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Korea Diaries Part 1

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The Korea Diaries: Part 1

By Ryan Loughrey
The Part Where I am Still in America


This Is My Story and the Destination is South Korea !!!!!





I have a nasty habit of starting projects, like homework, paintings, or college, and then never really following through on them. That is why I find it so surprising that in two days, I will be sitting on a plane for nearly 12 hours, destination: Seoul, South Korea. As much as I would like to say that the only purpose in my venturing there is to be able to proclaim “I’m a Seoul man” (which, rest assured, I will do), I am actually going there under a much more academic guise.


You see, I was lucky enough to earn a scholarship that allows me to spend a semester studying abroad at Soonchunhyang University, located a few hours south of Seoul. The university resides in a peaceful and quaint little college town with a population of a mere 200,000.


I had learned of Shasta College’s program that allowed students to travel there and tutor English to the Korean students through a dear friend of mine who had spent a semester there and simply put, fallen in love with the culture. In fact, she is mad that I am only staying one semester when I have the opportunity to stay for up to three.


I learned of this program at the pivotal moment in a teenagers life, when he or she has lived in an area for long enough that he or she is tired of the same faces and drama, craving new adventures and perhaps a new life, the chance at making a new name for oneself, and when the craving and intoxication of freedom causes he or she to leave the nest, so to speak. Some people go away to fancy Universities, racking up miles of debt in their wake; I chose to stay at home and attend community college at a greatly discounted cost. If I hadn’t, I would have never known about this opportunity that I was now so eager to grasp.

So I filled out a few forms, wrote a humble paper telling how I was the greatest and most worthy of this scholarship, and then waited, presuming that I would get the neatly typed and formal rejection letter that is too often the response when applying for scholarships.


It was a pleasant surprise, as you may know, when I received indication that I had been chosen for the scholarship! I now had the opportunity I desired, to see new lands and live life a little fuller. Even then it did not sink in that I would be leaving. I suppose I assumed I could just throw some clothes in a bag and leave the country for near 5 months.


Turns out that there is a lot of preparation, as I came to find out. First of all, to travel internationally there is this strange form of identification that is known as a ‘passport’ and costs a lot to obtain, then there is a plane ticket, then there are vaccinations, not to mention trying Korean food to see if you even like it. I was confronted with the challenge that if I wanted something that could be potentially very good for me, I would have to work for it.


I think the realization that I would be living across the sea sunk in, like an anchor in the ocean, when I said goodbyes.


In fact, I believe that the goodbyes are the hardest part about leaving. Honestly, I think that might be what stops a lot of people from leaving: the notion that they will have to leave behind all the people they have grown so close to, and have become such a regular facet of daily life that perhaps their importance seems to be diminished.


It is a strange experience to find that we are important, that simply by existing perhaps we can make other people a little happier. I almost cried when one of my coworkers told me that I had been instrumental in transforming my workplace into more of a family environment, where coworkers were friends, not just people you see at work.


Or perhaps saying goodbye to my dear friend Valerye, who, unbeknownst to both of us, had transformed into my best friend. We had adventured long and hard this summer, cramming adventures into a short summer: backpacking, rock scrambling, hiking, jumping off waterfalls, etc. I don’t actually cry while saying goodbye, but usually in the car ride home while surrounded by beautiful music and the silent emptiness of the heart do the tears come. They subside, naturally, and I realize that I will see them again, and make new friends.


Now, my suitcase is packed and my mental state is freaked out. I think I am ready to travel.

Comments (2)

  • Emily

    What a great opportunity! This is a great article to get others excited about applying for a scholarship in the future.

  • Emily

    This is a terrific article to get others excited about applying for such scholarships in the future. Congratulations to you, and enjoy your amazing opportunity.


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