today, I would like to talk about my fulfilling student life. as much as older people tell you “enjoy your student life” and that they say that they wanna go back to that “free” life, I can’t entirely agree. I think it is much more important to have a fulfilling student life. and that, is not by just enjoying, but by creating all these memories that when you look back you’d tell yourself “so much happened, and they were all great memories or an experience to learn from” rather than “I just smoked, clubbed and repeat.” which I never got to understand anyways. but the fulfilling student life I had was in my opinion, the greatest thing happened.
in Korea, people tend to do a lot of club activities and be in groups rather than work alone. being a foreigner, it was never easy to fit into the locals but if you are just true to others, trust me, great friends will come. people around me would know that I am far from being a “chill” person despite how I may portray myself on social media. I am always very anxious, I’m a perfectionist, and I want everything to go as planned. but I do notice that that was/is also my biggest flaw. and I am trying very hard to overcome that.
but did that make me regret? nope, I definitely don’t regret my student life. why?
because I took every opportunity there is.
be it part time jobs, events, outings, I seldom said no. the only thing I gave up was probably things that where I just had no choice for, like not joining clubs because I had to focus on my studies/part time jobs or hanging out regularly also due to the same reason. the thing was, I took every opportunity I had to go out, make memories, join competitions, do things I love.. and now when I look back I tell myself “wow!” I really did a lot.
part time jobs —
I am a strong believer of being independent. which way is better to learn than work when you’re a student. you’ll master the art of time management and also learn skills that might be (very) useful for your future. these days, people can’t go to an interview without having anything done. I know it’s dumb how you need work experience prior to your first job, but the work experience from silly part time jobs may actually put you in a much more beneficial spot compared to others who didn’t. of course, it doesn’t mold you to be the best employee, but it does set you apart when you go in for interviews. I think one thing I probably regretted really was that I didn’t read enough and actually remember things I study by heart.
but really, you name it, I’ve done it. (well, nothing shady of course). from being a waitress, teacher, guide, writer, translator, interpreter, assistant, sales, model, photographer (yes! I was paid to take pictures before), foodie, blogger (uh..), talent, marketer, artist, designer… (takes a deep breath) I can’t even remember all of them. I did everything to get a taste of how it feels like to be in shoes of different people to understand the gain and pain of their job nature, and most of all, to understand how different people behave. I was always a fan of behavioral science. I loved studying about cultures and understanding people of different nature, how ones job can actually shape a person so that I can act appropriately facing different people. Because for me, making others happy is what makes me happy.
the best thing of all from doing that crazy amount of part time jobs is that, you don’t rely too much on your parents. you may think “what?! that’s stupid! I LOVE using my parents card!” but I was happy even though I had no money to go to fancy places, buy fancy clothes nor travel a lot. but I earned enough to sustain myself and give myself a treat now and then. I think what mattered to me the most was my self integrity. I have (some) horrible relatives to begin with, I have that type of relatives that take every opportunity to bad mouth you so that they feel better about themselves. so being financially independent was really an accomplishment for me as I myself know that I am not a spoilt brat like what they think. there were many times where I didn’t know what kind of person I really am and having self reassurance was important, and I guess.. being financially independent from my parents were one of them. but I mean, doesn’t it feel good to buy things with your own money than to have nice branded goods bought by you but not paid with your own money?
now this is important. people say that non-nerds become CEOs and nerds end up working for them. I say, that it is just a lifestyle you pick. I know a lot of nerds who holds a high position in a company and many non-nerd who hadn’t even found their path in life. the thing is this, you study, your chances of getting a stable job is higher (of course no job’s really truly stable, but it helps). but if you don’t, yes, you probably have other talents, but they are often riskier and why do they become CEOs sometimes? because of the high risk they take of course! my parents had always taught me that you can succeed in anything you do, as long as you are very good in it.
so what I want you to take away from my experience is that, if you were like me, someone who was just unsure about what to do, take the chance when you’re a student and explore everything. I thought I was going to be a designer, but I noticed I cannot do that as a job. so no problem, I changed majors. I thought maybe accounting or economics would be great. took them, although I did well in those subjects, they bore me to death. then I found marketing, which I liked at first but just think that it is learning the art of becoming a true con-artist. then there’s finance, where I only got to explore during my senior year and although I wasn’t very good in it, fell deeply in love with. I liked the challenges it poses and how numbers can have so much impact and meaning to it.
yeap, remember to study the local way. used to wake up at 4, get there by 4:30-5AM (esp to get a seat!) and get home at 6-7PM. 14 hour of library. good times.
