Living and working in another country is not only a time of adventure, but also a time of discovery. You'll discover new foods and cultures. You'll experience things you've only read about in books or seen on TV. Every single day of your life becomes an adventure. There are things that you'll learn about yourself that you never knew existed. It's more than just seeing the wonders of the world, even though that's exciting as well. You'll learn how much you can take. You'll be challenged to see how far you can step out of your comfort zone. You'll experience things that are beyond imagination.
Life in Korea has been both a blessing and a curse. Things that would be simple back home become difficult and challenging. Sometimes leaving the house, you have to mentally prepare yourself for what the day will be like. I find myself having pretend conversations in Korean in my head so that when I do speak to a Korean I don't sound ridiculous. It's the little things that begin to take its toll after a while, but with the bad, there is always good. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to be living in such a beautiful country. Many people end up leaving Korea bitter and resentful, but I know that I won't feel that way. My dreams of living in a far off land would not have come true. I would have lived a life of regret and now that I know what it's like, I can move on.
I discovered so much about myself in the past 18 months. I've learned that here is so much more going on in the world than what happens in my tiny little existence. The work ethic in Korea is unreal. The kids are always studying. Their days start at 7am and they don't end until close to 11pm. The adults are always working, trying to strive for more, trying to reach the next level. Koreans work themselves to exhaustion, but it's ingrained in them to have the best life possible. They are a resilient people and that is something that I can truly admire.
I've also learned that there is so much to see and experience. We are so blessed to live in such a beautiful world. America is a diverse and amazing country, but it only scratches the surface of what is out there. Being an ex-pat has given me the opportunity to explore countries that I never would have been able to afford or thought of. Last year, I was able to finally travel to the Philippines. I finally saw the land of my people and the home of my parents. It was a moving experience and one I might have missed out on.
The most important thing I learned about myself is that I can conquer my fears. When I was younger, I was always known to be a spoiled brat. I never finished anything and I'm pretty sure that all my family and friends thought I would never amount to anything. I took all of their doubts and negativity and used that to fuel my determination to make something of myself. I've been blessed with a wonderful husband and a job that I love. After moving abroad, I used that same determination to succeed in Korea as well.
Before coming here, I was worried that it wasn't going to work out. I went through all the scenarios in my head. They ranged from naughty children, horrible co-workers and nasty living conditions. Despite all these possibilities, I was determined to make it work. Thankfully, none of my scenarios came to fruition. I wake every day with the hope that this day will be better than the last and to make the most of my situation. Having this sort of attitude has taught me one important lesson. As long as I strive to do my best and always be optimistic, I can truly do anything and conquer any fears.
My time in Korea is coming to a close soon, but the lessons I've learned and the challenges I've faced have made me a better person. I've become a better version of myself. I've grown into a stronger woman. I've discovered how much I can handle and how far I can go. I've discovered that anything is really and truly possible.