The 35 Dollar Lemon Tea《三十五塊的檸檬茶》
The stubbornness of wanting to become more than I could ever be has led me on my journey to study abroad in Australia. We always had a thirst to be different, but our desires always come at an expensive cost. 家，一直都會在的。家，一直會留在那一盒三十五塊的檸檬茶裏。
Studying abroad has always been seen as a privilege. Being exposed to Western culture promised more opportunities, more resources, and more experiences. The stubbornness of wanting to become more than I could ever be has led me on my journey to study abroad in Australia. We always had a thirst to be different, but our desires always come at an expensive cost.
People always talk about the American dream: regardless of race and class differences, through hard work and sacrifice, you will be able to achieve success. Being able to bear the expense of a one-way ticket to Australia, just to have a glimpse of western education, is a luxury few could afford to complain about. The freedom of choice that it comes with is something most people would only dream to taste. If you dared to weep, or to complain, it’s all due to ungratefulness and greed. What about those you left behind? What about them? But I guess no one cared enough to ask, what about me?
If the idea of home could be personified, it would be encapsulated in a box of Vita Lemon Tea. I reminisce on the days of my childhood — when a box of lemon tea just cost 5 dollars, when happiness could be bought with a mere coin.
Sometimes, studying abroad feels like taking a sip of lemon tea. At times, you can feel the sweetness. Just like when you were finally given the permission to peek through the gaps of the undiscovered side of the world, the feeling of being able to mark the beginnings of your long-awaited dreams, and even just the silly spontaneous bubble tea trips with your chosen family. The sugar in the tea is like sparkly stars on gloomy nights, blooming into your loneliest hours. It’s all you need to realise that even in the darkest skies, there was never an absence of light. The lemon flavour of the tea always brings in a hint of sourness. Just like the moments of family reunions and home-cooked dinners, but never once being invited to the table. The taste of bitterness is also very strong in the tea; it represents the unbearable emotional stress you face alone, the effort spent trying to fit into a social circle to which you never truly belonged, and the identity you carry as a woman of colour drowning in a sea of discrimination. The countless nights of falling asleep in tear-stained pillows, staring at those swollen eyes through the mirror the next morning, wondering, what if all of this was never worth it?
I remember walking into the nearest Australian Asian supermarket and picking up an overpriced 35-dollar box of Vita Lemon Tea, wishing that I did not need to fight my battles alone. I took a sip of tea. I realised it wasn’t sweet or sour, nor was it bitter. It was the taste of comfort. It was a taste of home.
When you live abroad, sometimes life pressures you to put on a brave face, but home will always be around. Home, will always be that 35 dollar box of lemon tea.