Some people think that I am a very well-organized person who set goals and knows what she’s doing. But sometimes I make the hastiest decisions out of the blue. Deciding to go on an exchange program to Australia was one of them.
I started to take interest in the exchange programs in my second year just because everyone else (well, quite a few that I know) was either already overseas on exchange or preparing for it. So I thought, why not a moment of recharging from this dull repetitious campus life for me as well? Reason for choosing “Australia” as my country was even more random—I knew no other second language besides English so I was towards an English-speaking country, and the U.S. exchange programs were too competitive among Ewha students. Plus, I wanted somewhere that I can relax and have fun.
Luckily, God gave me a chance to go to UNSW (University of New South Wales), located in Sydney, as an exchange student. However, my rather spontaneous unplanned stay in Sydney was like a Rollercoaster: full of ups and downs. First of all, I had a hard time planning out my time table because there were too many subjects and various time periods to choose from. Lectures were opened enough to seat everyone who was willing to take it. Thus, UNSW students were rather lazy in scheduling their course schedule. That was something I envied, which is very different from the “Enrollment War” held every semester in Ewha before school starts.
In addition, I didn’t realize up until that time that I lacked money managing skills. I had never lived alone without my parents before I went to Sydney, and during my stay I lived in one of the school-provided apartments, which means I had to cook for myself. I wasted a lot of money on food, kitchenware, home appliances, and textbooks. I ended up spending all my three-months worth of money in just a month and a half. I lived with no microwave, no internet.
Part of that money ‘wasted’ was spent on learning how to scuba-dive. Actually, I don’t regret that portion of the money I spent—scuba-diving was the most thrilling experience I’ve had! The scuba-diving license course was a joint program with SydneyDivingAcademy and the school’s underwater club. The course composed of one week of in-door study sessions, two pool practices, and four actual underwater dives. It is hard to explain in words how amazing the view of the underwater world is. I saw a variety of different fish and schools of fish, octopus, seahorses, sea dragons, and also I got to pet a Blue Groper, a 30-50cm big blue friendly fish. All was an absolutely amazing experience.
Also, I have many fond memories with D2MG (the hiphop society). I love dancing, especially hiphop, and was determined to join a dance club ever since school started. D2MG was more of a ‘society’ than a ‘team,’ providing various dance classes and parties, as well as free-jam sessions in the studio, and through those activities I made many friends. Then, a month after, I got to meet a friend by chance who was thinking of forming a dance crew. So we gathered some friends and formed a dance crew called ‘Swish.’ Since I had no money, I practically spent most of my free time and vacation in the dance studio. Nonetheless, it was one of the happiest moments of my Sydney life.
After coming back to Korea, I regret that I should have been more cautious and well-prepared for going to Sydney as I flashback to all the mistakes I made. However, I don’t think I would have ever applied for exchange if I did so. As much as I made many mistakes, I learned many life lessons and gained many things as well. The exchange program was a priceless experience, and if anyone asks me when my most memorable days in college were, I would definite answer ‘those days in Sydney.’