The Dot.

I vividly recalled that hot summer day from 4 years ago. I laid on the carpet floor as the ceiling fan rhythmically ran with this immense hallow feeling of nothingness. I completed my undergrad at the time and my parents were proud; extended families congratulated me and asked whether I was excited or not. No. I only felt one thing- lost. I did not know what I wanted to achieve at that time, I had no goals nor passion. I simply felt like I was this small dot in the big galaxy- simply invisible.

I applied for so many job positions and graduate school at the time. I was willing to do free internships, drove distances to volunteer, network, go overseas, I was desperate and yearned for something that was unknown at the time. Letter of rejections repeatedly came as my self-esteem slowly diminished over time. Throughout the hopelessness and disappointments, I held strong to my faith. I fervently prayed for a door to open as each door closed. Sure enough, the door opened when I least expected it. I was wide awake at 3:30 am when I received mail in my inbox. I opened it without any expectations. The mail was sent by a recruiter from England stating a request for a prospective job interview. The process was vigorous, but the recruiter helped me along every step of the way. In the end, I made it and ended up living in Korea for two years.

The journey was frightening yet exhilarating. Through my journey abroad, my passion and mission in life unraveled. It led me to the field that I am now currently in: international development and service. From that experience, it offered me the opportunity to work in New York, go to Italy to learn about the education system in Europe, and humbly lived in a developing country. I was exposed to so many things I’ve never expected to occur in my life, things that I only saw in movies and books. I encountered inspiring mentors, professors, and staff who truly cared for my well-being and success. I made friends who I could truly connect and learn from, and I felt extremely grateful to God for these memories that I will always relish and keep close to heart. I felt a surmount of emotions. I laughed, I cried, I was angry, and I was humbled. I thought I was grateful but it wasn’t until I lived abroad that I really understood the true meaning of being grateful.

My three years of living abroad was nothing but valuable, and those experiences are the things I’ll continuously relish in every moment of my life. I probably won’t be able to travel abroad anytime soon, but my journey doesn’t end there. Rather, it begins here. It is the last semester and I have two months remaining until I graduate and officially go out in the real world. People say it’s exciting but it’s equally frightening as well. As I toss and turn in bed with my unease mind of what’s next, I am thankful for two things: passion and mission. My passion lies in international education and my mission is to promote those experiences through my story and works.

People say that with great passion comes immense hardships, and that is true. Times are getting harder now. Students are traveling to boost their future job prospects, accumulating debt to get their degree, but the outcome is not always as planned. There is a high demand in career expectations, graduate and loan rates are increasing, but job opportunities are limited.

…The debate presents difficult questions for young people, who face the most difficult economy since the Great Depression. Many have decided to go to graduate school, to wait out the storm. Several commenters on our forums even said they had no choice but to seek a master’s degree (and incur more debt), arguing that a B.A. today is the equivalent of having a high school diploma 20 years ago and more employers require a higher degree… Now the economy makes matters worse. Only 19 percent of the class of 2009 had jobs at graduation. Furthermore, many recent graduates who are young professionals and had been working for a few years have been fired. They find themselves surfing the web looking for jobs, all while worrying about health benefits and repaying their student loans.” Room for Debate

Speaking as a millennial, it’s hard not to feel disheartened at times. You’re constantly faced with what’s next in life. You wonder to yourself how you could go about doing something you are passionate about yet still maintain a steady income. Whether told or not, people are faced with these questions daily. Life isn’t perfect, so there are times where one must make a sacrifice. According to a book, There Is Life After College, a survey was conducted where students in their twenty’s considered them as sprinters, wanderers, or stragglers before their transition into college (HBR). I considered myself as a wanderer who took my time before I got started in my professional work.

With two months remaining until I graduate and go out in the real world, I am faced with one question, “What’s next.” My answer is, it won’t be a smooth road, but I’m going to follow my passion and mission. Although I may still be the same dot in this big galaxy from four years ago, but this time the dot isn’t invisible. No, it’ll be a bright one among the galaxy, so don’t be afraid and shine too.

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“God’s plan to bring light to a dark culture IS US.” C.H

Shine brightly,

Ai

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