We recently had an interesting discussion about change in our class. A few of the issues we touched on were: Is it ever too late to change?, Is change really necessary in our lives, or should things should just stay the same as they already are? We talked about the last big change we ever made in our lives. It made me stop to think about many changes, but one really stood out for me. I realized, the biggest change I had made in 2016 was moving from Nairobi, Kenya to Seongnam, Korea.
The big and tremendous step of leaving one’s country behind, crossing lands, oceans and seas, is a truly humbling one. It is more interesting for a first-timer because everything is new, original and at times shocking, but in a good way. Being new to a place may make one feel very small and insignificant but it still makes one want to give a little more attention to self. Those many unimportant details one had ignored suddenly seem so much dearer than anyone could have ever imagined. It creates a wider space in the heart that can accommodate a lot of things. It gives a certain kind of strength that you never knew you had.
Gachon University is a place where I am surrounded by all kinds of personalities. Every passing day here expands my imagination. Every passing day helps me to be a better person. Every passing day urges me to love myself more. I still remember my first day and the excitement that beamed through me. That day still holds a special kind of poignancy. I checked into the dormitory and the first friend I made, as I was recovering from my overwhelmed self, was a girl I met while taking a walk down the hill from the dormitory. I think I was just looking around with a dreamy trance.
I am three months old in Gachon University. And I cannot wait for a time when my Korean speaking will be fluent. I cannot wait for my first ever winter experience. Spring season just passed and the beautiful cherry blossoms were colorful and vivid. I remember the pleasure of watching them gracefully fall. I am amazed at how quickly the weather changes; how the silver moon looks from my pale window.; and the green of the vegetation that grows on the hillside near the dormitory.
My character is growing. I am truly immersed in Korean language and culture the way I had wanted. The many experiences here are a great exploration. I am improving my Korean capability faster than I thought. I have gotten very used to the way of greeting, too. At first, I unknowingly made mistakes but with time I have learnt a lot of what is expected of me as far as the Korean culture is concerned. I have learnt to embrace many different ideas in Korean custom.
Yay!, to the many amazing friends I make every day. Yay!, to the awkward silence that follows whenever I get stuck in the middle of a conversation in Korean. Yay!, to the curious looks. Yay!, to just everything.
And yes, I will be greater. And yes, my coming is going to be much more beneficial. I choose to take everything with tenderness and retain the same focus I had on my first day of coming. I choose to take in the wonderfully, intense experience. I choose to be my nicest, natural self. I choose to hug myself and tell myself the perfect words. Because change requires flexibility, I have learnt to make allowances in my choices, decisions and everything. I look forward to a great time of personal growth and progress during my time in Gachon University.
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Onyulo Emily Achieng
Dept. of Liberal