01/18/19. 21:08. P9
/I Don’t Have Time, Yet All I Have is Time/
/Category: Professionalism/Work Ethic/
/Guide Question: Studying abroad can bring huge upheavals in our day-to-day routines. How do you stay on time and focused while abroad? Do you get to class on time, deliver work when requested, and contribute meaningfully to your group?/
Looking from the outside, my day-to-day in Korea is not that different from my life in America. My life is just as busy. If anything, I’ve become happier. I wake up happy, and I sleep happy. Some people might assume that this happiness is because “studying abroad” means 80% playing and traveling, and 20% studying. This may certainly be the case for some people, but I think this is not true for me.
I’ve always enjoyed studying and learning that my work ethic with regards to school is not a problem at all. I don’t particularly enjoy clubbing and like keeping my own 2:8 ratio between going out and doing things I like, which lately, includes a combination of these activities: taking classes and consequently, studying for those subjects, studying for the CPA exam, studying Korean, French, or Japanese, reading books, working out, writing this blog, house chores, watching movies or dramas, or shopping. At the same time, this winter break, I enrolled myself in Korean classes, and have been also busy preparing for my participation as a volunteer traveler for theReach the World program for their Winter 2019 cycle. Through this program, I will be sharing my journey online with K-12 students in the US through several blog posts and weekly video conferences.
As you can see, you can barely consider my study abroad life as “all play.” I’m just as busy as I left the US, I do my best no matter what, and I strive to keep improving. However, whether it be in the US or Korea, I’m struggling just as much to be on time for class. That much hasn’t changed. :)) It’s just that it’s so hard to get up in the morning even if I sleep early. The Korean school system is actually curbing that bad habit because attendance counts towards our final grade. Slowly, I’ve been trying to change.
One change from my life in America is that I live alone now, and my family is far away from me. My mom usually cooks for us so there is always food on the table. But this isn’t a huge issue because food is so cheap and easy to procure with Korea’s delivery system. Seoul’s efficient transportation system also made my life easier because there are so many fun things to see and do that are within reach. Contradictory to most of the US, living a good life without a car and the accompanying expenses of owning one is completely possible here in Seoul.
Perhaps the hardest change was to spend the holidays without family. This year, I missed our Christmas tree lighting “ceremony”, gift-giving “ceremony”, and I missed our yearly Mahjong tournament. I called my family during the Christmas and New Year of course. I am sad because I am not with them, but at the same time, I’m not… How should I say it? Completely sad? Sorrowful? Depressed? I felt sad but I was completely okay with it. Don’t think that it’s because I don’t consider family important, but this is because of the way I think about time.
Of all the things I’ve learned while in Korea, the most meaningful and life-changing lesson I have learned is how I value time. It could probably because I am getting older, or that my dream of living in Korea is temporary, but lately, my sadness comes from the thought that time is slowly running out and there is still so much I want to do. I feel a sense of urgency to do as much as I can and spend more time with friends while I am in Korea. I want to spend the rest of my life here. It even goes beyond Korea to life in general; I want to learn so much things, read so many books, learn more languages, watch so many movies and shows.
It is with this thought that the saying “nothing really lasts forever” becomes more pronounced. In the past, I have always tried to make the most of my time. Every Christmas I spent with my family, I always thought that it might be the last and so, I tried to remember that moment as much as I can. As a result, during my first Christmas without them, I felt a bit more ready, if you will. But lately, more than usual, I’ve been making the most of each day. At the same time, I know I cannot do everything I want and so I choose. When I wake up, I think “what do I prioritize today that can make my day feel fulfilled?” This can be as simple as “oh, if I can finish that one chapter of my book, my day is complete,” “if I can work out today, the day is a success.”
As a result of this thinking, even though later, I know it will break my heart when I leave Korea, I will be okay going back to America for a while because I know I have a goal that I am working towards. Perhaps more importantly, because I surely know that I will not stay in America forever, I trust that while I am there, I will be making the most of my time, and appreciating it more than when I first arrived 8 years ago.
The highlight of my Christmas this year was instead the Seoul Lantern Festival at Cheonggyecheon! It was so beautiful!