Oh Korea! We’ve almost been together for a year haven’t we? Our relationship isn’t always perfect but we have great times!
So what has Korea taught me lately?
Korea has taught me that I must have time for myself and developing my sense of self! I must take time to meditate, enjoy the little things, and be very conscious of my relationships with other people.
Yes, I know this sounds silly. I mean, haven’t I always enjoyed life, meditated and been conscious of my relationships? In a way, yes I have, but in other ways Korea has provided me a unique space to really look deeply at these three things.
1. Enjoying Life- I live on an island and it’s considered the most beautiful place in Korea, with thousands of tourists traveling here every year. Instead of looking for a bar or club to go to, my friends and I are happy to head to the nearest beach, climb the nearest oreum (Korean name for a volcanic hill) or mountain, or just walk around discovering new parts of the city or island itself.
2. Meditation- While I grew up in a religious home, in my opinion the art of meditation and journaling was overlooked in my childhood church experience. When my mind feels heavy, I try to take a step back and really survey what’s bothering me and I often do this by writing in my journal. Sometimes I sit down to write one thing and end up writing something else, giving me new insight on the issue that is troubling my mind. Meditation is still very new to me, but taking quiet moments to breathe and think seem to help me reduce my stress levels.
3. I have to be Conscious of my relationships with the people around me- We often take our friendships for granted. I was very guilty of this before coming to Korea. I have an amazing group of friends and coming to Korea (and dealing with tons of new people) made me survey why I appreciate those people I call my friends and what my criteria for friendship is. Not every person I’ve met in Korea is my friend; some people are just acquaintances and some are not meant to be in my life and that’s okay! That’s how life works! Often times in the age of Facebook will make us feel guilty for not considering someone a “friend”. Let me be the one to warn you: don’t allow yourself to accept mediocre friends into your life. It’s not worth it in the long run and you will be disappointed when those mediocre friends don’t truly care about you. Real friendships are so much more than clicking “like” buttons and posting cute pictures online. I also learned that sometimes your family relationships will need adjusting while you travel abroad. I’ve learned to be careful not to let one or two people control how I view my family members and to actually reach out to family members and try to see things from their points of view. I may not always agree with them, but I will listen to them (unless the conversation takes a prolonged negative tone and then I will cut that off).
Living abroad has truly given me the time to survey my life in a way I never had time to do in college or graduate school. As people, we are very busy, but taking time to survey yourself and where you are currently (along with your successes or things you want to change) will help you reach more of your future goals. So stop and relax sometimes because in those moments, you may find your next inspiration!
I plan to write more about the power of the journal soon, so check back if you’re interested in how keeping a journal can help you!