it’s been almost 6 years, since the day I moved to Korea. it was a decision I probably made since I was 8 and I was so certain that I wanted to stay in Korea and call it my home for the rest of my life when I first saw Korea on the huge box TV. “where’s that?! that place is beautiful! I want to live there in the future!” was what I told my mom. she was amazed at my undying love for Korea (that was way before Korea became cool) and always suspected me to be Korean in my past life. so when I was 19, I moved to Korea for REAL. and I never regretted it. although I studied probably much more than the local students even, I still had fun; I became independent, I learned a new language, lived a new life, and somehow turned into a 3rd cultured kid. what I think was the biggest take-back from my experience abroad was probably my view of things in life. as foreigner as I am, I am culturally pretty Korean, but not fully. I guess it really takes understanding on both ends to come up with your own views in life. not just Korea, but my (almost) 1 year exchange in Japan had taught me a lot too.
so you may think, what’s the best thing I learned from Korea and Japan then?
Korea: I guess it will be the word 정 (Jeong) which literally means “love/affection” but not like the relationship type of love. it’s very difficult to describe it in English because it’s a value that’s almost non-existence in western cultures. it’s the relationship between people. the “love” you have with other people even if you are not close with them. in Korea, you may have people talking to you randomly and giving life advice out of “love” and you will be surprised at how nice some people will be to guide you if you look lost. although it normally only happens among Korean people, the later generations are extending their “love” to foreigners these days too! there are much more to 정 but you get the drill. I used to be very individualistic, but I find myself being more and more of the opposite. I noticed how I became much happier loving others and making their day. I think these are all just Confucian’s teachings but sometimes maintaining the harmony of the system does make you feel very warm and fuzzy inside.
Japan: it will definitely have to be how to be considerate towards others. I was recently told that I was “betraying” my country for speaking “standard” English without a hint of Manglish. but I look at it in a very different manner especially after I’ve been to Japan. they say that do what makes you happy and stop trying to please other people because it will make you unhappy. but I beg to differ. I guess to me it is more important to see the people around me feel comfortable and happy; that makes me truly happy. why sulk and show your true emotions when your smile can actually make other people feel great too? maybe you would argue with me on how it’s weird to think this way, but I would like to say that there is no right or wrong, but for me, being considerate and caring towards others make me feel great about myself.
of course, every country has their own good and bad sides and I dare not say that Korea or Japan are the best countries in the world. but if I were to give my juniors a piece of advise, it would be to go out there and explore the world. there are so much more than what you think is your world. because your world live in your thoughts. they say that learning a new language means living another life, and I cannot agree more. so the second advise will be: go learn a new language. French, Italian, German, Korean, Japanese, whatever. travel there, and try understanding the culture while learning the language, you will find yourself learning much more than just the language and culture!
I am actually in the Philippines (for training) right now and I have left Korea for almost 2 weeks. am I used to it? absolutely not. but am I happy? YES I AM. I am glad to announce that I have officially moved to the next stage of my life: the work life. I really miss the efficiency in everything and the beautiful Korean weather, the fast internet, the yummy food, the people.. everything. but I also did not want to limit myself to only Korea because the job opportunities for me were rather narrow. (maybe I should blog about it one day, but job seeking for foreigners who does not have a background in Engineering/IT DOES mean that you may probably end up with offers for jobs wanting you because of your language skills and nothing else. that was what I was facing with in Korea, but it may differ from person to person depending on luck as well) I was battling between doing something that I do not like and live in a place that I love, or land myself in a dream job not knowing whether if I will like the place I will live in. obviously, I took up the latter. although I am only with my company for 2 weeks, I am very, very happy that I chose to work here. I cannot emphasize enough on how important a company’s culture is when landing yourself on the perfect job. although I will need to move abroad (again) and start anew, I believe that we shall never limit ourselves to anything, and just go with what our heart tells us to.
that’s all for now from me today. let me know what else you want to know and I will try to write about it!!