I say I’m not sentimental, but deep down inside, there’s a growing sentimental seed. For example, five months ago today (12.3.2012), I left Lexington, KY to begin my Fulbright grant to teach English in South Korea. I was going to a place I knew little to nothing about. I had no idea what I was doing and somewhere over Nome, Alaska, when turbulence had rattled me awake, I was starting to regret my decision.
The regret didn’t last very long. These five months have been an immense blessing. For example:
- If I say this once, I’ll say it again: I’ve learned mercy and compassion. Something I lacked in the States. I wasn’t a total barbarian, but I could stand to have a bit more mercy.
- I’ve learned to take (responsible) risks. For example, I decided to postpone graduate school in favor of teaching for a year. This is huge, as I left Kentucky thinking that at this moment, I’d be in the thick of graduate school applications.
- Language is important, but it’s not everything. You can communicate with gestures and broken Korean and get what you want. Not that I’d know (insert sarcastic groan here).
- Small things matter. I think one of my simple pleasures here in Korea is the flatcinno, which is essentially a lighter, creamier version of a smoothie. I would not usually indulge in flatcinno in the States, but I’m in Korea.
- I’ve learned that we’re all the essentially the same. Not to discount the precious virtue of diversity, but I used to think that those outside of the States lived overly-significant, overly-magnificent, glamorous lives. Not true. Even 8,000 miles away, we all live daily, regular lives.
- Travel makes you a better person. You don’t have to go far to see the world. You don’t even have to leave your home county to travel. Getting out to see the world, no matter how short the distance, makes you a better person.
- Living abroad make you realize what you are truly capable of apart from your parents. For me, booking international airplane tickets or going to the dentist alone (in a foreign country!) is a big step for me. We all have our steps; some bigger than others.
- I’m making more reasonable goals. In high school and college, I wanted to make a HUGE difference in the world. Now, I’ve realized it’s the small differences that matter.
- Bus rides are the best thing ever.
Welcome to the beginning of Month 6.