The Temper of November

November 27, 2013 at 12:11 PM | Posted in (All Posts), Study Abroad Blog | Leave a comment
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Another gap of time fill in.

I took my most recent TOPIK test on the 21st of October. It was the least difficult test I’ve taken yet, whether that be an actual TOPIK or just a practice test in the classroom, but it’s still too risky to feel any shred of confidence. The hardest thing about the test is the fact that I understood SO MUCH of the content. I could read the questions and really get what they were saying, where as previous attempts were just a game of spotting recognizable words — but this one felt good. That being said, a lot of the answers themselves were unfamiliar so it still came down to an educated guessing game.

The writing part was the easiest writing part I’ve take on any test as well, but it’s so hard to tell if I could get any points out of those crucial questions. And the reading…which strangely enough has given me the most points in the past yet is the part that I feel the least confident with — was so difficult. Instead of just scanning through questions, I decided to take my time on the questions and really just try to dissect the right answers. I ran out of time so the last 10 questions or so were basically blind guessing. So that really could hurt me or help me.

Regardless, the results come out on the 5th of December so I’ll know how I did then.

DSC01948

Driving “Rocky” — my Jeep in the summer of 2012 with my bike in tow. Forgive the goofy look on my face. Having the open road and that freedom — one of the best times of my life. But only now I can realize that.

My mind is definitely starting to wander these days. It’s so hard to focus on studying again after slaving away day in and day out before the previous test. Some days I do just question my reason for being here when it feels so hopeless. I know the grad school program will start next year, but I’ve been caught in this routine of studying Korean day in and day out that it has beaten me nearly to death. And I have nothing to show for it. When I dwell on that…I definitely miss life back home. I miss being able to hop in my beautiful 1999 white Jeep Wrangler with my bike in the back, driving to the park near my home and bike for hours on the lakeside trail. Or just driving on an open road with nothing but my iPod to keep me company. Or seeing my adorable little nieces. When I think about those things it really takes its toll.

But I can say this now with a very clean conscience, and if anyone takes ANY ADVICE or anything from this blog, I hope these words stick.

I used to put the value of my life on what I had accomplished. On the stories I could share. On the adventures I had. I was looking anywhere for happiness. But I’ve learned that I honest-to-God-in-Heaven had everything around me from the start to be happy with. I had a good job. I received a good education. I had good friends. A very loving family. The car of my dreams. And I had my thoughts. I had food on the table and a bed to sleep on.

I have met people who have come to Korea with this program that didn’t have those things. I always can hear my Dutch friends voice of talking about how Bangladesh is one of the only countries in the world where people can still be eaten by a tiger. I mean — that’s a thing that happens. At a point during the year during flood/tsunami/heavy rain season they are pushed to higher elevation, sometimes the jungles — and people get eaten. I have met at least two people on this scholarship from Bangladesh. I have never asked them about it nor do I plan on it. I mean, people can be shot in the US as well — but Tigers are not a problem we have.

That might not paint the best picture, but I have met people that came here to not only better their lives but to take care of their families. They send money home from their scholarship account and try to live on barely anything for the remainder of the month.

I didn’t grow up wealthy…but I was not poor in the least bit. I had a good Christmas every year of my childhood. I had so many good things, but now that I live in a tiny one room in a house owned by an old couple, sharing a single bathroom with 6 people, no kitchen to my access — just a bed and a desk and some places to hang my clothes. It’s not living on the streets, and I have a roof over my head. It’s a good home for now — but I’d be lying to you if I said it was comfortable for a long term place.

I wanted to do a Thanksgiving post after this one, but considering tomorrow is the 28th (in Korea) — well technically right now as I right this — I realize this post could be just that.

I have a lot to be thankful for. I do envy some of my friends back home, working day to day getting a comfortable pay check, living in a comfortable home, being able to eat the foods they want and drive where they want — because right now those things are not with me. At least now like how they used to.

But I have a good life. I do. I know this experience has made me grow up. I’ve experienced feelings of anger after racism came my way. I’ve experienced feelings of depression because my support system is a world away. I’ve experienced feelings of stress when surrounded by a language that confuses me. But I’ve grown up from all of it. I accept it. I know people go through these things and much worse in other lives. So I’ll come out of this better than ever.

I feel like this might be another post that I am fishing for an end, because now I just have thoughts for my next post. But I don’t want readers to feel like I’m upset about being here in Korea. I’m not. I have so much to be thankful for. And I don’t regret making the choice to leave the US for grad school.

Anyways — I wish a very happy Thanksgiving to my family and friends back in the US and to anyone reading this, all around the world. God bless.

Ooljin

^ Went on a trip with my girlfriend and her family back in the summer to the east coast of Korea. This was taken near a small city called “Ooljin.” Next to the ocean with such peaceful weather — a strong memory from my 2013.

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