I also took up a lot of weird classes like.. French, Japanese, Chinese, yoga, Confucianism (?!), DNA manipulation (?!!!!) and loved them all. I think it’s really the experience and how it broadens up your knowledge. even if they may not be related to what your dream job is, but for me, they absolutely made me feel like I am much more interesting than people who are smart in one thing. although I may still feel dumb as I am a jack of all trades and a king of none, but I do enjoy learning about seemingly useless things that may shape you to become the unique person you are.
another important thing to note for those studying abroad is that face your disadvantages. I know life is unfair but you chose to be in the unfair system so try to make the best out of your situation. don’t be afraid. I know that it is impossible to learn how to run when you can’t even walk right, but I try very hard to live by the motto “just do it” like Nike lol. but be prepared for a lot of failures.. and in the end, it’ll all work. things are normally not as bad as what I felt it would be and I also believe that hard work will be paid off. who knew that I could get higher grades than the local “high”? well, just believe in yourself. even if you don’t get great grades, you did your best and it will show. give yourself a pat in the back and credit for doing something others won’t do.
competitions, outings and events —
similar to studying, you need to just believe in yourself. join whichever competitions that interests you even if you think chances are slim. because what’s the worst outcome other than by just being rejected? if there’s a university competition, join it. because always remember, whether you get a prize or not, it’ll still be a good memory. and for outings and events, just try your best to participate in as many as you can. they can be a group outing doing a certain thing like cycling, taking pictures, eating chicken, picnic, social events, talks.. for me, I just went to every single one of them to meet new people, to learn something new, or simply just to waste time. I tend to prefer doing a whole lot of different things to bring a variety of experience in my life.
I remembered once where I was so into the Memoirs of Geisha movie that I ran back and forth to get this amazing picture where I used it to enter a local traditional clothing competition where I won 4th place!
ever since I owned my own DSLR, I also had a great interest in taking pictures. although it’s just a side hobby, I made time to meet new people to go take pictures but as much as I like to take pictures, I like being taken too xD. most of my professionally looking pictures are actually taken by my close friends/blooming photographers and some of them are from my own camera too!
saying yes to opportunities —
I can’t cycle prior to going to Japan. there was a handful of people whom are like me who can’t cycle and they opted to go to university by taking the expensive train (because of different lines. really stupid system in Japan.) than to get to school much faster by cycling and also saving a whole ton of money. for me, I took that chance to force myself to cycle. the second time cycling to school, I sprained my ankle so bad that it looked like an elephant leg.
but I never gave up. actually, cycling with a sprained ankle was much more comfortable than walking! I tried and tried and tried. I fell off the bike at least 3 times but who cares when cycling’s actually the best thing that ever happened to me in Japan. a friend of mine live by the saying “learn a new language, live another life” and I can totally relate. but I felt like cycling is similar. it’s like swimming, if you can swim in the ocean, you’ll see a whole new world. in my case, because I cycled, I got to explore all the places less visited in Japan and saw so many beautiful sights (I saw mt Fuji everyday just because I cycled!)
other than that, when I was given the opportunity to write for a magazine with a short timeline, I did. even though I had exams coming up. and frankly, it’s quite cool to have your words (,pictures) and thoughts published for thousands of people to read.
meeting a heck lot of people —
I felt like I personally learn the most from others. deep and inspirational conversations comes from people who are real and good. and to find those people, you will need to meet a whole lot of people to begin with. I feel like the most important thing is not to be sexist, racist, ageist or any of that sort when meeting new people. may it be a teacher, an exchange student or someone much younger, I felt like I can learn something new from everyone. that’s all I have to say :).
here are some pictures from the great memories I had made:
learning how to cycle, and stealing limelight in group activities haha just kidding because I sprained my ankle I was allowed to cycle while everyone else walked.
faced my fear– I learned how to skate from a good looking Swede classmate (Y)
watched a sumo training with our professors.
visited a few offices in Tokyo to see how they work
sneaked a picture in the no-picture zone. but ain’t this the most beautiful library?
had a flower as big as my face on my head. (Korean joke because having a flower on your hair kind of signifies a crazy girl)
explored new restaurants once in a while!
oh my this milk prosciutto risotto is just the best risotto I’ve ever had!!!
appearing in Korean TV with my horrible full name stated.
woke up to these around where I lived in Japan. really, if you want to study overseas, make a business plan and show it to your parents that you can do it, especially without using much of their resources lol.
that’s it from me. so go out there, be active and take your opportunities!