It certainly wasn’t a walk in the park. The roller coaster ride continues. Emotions up and down. One day, I am feeling positive. The next day, I just wanna give up everything and go home. This is why the Lord reminds us not to be deceived by our emotions.
The first week was the worst. I cried almost every single night. I missed home and I was soooo worried about my subjects which will all be in Korean. On my third day, I attended the orientation for MA in Social Welfare and I didn’t understand anything. I panicked and just shut off. Now looking back, maybe if I listened a little bit better, then I could’ve understood something.
So LESSON #1: DO NOT PANIC. Hahaha
Unlike other international students, I didn’t go through the 1 year language course. I had to dive in to graduate school right away. No time for adjustment. Which brings me to the second lesson.
LESSON #2: Even if you have TOPIK 4, I suggest you still go through the 1 year language course so that you will have time to adjust and get use to the language. It will help you a lot once official classes starts.
After the orientation, I insisted with the international office to let me go through the language classes. They finally agreed but I have to take it with my MA since I am already enrolled for the Fall Semester. Now, I am taking 3 days for Korean Level 4 and 2 days for gradschool. Other international students told me that I am crazy for that extra burden of having to take the Korean course since I am already good in Korean but I still feel like it helped me gain confidence in the language. So I will just have to stick to it for this semester.
There was favor upon favor even before I left the Philippines and since I arrived Korea. I had no difficulties at the airport processes and when I arrived at KNU, two students from East Timor helped me carry my bags to the 5th floor of the dormitory (Yes, I live on the 5th floor, exercise everyday!). And now, they have become my good friends, too. I am closest now with a girl from Peru. We do almost everything together, shopping for our dorm needs, registering for our classes, etc.
LESSON #3. MEET NEW FRIENDS. In a foreign land, you surely wouldn’t survive alone. That would be emotional torture. Go out, make friends and have fun with them. When I was worrying about almost everything, my new friends from all over the world encouraged me. Hearing their stories about going through their major subjects in Korean inspired me and motivated me to also keep going. We all are facing different battles in our personal lives but I guess we can always relate with each other regarding our battle with our major subjects in Korean. Haha.
LESSON #4. CONNECT WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS BACK HOME. Having new friends is good. But staying connected with your family and friends back home helps a lot, too. When I was struggling on my first week, I chat with my mom day and night. I cried and just let it all out. I’m just so blessed to have her. ^^ Shoutout to my church leaders, Ate Jade and Ate Sharmie, too! Haha. Thank you, Ates!
You don’t have to keep it all to yourself and pretend you are strong and having a great time in Korea. For me, it helped that I just laid down my weakness and allowed God to work in me.
“I CAN’T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING. I CAN’T DO IT.” These thoughts occupied my mind the first week. And maybe this was where all the anxiety came from.
LESSON #5. When we focus on how big our problem is, we do not see how GREAT OUR GOD IS!
Now, looking back the past 2 weeks, I can see God doing everything in His power to help me and allow me to enjoy this season. But I couldn’t see them because I was too focused on the challenges in front of me. At that time, I didn’t see that:
- He sent Lily to help me and gave me access to her personal wifi so I can connect to my mom. God knew I needed to talk to my mom or else I will go crazy. Haha (dormitory wifi stopped working days before I arrived)
- He sent Marisabel (Peru) to accompany me almost everyday so that I won’t be scared going to places, buying things, etc.
- He allowed me to get the bed that I want so that I will feel comfortable in this new home away from home. (I got the lower deck, yay!)
- He sent a mother who sat beside me during the orientation and who happens to be on the same major (MA Social Welfare). She doesn’t speak English so we just talk in Korean all the time. She helped me with class registration and she is even enrolled in the same subjects as I am! That’s already a huge relief for me.
- He sent me to a beautiful land. I didn’t see the beauty of Korea at first. But hopefully as I keep going, He will open my eyes to see the beauty of this season He brought me into.
Small things, big things. They’re all from God.
LESSON #6. DO NOT BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF. I have to remind myself all the time to just do my best and God will do the rest. If I couldn’t understand everything, then I have to acknowledge I am not Korean. I will always have difficulty in the language. I can’t get everything over night! But there should be no fear of the future because God is with me. No doubts. No shame. It is only by His grace that I can thrive in this season.
I praise Him in every blessing.
And I will continue to praise Him even in battle.
He is Lord over all.