“…Taste Experience to the Utmost…”

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”  Eleanor Roosevelt 

As I start to pack up the remaining things, I can’t help but recall the flashbacks of how my first day in South Korea led up to my farewell today.

For the past two years in a foreign country, thousand of miles away from my family, friends, and comfort zone, I’ve learned so much more than I could possibly fathom.

Within two years:

  • I’ve had my fair share of Korean side dishes, kimchi, and pickled radish
  • I’ve survived the first month in Korea without a cell phone, and getting lost for three hours on an unknown bus in an unknown city.
  • I’ve traveled to all of the hot spots, cities where CNN recommended visiting in South Korea…

After the thrill and excitement:

  • I’ve learned how to read, could speak the KOREAN SURVIVAL PHRASES, and could almost watch a Korean drama without subtitles.
  • I’ve experienced a cultural shock due to the language barriers and cultural differences.
  • I’ve experienced extreme loneliness, vulnerability, and homesickness especially during the holidays.

Overall, the rich cultural experience provided me with the opportunity to learn a bit more about the country’s history, the language and the cultural lifestyle; beneath the surface understanding of the Korean culture, I’ve discovered the important factors for living in an unknown country.

You could have a taste of the country’s special dishes, enjoy the music and pop culture, speak the language almost fluently… Yet, I believe the best way to adapt to a foreign country is having an open mind and heart to receive the love- despite the cultural differences. After settling down in Korea for two years, I’ve found myself anchored to my “second home.”

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This attachment solely comes from the small daily morning talks with my fellow students, the baker in the neighborhood, the laughter I’ve shared with my co workers, and friends over the past or future talks. Although the moments may seem very momentary, it still captured a positive, everlasting effect on me.

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As bittersweet as I am about leaving a place that is now home to me, I feel immensely grateful to God for the wide range of experiences I’ve come to build up in my memory at this point in time. From the meaningful encounters I’ve had with each person along the same path, the profound moments allowed me to be inspired, and to never cease to reach further for my dreams.

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Thank you dearest friends and students in Korea for giving me the experience to taste life to the fullest- without any fear nor hesitations. Most importantly, despite our cultural differences, thank YOU for allowing me to love and to receive love.

사랑해요!!!

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 With love and smiles,

Ai

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