/photographer, I eventually found one as an English instructor at a local education center, http://storyjungleblog.blogspot.com/. I know that right now the job market looks bleak and college graduates are apprehensive about finding employment, but that costly education is extremely important. Even though I didn’t have any teaching experience or any sort of degree associated with education, the fact that I attended UVA and interviewed well got me a job. While I do not want a career in teaching, this experience allowed me to save up money and to form strong ties with my boss. This in turn gave me the opportunity to continue my goal of traveling the world. Because of the money I made, I had enough of a savings to cushion the price of plane tickets and hotels. Because of the connection I made with my boss, she offered me a freelance job creating lessons for her center. With this support I have gone around India, visited Hong Kong again, and traveled to Lhasa. I will continue to make my way around these areas for the next six months. After that, I have decided to move to Turkey for a year in order to experience something completely different.

While I am definitely not rich, I am certainly not broke either. Everyone has their choice about what to spend their money on. Some choose a down payment for a house, others a car. I choose travel.

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