With this dream-like vision of wearing a uniform, I waved my hands to my childhood friends. However, I never got to wear that school uniform. In fact, the biggest news was not even about my graduation: it is that my family would move to Romania, a mysterious East European country.
Although I had dreamt of going to the United States, I never thought of going to Europe. I thought it was a country only existing in fairy tales. That was why I stayed awake during my first 19 hours flight to Romania, with my mind occupied with castles, blonde princesses and princes.
When I stepped into the unfamiliar land of Romania, however, my imagination was shattered and reality peaked in: dirty, unpaved road without sidewalks; bleak, grey buildings that looked as if they will soon collapse; gypsies and homeless dogs wandering around with hungry eyes. Romania, as it turns out, was a communist country until 1989. People had brown skin, hair and eyes. Everything was so different from what I have imagined.
Going to Romania was a step toward the biggest change in my life. But facing changes are relatively easier when you are still inexperienced and young: as you age, changes become more challenging because experiences have taught you that there are so many uncertainties and hidden barriers lurking around in each change. Although Romania turned out to be completely different from what I have imagined, I learned valuable lessons that shaped me. By the time I graduated high school, I became a person whose perspective, personal belief and habits exceeded boundaries set by a nation, culture or race. In my high school, for example, I met people who went beyond what I thought was normal. I learned to stand up for the values I believe in and also to acknowledge and accept differences that others bring.
The next big change came when I was choosing a university. Fortunately, I got accepted to Ewha. But it was far from Changwon, where my parents live. Also, I was not really ready to welcome an all -female environment. It was not an easy transition. However I now know that acceptance to this change presented me a new, valuable experience I cannot gain in any other places and led me to become more independent, confident and thoughtful.
All the changes, whether big or small, made me who I am today and I can proudly say that most changes turned out to have positive effects. Every opportunity in your life requires your courage to embrace changes. However, there is a saying that most opportunities come disguised as difficulties or challenges. I will not tell you to stop being afraid. Be afraid but confront the challenge. Think about all the funs and achievements you will get, and a person whom you envision to be. Let those become guidance to yours, and happily face changes.