Orientation and First Weeks
To be extremely transparent, the first week of arriving was very hard. This is most likely due to me being the youngest of my family, but also my own personality of needing to be perfect and fearing mistakes, but the idea of speaking English and seeming foreign, but also being too afraid to use my Korean, really made it difficult for me to do anything. I didn't want to purchase a transit card because it meant talking to someone which meant I couldn't ride any buses or subways so I couldn't go to many places.
Slowly I felt a little bit better, but still intimidated but got what I needed to do done and I am thankful that I came to Korea a week before orientation to get to a more comfortable position by the time school started. Orientation and the first week of classes were nice because in these classes and rooms, I knew that the people around me were all in the same position as me, while the professors were aware that most of us spoke varying levels of Korean and were all adjusting to many different things all at once.
Day to Day
It's funny, but day to day life really was not much different than my day-to-day life in Canada and back at SFU. Aside from the added responsibilities of ensuring I have food and the things I need for survival; most days were filled with attending classes and meeting up with friends to explore various parts of Korea, visit cute cafes, or simply wandering aimlessly!
Some parts of the day-to-day life began to feel mundane and similar to life back at home, but the other aspects are what gave the sense of unfamiliarity such as needing a translator to communicate with someone, or to know what to order at a restaurant - for some this could not be nerve-racking or intimidating, and for some it can be, so I think it is a matter of personality. But I can say with confidence that the day-to-day life was definitely much easier than the feelings of worry and fear of the first few weeks of arriving.
It is really difficult to encompass in words how this experience has changed and shaped me as a person simply due to how much it has. Going into this experience I was extremely afraid and nervous because I have never done something like this before. Thankfully with the support of friends and family I knew that I had to take on this challenge because I could not foresee the future and whether I would get such an amazing opportunity again. I am so so so incredibly thankful I listened and took on this challenge and experience because there are just so many things to be thankful for. The journey of growth has impacted me in ways I had not even thought of being impacted - from small aspects such as learning how to live on my own, to gaining new outlooks on life, people, and myself.
While sometimes I feel as though I am taking 2 steps forward and 1 step back, I know that if I hadn't had this opportunity, I would not be taking any steps at all. When looking back on the experience it's hard not to smile because even through the bad experiences, I think to myself "wow, you did it... you went through that experience and you made it!" because each experience shapes us in terms of learning what we dislike, how we can react, how we can understand the differences, and really having a deeper insight and understanding of the situation.
While I still have one more semester in Korea, I am sitting here writing this thinking about my return to Canada and already feeling as though I miss it here. But I still have much more I want to do, see, learn, and experience alongside my own personal growth and development as a person and a professional so good luck to future me.
할 수 있어!!