Earlier this year, I was in my graduation robe on stage to receive my Diploma in Mass Communication in Singapore. Like all fresh graduates, I faced the same dilemma upon graduation: Should I pursue a degree or should I start working right away? For me, I was certain on taking a gap year to see the world. In the span of three months, I travelled to the Philippines, Malaysia and South Korea.
However, the idea of commencing college as soon as possible became attractive after I visited reputable colleges like Ewha Womans University as well as Seoul National University during my trip. Countries like Australia and the United Kingdom have been the popular preferences for Singaporeans to further their studies. Having said that, I have always wanted to study in Asia. Upon returning from my trip in Seoul, I went online and explored college choices in Hong Kong, Japan, China and Korea. After shortlisting some institutions, Ewha came at the top of my list. I prepared for my application and got it mailed out the next week. A month later, I was contacted by my former internship company to join the marketing communications team to publicise an upcoming long-form drama. I accepted the offer and worked at a broadcasting station before I received an email notification during an office meeting.
“2015 Fall Application Announcement,” the email said. The news I have been anxiously anticipating for three months finally came. I mentally primed myself for a rejection reply but instead, I was greeted by: “Congratulations on your admittance to Ewha as a 2015 Fall International Student!”
“Oh, no way!” a small voice in my head rejoiced. This piece of news conquered my psyche for an entire month. After serious consideration and arduous discussion with my mother, I decided to accept the offer. The next working day, I timorously walked to my boss’s office and broke the news to her. I can still recall the initial shocked expression on her face as she repeated “are you serious?” We had a half an hour conversation as she addressed my worries and encouraged me. “Just go Nadia. If you don’t like it, you can come back. You’ve got nothing to lose. A failure is also a lesson.”
A month later, I bade farewell to my beloved family and friends at the Changi Airport. As I stepped into the departure hall and looked back at their unsteady hands wiping tears away from their face, I pondered on the thought of the decision I’ve made. I left my loved ones behind. I gave up travelling and the dream job that I loved. This had better be worth it.
As I dragged my luggage across the hallway of Hanwoori Hall to my room, I didn’t know what to expect living in a dormitory with a roommate who I can’t communicate with. Fear and doubt filled every fibre of my being. Fortunately, my roommate is a total sweetheart. Coming from China, she couldn’t speak English very well so with the minimal Mandarin and Korean I know, we communicate in three languages. We have a good relationship and we look out for each other. After our dormitory orientation, I got close to other international students as well.
Then came the first day of school. Never in my wildest dream did I envisage myself stepping into such an esteemed institution. I was pretty much alone for the first two weeks. The people I know were all from different majors so we hardly have classes together. This changed after I became acquainted to a particular classmate and it all began from her shy request to explain what she missed in a class she was absent for. When we realised that we had a similar timetable, we started seeing each other everyday and she’s the reason why I’m beginning to enjoy life here more than I did a month ago. You could say we became the “bestest of friends” if there’s even a term for that. I’m slowly finding Korean language beautiful and fascinating. The culture is exceptionally exquisite.
Maybe this is why I’m here. To meet new people, build new friendships, learn a new language and bask myself in a new culture. This is a personal milestone I’m proud of achieving. Am I regretting my decision? No. This is my best decision, ever.