Small But Mighty Moments

A letter to the girl frantically packing her suitcase last August: 

I know that at any moment the realization that you are moving across the world tomorrow is going to hit you like a ton of bricks. This is not the first time that you will be living abroad, but this will be the first time you’ve moved somewhere all by yourself, with a rudimentary understanding of the language, and for this long of a time period. Things are about to change drastically, and I know it is just about to set in. 

As future you I could give you some advice as you finish your checklist and zip up your suitcase. But here’s the thing: I won’t. 

I think that navigating the unknown, learning to trust yourself, becoming your own advocate, and feeling nervous will be some of the most rewarding aspects of your upcoming time in Korea this semester. 

Here’s what I will say. Start that conversation in Homeplus with strangers trying to buy a duvet cover. Go up to the shopkeeper, or the security guard, or the program coordinator and ask your question even if your grammar is wrong. Don’t be afraid to reach out and invite a new friend to that new sushi place you found (It will become your favorite restaurant in Anam — I promise). And say yes to all those weekend trips. Embrace the fact that you will become a de facto translator on said weekend trips. Jeju will be the highlight and Daegu will steal your heart in a surprising way.

Said favorite sushi restaurant

Navigate your daily interactions with resilience and patience. Everyday tasks will be more difficult and take more time. Budget for that. But also understand that your willingness to be brave, advocate for yourself, and find creative solutions will make you a stronger and more adjusted member of your new community. It may not get easier but it will get better. I promise.

I think that looking back my new goals would focus on more practical elements of everyday life. Do something out of your comfort zone, talk to the person sitting next to you in class, don’t be afraid to take a solo trip, take initiative, use Korean with your Korean friends even if you feel more comfortable speaking English. In the mundane aspects of life so much growth will occur. You’ll learn words you would never encounter in classroom contexts, you’ll have an epiphany in the midst of your new friends asking you silly, but well-intentioned questions about American culture, and the four time zones you constantly oscillate between will start to feel more and more harmonious (your mental math capabilities will increase as well). 

So for now, as your retrospective self, just breathe. Focus on packing your suitcase and start preparing yourself for an experience that will be one of the most important moments in your undergraduate career. 

Fighting always, 

End-of-December you

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