This will be the final post on my recent trip to South Korea. It is being written from across the Pacific ocean in San Diego city, California. In this post I will consolidate the lessons learned from Korea, reflect on some fond memories, and discuss my plans for the future/post graduation.
So let’s get started!
Always be on time.
- Aside from being important in the workforce and for my Korean class, I relearned this lesson after missing my flight back to the US. Needless to say, I will be improving on my timeliness both in and outside of the airport.
It’s okay to take your time.
- I learned this lesson when learning Korean. I became frustrated and discouraged at numerous points along my language journey because I wasn’t able to express myself adequately to native Korean speakers. It is very frustrating not being understood when you want to be and your are giving a hard effort to get your point across. However, when learning language, going back to the drawing board-your study desk in this case- and patiently reviewing the foundations of the language does more good than pouting with self-doubt.
Have fun while you can, after your work is finished.
- For 4 months I had 3 jobs, one intensive class, and a steep learning curve for the culture/ins and outs of a new country. Needless to say, it was stressful effectively balancing these three components of my life and I stumbled at several points. However, when I had free time I made sure to have fun by making time for myself and friends. This served as an indispensable source of stress relief amidst the business and unfamiliarity of my life as a student in Seoul.
It’s okay to say no.
Due to the drinking culture in Korea, most of the social groups that I was a apart of held regular events with social drinking involved. Now these events almost always cost money, take place in the evening time and involve other people telling you how much to drink. I don’t drink, had homework, had 3 jobs, and wanted to make time for dance and personal growth amidst everything else. Where my aspirations and obligations ran contrary to my presence at social events, I said no. Sometimes it was easy, other times invitations were given in a more aggressive manner, however I remembered why I came and stayed focused. This isn’t to say that I never went out, I just made sure to have fun with the purpose of relieving stress but not relieving myself of the responsibility of keeping my own goals in mind. I think any student abroad will have many opportunities to experience new things, and this is great. However, it is when these new experiences begin to conflict with past commitments and resolutions that one needs to ask oneself “Why did I come here?”, “Can I complete this activity while being able to complete the goals I have already committed to?” and “Is this good for me?”
Keep on dreaming!/Keep your dreams alive!
While abroad, I was flooded with tons of new information, obligations, ideas, opportunities and stresses. So much so that it was quite easy to lose myself amidst the flood of possibilities. This is where dreams and a firm resolve to realize them become important. Whenever I had more free time than I knew what to do with or more stresses/obligations than I knew to handle, I made sure to calmly reflect on that which I wanted to do most and prioritized my efforts from there. Sometimes this meant that one homework assignment out of five was not completed, because it wasn’t graded- better believe everything else was finished- sometimes this meant that I was 5 minutes late for work BECAUSE I was finishing an important project- better believe prior notice was given to my employer- and many times this meant late nights so that I could fit my work, school work, and play all fit into one day. Needless to say, the prospect of accomplishing my own goals, set years before my arrival to Korea, fueled me throughout most of my trip(Just being in a foreign country can be VERY tiring, especially when coupled with your own aspirations and obligations)
This one seems to run contrary with the former, however the two are complimentary!
The Homework Never Ends. (And you’re not the only on who has to do it.)
I had a dream – go to Korea- and realized it. Now what? Learn Korean language? Apply for a job, scholarship, or fellowship in Korea? These are all options on my plate of opportunity, and I will probably make efforts toward each one. Regardless, these all require work, research, recommendation letters and, most important of all, effort. Before returning to Korea I resolved to not become lazy or complacent with mediocrity/conformity. This relates primarily toward my language learning and breakdancing. Though I am in the US, where there aren’t as many native speakers around to practice with, I still need to hold myself accountable for learning/practicing my Korean skills. Because WHEN I return, for whatever purpose, I will certainly benefit from knowing more through Korean than I do now.
Mentors, Friends and Family are indispensable when abroad.
At many points of my recent trip I was almost absolutely out of money, lost in an unfamiliar place(without wi-fi directly accessible), and just feeling overwhelmed by loneliness or stress. During these times, I reached out to friends, family and mentors for connection, relief, and guidance. These people helped me out when no one else could or would, and that’s what made them indispensable to me. I believe that any individual who goes to an unfamiliar place would benefit from a support network, especially if they can call on them at any time.
(Aspire to hold onto as many of these as you can because these people, if they are good, will help you when no else can or when no one else is willing)
Shoutout to Mom, Dad, 아야카, 민하, Jessica/재시카, 강수 에린, 보민, Gloria, Mate Institute, Nopi Study, KSU DVGA, Anna F., 예지, 유진, 지원, 지선, 지은, Martial, Meelis, 강 선생님, 배 선생님, Patrick, Nicole, Gil, Dr. Askildson, Michele Miller, Nadine, Sumi Moon, JoonSu, MyungJu, Sarome, KSU Korean class classmates, Kyungmee, BIP program 2013, Dr. Lee, KSU Asian Studies program, ASSO, KSU Korean Language Club, KSU breakdance Club, Hanyang University, Angela Kim, Rick Punt, KSU global learning Scholarship, HOPE scholarship, Hanyang Housing Scholarship, and everyone else who had a hand in keeping my dream of going to Korea alive.!
Here is a sneak-peek into my to-do list for the foreseeable future. Similar to my dream of going to Korea, conceived years ago, I fully intend on making each of these aspirations a reality.
Graduation from KSU
Complete applications for going abroad again to continue intensive study of the Korean language.
Pursue Master’s in Urban Planning – Specialization in Transportation or housing
Keep on dancing! (Learn airflare)
Help other people in a manner that is sustainable to my circumstances!
Maintain the important connections that I have made.
Maintain an open mind in that sense that I allow new ideas to be heard, allow for the acceptance/introduction of newer -sometimes better- concepts into my life.
Do my best, always. (Rest well, Work well, Play well, Communicate well, Live well)
Stay true to my word by making good on as many promises as I am able!
And now to end this post, here are some photos from my time in San Diego, California.