As a citizen of Korea, but as a child who lived in America since first grade, Korea was unfamiliar to me. Just like any K-Pop star fans, Korea was a fantasy.
I went to Korea on Fall 2016 for my social work field placement and on Spring 2017 for a study abroad. I decided to extend my experience in Korea because one semester was not enough to fully immerse into the daily lives of normal citizens. In order to see how culture come in play in the system of a country, you need to first understand the historical background and have an objective mind to just accept it as it is. Then, you can distinguish different from wrong and right from wrong. I observed my friends (who also came to study abroad) that you will encounter many culture differences and it is your choice to acquire a cynical attitude or open-minded attitude towards them. This will have a different result: either enjoy it or lose it.
The most important lesson I learned through my experience and observation is to cherish the moment. It has been 10 years since I’ve met my relatives. Every visit was valuable, but I’ve noticed that this wasn’t true for my cousins of my generation. When Korean families have occasional family events, all the members gather, including the children, usually at the oldest son’s house or at any living elder’s home. This tradition is fading away as children cease to participate in the events and the events, themselves, are decreasing as Confucian ideas lessen in the culture of Korea. Additionally, the value of the extended family is diminishing. This fact saddened me, but thankfully, my persistence paid off and my relatives increasingly seemed to appreciate the gatherings. Not only meeting my family was enjoyable but enjoying the activities that I cannot experience in America was worthy. America may be big geographically, but it is still a country, not the whole world. Observing a different world tears off the shade of your colored lens. Then, this new glasses lets you realize that you only live today once and now is your last chance. I’ve learned to give this moment all I got.