Few days ago, my friend Macie tagged me on a post in Facebook. She posted a blog post from Thought Catalog entitled “What Happens When You Live Abroad”. She also tagged our other friends who also came back from the Exchange Student program that we had last year and all of us have almost the same reaction about the blog post, “It’s fucking true.”
There are a lot of differences between South Korea and the Philippines- language, culture, way of living, beliefs, etc. I’ve thought of these differences when I’m still in the Philippines preparing for my 10-month Korean adventure. I asked my self, “Will I survive?” At first, I was scared. I don’t know the kind of people that I’ll be going to deal with and that was the first time I went abroad. But then I promised myself that I will do anything that I want to do during that 10-month Exchange Student program, I must be brave, I must be strong because this was my choice- to go abroad and study.
That 10 months did pass away quickly but I can’t say that I didn’t have any difficulties. There were a lot of challenges, tough decisions to make, lessons learned and adventures that I will never ever forget. I also cried a lot because of different arguments, problems and during the tough times especially when I was sick. Yes, it’s really hard to be sick when you’re abroad. But these are challenges that I need to face and I’m proud to say that I was able to conquer them.
I met a lot new people, new friends, not only from Korea but from different countries inside and outside Asia. I was able to see different kinds of culture when I studied in the Korean Language Center of Hannam University. It was really one of the best parts of that exchange student program- immersing yourself in different cultures. Of course I will have my first impression about the people of a certain country, but after the exchange program, my views and opinions about them changed.
I was also able to know myself more. How do I behave when I’m in the Philippines and when I am in Korea, how do I make decisions all by myself, how do I manage to be sociable with Koreans and how to express my opinions and views about certain topics. I can also say that I noticed some changes with my personality after I went to Korea.
I missed the Philippines, the food, my family and friends, but I had a hard time leaving Korea. A week before I went back to the Philippines, I always cry before I sleep. I always thought of the good and bad memories that I had in Korea. It was really hard to leave that place especially Daejeon and Seoul. And here’s one of the best memories that I had in Seoul:
December 27 was my last trip to Seoul. It was a very cold day. I went to Incheon International Airport on the 26th to accompany my friend who’s going back to Manila. I didn’t have enough sleep since we stayed up all night at the airport. When I reached Seoul, I started walking very slow, looking and remembering all the things that I can see. Seoul Station, Lotteria, Baskin Robbins, Paris Baguette, the T-Money reloading machine, the subway trains, Namsan tower… everything. I went to Myeongdong and went straight to Myeongdong Catholic Church. I went to the grotto behind the church and offered some candles for thanksgiving. I was crying while praying and expressing my gratitude to the 10 wonderful months that I was able to spend in Korea. I promised that I will go back, I will always go back to Korea. I left the church after few minutes of praying and when I was walking down the stairs and a nun smiled at me. I smiled back at her and bowed my head. I was about to continue walking but the nun suddenly asked me in Korean, “Did you see the nativity scene?” I replied “Yes.” in Korean and I smiled. She added “It’s beautiful, right?” I nodded and smiled again. It wasn’t my first time to talk with a nun in Korea but I felt really touched when she stopped for a while and talked to me. I wanted to hug her during that time, I wanted to tell her that I will go back to the Philippines and I will miss South Korea.
I wish I could go back again soon. I miss everything about Korea but I still need to fulfill my duties and responsibilities here in the Philippines. I miss my life in Korea, I will never ever forget everything that I learned in that country. Never. 😀