Me first because I matter






Throughout my stay in South Korea, one of the most difficult things about studying abroad is time management. Since my home university was in a rural town, I was unaware of city life and how it could impact my lifestyle. Despite being a pro planner, I was overwhelmed with trying to balance my rigorous classes with city life. It was during my 3rd week of studying at Korea University that I experienced a mental breakdown from stress and not being able to manage my time. I eventually had to start saying “no” to friend group gatherings and other activities to plan time to study. The change of environment and the mindset of being in another country made it hard to focus on my studies. I had to learn to discipline myself when to study and when to have fun. The most difficult part of learning to discipline me was not letting others influence me. As it is often difficult to reject friends, my decision made during those weeks caused some friendship problems. While most of my friends were business majors and did not have difficult classes, I was a STEM major with an international relation minor and coursework were heavy and difficult. I often had heavy textbook readings along with heavy essay assignments due. There was just a lot on my plate and I could not figure out what was more important and what was not.

During my midterm weeks, I started prioritizing myself first and no one else. I changed my routine and schedule to focus on my education as I had a responsibility to be a good role model. In those weeks, I had to admit that my decision did make me lose some friends, but truth was, I did not lose anyone. The people who I thought were my friends ended not being the most supportive people but instead people who held me back. I had to learn to let them go in order for me to focus on my life. It was a very difficult decision to make, but to me, it was worth it. The most important lesson I learned from my decisions was that no matter how many good memories you have made with someone if they don’t respect your decision then they were never the right person for you in the first place. Prioritizing yourself was also another important life lesson I learned. The importance of putting yourself first taught me how to cherish my imperfections and appreciate the little things about me. I started to see my talents instead of criticizing myself for not being enough. Other people’s words to me did not matter anymore because once I started thinking for myself and cherishing myself, I realized the only thing that mattered was how I saw myself.