Hello! It’s been a minute since I’ve done a takeover, but as I settle back into my routine at home, I realize that just a month ago I was living in Seoul, meeting new people, and exploring the city. I have found myself trying to gain a sense of reality that the life I had there existed and wasn’t some strange dream. Since being back in LA, I recognize that the person I was when I left is not necessarily the same person now. For this week’s blog join me as I reflect on my semester abroad and what I look forward to in my last year of undergrad.
The last time I wrote a guest blog, I promised to be back the next month with another blog, but as June approached and finals season picked up, I found myself struggling to balance school and the little time I had left with my friends and Seoul. My last month abroad was definitely the most bittersweet as I was not only wrapping up my junior year, but I also was closing a chapter that I felt was just beginning. I remember in one of my last days in my apartment I sat looking at all the photos I had taken during my time in Seoul and thinking how crazy it was that in just a few short months I matured so much.
Looking at photos from my first week in Seoul, I realized I was a hot mess, too scared to even venture outside. But there I was just 4 months later, totally comfortable navigating the city alone and even able to fend for myself in a way I never had to. Being 100% on my own was so new for me as I have always had my whole family so close to me to depend on and now I was suddenly all alone. One of the first lessons I learned was how to advocate for myself, as I was now in control of every aspect of my life.
As embarrassing as it is to admit, prior to going to Korea I really struggled with “adulting”. I mean this in the sense that I felt nervous speaking on my behalf in normal adult situations, e.g. making my own doctor appointments, talking to my school’s administration, placing food orders, etc. While having a job and constantly interacting with people helped with this, I found that managing every aspect of my life in Korea is where I was really forced to address my anxiety head on. I no longer had the option to turn to my family to take care of things for me so I had to work through issues on my own. The more I had to do this, I was able to recognize that the anxiety that accompanied these situations was something that I was capable of overcoming.
Another aspect that I feel some growth in is finding some direction in what I want for my life. While perhaps my academic goals haven’t necessarily changed, I believe that my personal goals have. As much as I loved studying abroad and living alone, I also am much more aware of how much I need to be near my family. Before leaving when people asked me, “do you see yourself living in Korea again?” my reply would be “ Probably” or “ I don’t know, but I’m gonna find out”. Now I say, “Yes, but only if my family is near me”. I am now of the belief that I could probably live anywhere, but I need my mom and sister with me. The only reason why I was okay with being by myself is because I knew I was coming back in four months. So now one of my new goals is to live wherever my mom is, because her and May are my besties and I cannot live without them around me lol.
I have also realized that I enjoy living in a true city environment. Seoul is a very bustling city and while my neighborhood was very quiet, just a 15 minute bus ride away was Hongdae and Sinchon. Both cities are very bustling and chaotic (in a good way). I have never been so integrated into a city like I was in Seoul, and although I live in LA, I have always lived in the outlying “suburbs” and not in the heart of the city. So I guess I can do the city girl life or the suburb gal life.
Overall I feel like I’ve grown up during my time in Korea. While at times I felt lost in my journey and wanting to be home, I wouldn’t change any of it. I met some truly extraordinary people that I can honestly say I see as my family, and if I hadn’t gone to Korea, I would not have otherwise ever met. I miss all my friends so much and they have my infinite gratitude for being a part of my journey. In such a short amount of time together, we went through ups and downs but came out together as better versions of ourselves.
Going from one day being unable to legally drink alcohol to the next day being in a country where it’s legal, turning 21, and realizing that I graduate in less than a year, symbolizing to me that I really am at the end of my “childhood” and am becoming a full-fledged adult. I am so grateful for my time in Korea as it has prepared me for my last leg of my journey at LMU, and at least in the moment is helping me feel confident about figuring out my post-graduate life. As cheesy as it is to admit, studying abroad does change life and perspective. Whether that be good or bad, the experience provides some sort of insight and I am so glad that I not only had the opportunity to do it, but took advantage of it.
With school now starting in less than 2 weeks, I feel nervous but excited for my last year of undergrad. It doesn’t feel real that I am already a senior in college, but I am ready for the challenge. I’m excited to be back and reconnect with everyone I haven’t seen as well as getting to be back on my beautiful campus again. I am just so happy that together with my mom and May, we were able to pull off the chance for me to pursue higher education and I can’t wait to get to the finish line together. My college education has meant so much to me and I hope to finish strong. Thank you for tuning in, happy new school year to all, and congrats to my fellow class of ‘24 for making it here!