Two Weeks And Counting

October 8, 2013 at 4:50 AM | Posted in (All Posts), Study Abroad Blog | Leave a comment
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Seoul CoEx Aquarium earlier this year. The picture doesn’t really apply to what I’m talking about below but hey — I like it.

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So it’s now early October of 2013, and I started this journey into my Korean scholarship a little over a year ago. It’s certainly a unique situation. I find that when I share my story with people face to face, some of them are shocked at my decision to come here, and some (surprisingly some people closest to me) don’t have such a big interest in my story. I don’t necessarily mean that in a negative way. It’s flattering on one hand that some people closest to me just know I’m “off in Korea somewhere traveling and getting paid to be there.”

While that’s not the whole picture, I know when I have a sincere problem and I come to them about an issue they always give me an open ear. But I’m getting sidetracked. Let me update you (on a lot of things). I didn’t pass the TOPIK test in April or July, thus I have a 6-month-extension to try and pass the test in either October or January. Beyond that, I will start my graduate school program next March. And it’s still hard.

This makes the third attempt to complete this entry and my mood is drastically different each time. Today has been hard. The test itself is in less than two weeks and I definitely feel the pressure. Getting out of bed — getting ready –making the long walk to the farthest building on campus to be surrounded by 14 or 15 fellow students who are in the same position as I am — when you do this every weekday from 9 to 4 or 5 (sometimes later) just focusing on one thing — it takes its toll. At least on me.

Even when I devote all of my attention to this goal, it still seems so far away.

I’m not that close with any of the remaining students. One in particular though said something to me that really stuck with me. He’s a 30-something Ethiopian student that doesn’t speak that much (to me at least), but one day after class he and I were both waiting to meet the same teacher for writing practice. I was asking him how classes were going and if he was exciting about starting his grad school program.

He responded to me, “My problem is my interest. I am not interested in learning this, so I can’t make myself learn it.” He went on to talk about how his program will be in English and his professor wants him to use English when speaking to him. He plans on going home (or working elsewhere outside of Korea) when this program is done, so memorizing 65 grammar patterns and all their specific elements is not something he wants to do. Memorizing vocabulary terms and their English counterparts is something he just doesn’t want to do. I was taken back by his honesty, but I really respected his feelings. I thought it was impressive.

I know I need to use Korean in my program, and who knows — I may have a future here in this country, but I still can’t get an interest to learn it (in this environment). But sometimes I feel like I dwell too much on this stuff. On the negative. I listened to Colt Cabana’s most recent podcast with Larry Poffo (retired professional wrestler known as “The Genius” and brother of the late Macho Man Randy Savage) and he and Colt talked about this Happy Bus–Sad Bus theory that was taught to Larry when he was coming up in training. Long story short — it’s about just choosing to be happy — just riding the Happy Bus and going through with it. I admire people that can do that. I won’t say “do that so easily” because as much as I try to chose to be happy, I think it’s hard for anyone.

You have to constantly count your blessings and look how far you’ve come. Look at what you have. Look at your accomplishments, and most importantly — look ahead and know a positive future is there for you. I’m 25 years old living in a foreign country, being paid by a government to learn a new language and pursue a free graduate school degree. I should be the happiest person alive, but if we ran into each other face-to-face on some days you’d think otherwise. The biggest problem I have now is the lack of someone to cope with. I have my loving girlfriend who really is my everything here. But I don’t want her to know me as someone who complains all the time. I don’t want to vent to her about how often I get stared out just walking down the street.

I don’t want to vent to her about how I miss my family and friends and familiar things back home so much. But I do every now and then. I find that most of the new foreigners here at the language school or just on campus can’t really relate to me, and vice versa. I don’t want to bring any happy exchange students down, and most of the other grad students already have their cliques. My closest foreign friends all live in a different city (or different country for that matter) or have already started their own grad school program at a different school. But — I’ll get through this. One way or another this program will end, whether that be me failing the test in October and again in January, or if I can pass and finally start my grad school program and see it through to the end. I’ll try to update again before the test with a more upbeat post.

SOC Screen

In the meantime (to end on a Happy Bus note), I had the chance to play the HD version of Shadow of the Colossus (one of my favorite games of all time) over the summer when a friend let me borrow it. I still own the original PS2 version, but seeing it with this new coat of paint — it looks better than ever. I listen to the soundtrack often when I work out now. Such a fantastic game all the way around.

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