Help Tom Ship a Suitcase(s) and Fund Grad School

It seems that the majority of humans struggled throughout 2020.  Whether it was mentally, physically, emotionally, financially or all of the above-- I assure you that I was no exception.  But let's put a pin in that for a quick second and rewind back to 2019....

On  December 31st, 2018 my 17 + hour flight from St. Louis Missouri touched down in Shanghai on January 1st, 2019.  I carried two massive suitcases containing all of my clothes, electronics, and my favorite acoustic guitar.  After retrieving my luggage, I took a 4.5 hour car ride west from Shanghai to Yangzhou, Jiangsu province.   I didn't speak a lick of Mandarin.  I didn't know a soul in the country.  Yangzhou is a D3 city (very small - no subway, few expats, even fewer English speaking locals).  I felt like a fish out of water for several weeks.  I gradually became more comfortable as I started teaching my ESL job.  The other expats that I befriended quickly turned into my family.   I met people from all over the world-- Canada, Africa, UK, Wales, Australia, India, Russia. I enjoyed my community of friends so much that in Oct 2019 I extended my contract to November 2020.  Little did I know.....

At the end of January, I took a two week vacation to Europe  with my former roommate and a couple other friends .  We packed light because we booked BnB's with washers and dryers.  We were in Paris when we began to realize that going back to China on our booked return flight was not an option.  Wuhan is in a neighboring province of Yangzhou.  In China, roads were blocked, public transportation was shut down, and flights were being canceled.  In fact, I remember the company I worked for advising us to stay in Europe until further notice.  My wallet soon started to feel the affects of an extended stay so I had no other option but to return to St. Louis MO.  I arrived near the beginning of February safely with the intentions of returning  to China.  But (trying not to get political here) the virus kept getting worse in the US...

I lost my job in China (very well paying job--payed my US bills, china living expenses, and some left over for traveling) I lost my expat family.  My former flat mate and I grew very close.  I consider him a little brother to me.  I haven't seen him in over a year now..
I lost all of my things.   All of my clothes, laptop, ipad, two guitars (one electric one acoustic), guitar pedals, a condenser microphone, my original undergrad diploma, a terabyte hard drive, books, journals.  The lose of income, friendship, belongings, combined with the abrupt unexpected lifestyle change from China to St. Charles, MO suburbia really took a toll on me mentally.  
 The silver lining in this story is that I applied and was accepted into Utrecht University in the Netherlands for Fall 2021.  I will be doing a 2-year research graduates degree in Musicology.  I intend to continue onwards to pursue a PhD.  

Shipping my belongings back to me will be expensive.  I heard that it is around $500 USD for one suitcase.  Shipping companies will charge me by weight, so it's difficult to say for sure how much it will be.  
Utrecht University does not have any student housing accommodation.  Utrecht is a massive college city and rent is not cheap.   I am keeping my eyes peeled for scholarships and I have filled out a FASA for loans and grants.  I'll estimate my expenses as the following:

Shipping a suitcase from China to US : $500
Shipping 2 guitars from China to US: $500
1-months rent/deposit in Utrecht: $800-$1200
1 way plane ticket to Netherlands: $500
I will need these funds by August 2021.  

Thank you
Regardless if you are able to contribute -- if you made it this far in my story, then I just want to thank you for reading it.  I am well aware that 2020 has been difficult for most of us and I am fighting like hell to make amends.  Every cent that I earn from the four jobs that I am currently working is being saved or paying a bill.  Your contribution will help return my belongs to me and help fund my pursuit for high education.  Any amount helps! Thank you.  

TLDR: Everything I own is in china, and I need help funding grad school.


  • Jacob Braymiller 
    • $25 
    • 5 d
  • Anonymous 
    • $250 
    • 6 d
  • Anonymous 
    • $200 
    • 9 d
  • Janice Wardle 
    • $70 
    • 9 d
  • Mary Watkins 
    • $100 
    • 10 d
See all


Tom Watkins 
Saint Charles, MO
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