Recently Cindy told me about her reflections when it came to traveling. For those of you who don’t know, Cindy has recently traveled to Vietnam and Malaysia and has had some pretty epic adventures. Through her travels she explained how she met some of the most incredible people from all over the world, and even with some people she felt that she was the least likely to connect with on a deeper level. I can’t quote what she said to me exactly, but it went along the lines of “I have become to define my travels through the people I meet, rather than the things that I see.”
When she told me that, I pondered about the statement for a second and then it suddenly struck a chord in my heart. In that moment of contemplation, I realized that the same applied to me through my travels as well in Korea. Although I have eaten some of the most delicious food, seen some of the trendiest places, and got the most outrageous deals on stuff I don’t think I can define my time in Korea through any of that. I have to definitely say that the only way that I can sum up my experiences in Korea is through the people that I have met.
I have met so many wonderful people in Korea who have truly touched my heart and that I now consider as family. The majority of the people I have befriended in Korea consist of the people in the youth group at the church that my grandmother attends. It all started two years ago when I was convinced by my grandmother to go to a summer camp for young adults at the church. At first I was very hesitant because of my sub-par Korean skills, but I figured that it might be a good experience so I took the plunge. Through the camp I clicked with a ton of people, and I was pretty popular during the camp from being from America and all. After the camp finished, I spent a lot of time with many of the people that I met and was able to grow with them on a more-personal level. It ended up being one of the best summers of my life.
Fast-forward another two years (this summer) and when I attended mass I was welcomed with open arms from everyone that I had met two years previous. It was a heart-warming feeling to have this family on the other side of the world that welcomed me with the most genuine gestures. Even though I am technically an outsider by coming from America, the people from my church took me unconditionally as one of their own.
Through these people, I have further learned how truly important friendships and inter-personal connections are in life. Although I have also earned a pretty penny in Korea through tutoring, I would say that I have grown much more wealthy from the accumulation of friends (and I now consider to be family) during my short time here. And with only one week left in Korea before I go to Europe, I wanted to write a momento to all the people I have connected with during my time here.
Sung Tae Hyung
I met you 3 years ago and ever since that moment, I have seen you as an older brother and a mentor when it comes to life. You have really put me under your wing and helped me so much when it came to adjusting to life in Korea. You left such a deep impression on me, especially through all the wise things that you have told me when I first met you, and I feel that I have built a stronger affinity to you this summer as well. Our trip to Pohang was simply amazing, and I loved sightseeing just as much as our little chats in the car together. You are someone that I know that I will know for a long time. If you visit the US anytime, you are more than welcome to visit me.
Noona, it has been 2 years ever since we first got chosen as “Mr and Mrs Smith.” I really think it was God who ended up pairing us together. I remember being very intimidated about going to camp due to my weak Korean, but you made the bus ride there ever-so pleasant by listening to what I had to say and talking with me as well. You are probably one of the kindest and selfless people that I know in Korea and in the world, and I cannot put into words how grateful I am have to met you. Although our time together was very short, it was sweet as well. I really see you as my older sister and family, and I feel a strange sense of calm and belonging when I am with you. You have really helped shape my trips to Korea to some of the most pleasant times in my life ^^
Hey Hyung, I know you have a Facebook (you early adopter) and that you will have the chance to actually read this. But when I first met you and found out that you were also into photography, I felt a strong connection towards you. You are incredibly friendly and open, and just very approachable. You sound like you are doing some pretty incredible work in school and what you are pursuing. I am glad that I met an artsy guy like you in Korea ^^
Not only did I have the opportunity to grow deeper with people who live in Korea, I have also grown closer to people that I know back from the states. It’s funny how we barely have time to meet up back home, but we can meet in another country.
Rosa- it was great hanging out and having fun in Gangnam and also meeting up with Scott at the hospital hahaha. You never failed to prove yourself in terms of your tolerance and thanks for the oil wipes! Hahaha. But being one of the first people I hung out with a lot during the beginning of my trip to Korea it was nice to know that I had you to kick it with and stuff. I hope to see you back in norcal soon!
Mark- although I have never had the opportunity to really have a conversation with you back at UCLA when I was a freshman, I’m glad that we were able to talk over stuff in Korea. I really think that you’re a spectacular guy. And I also forever apologize for that one time I called out you during the Kyrie circle for not looking straight at me hahahah. And omg, epic Noraebang haahaha.
Jason- hey Jason it was great to get to grow closer to you this summer. Ever since that epic night with that Tong-Dak at Yongdongpo (damn I was full until the next day at lunch after that meal) we just clicked pretty well. I always loved hearing your stories as well as just doing random epic stuff together (hahahah getting lost at that PC bang at Jamsil). You gotta teach me a thing about two about video once I get back home. But for some reason, I feel that I’m going to see you back in Korea sometime… really soon haha.
John- dawg ever since we met up 3 years in Korea (thanks to the help of Julie) we have been homies ever since. All those epic times we have had (Chinese girls, jjim jjil bang, hongdae, pc bang, many others…) But I really respect you for your dedication especially to your duties in life and it inspires me a ton. It was great meeting up, just chillen, having a few drinks and just talking about life and stuff. You are probably one of the realest guys I know out there, and I also look up to your rules of integrity as well. Just hang in there, you’re almost done.
Michelle- one of my favorite dongsengs. Always so busy during the school year. Im so happy we were able to make a little bit of time for one another during our time in korea. I was so proud to hear that you were interning for KBS. You are really coming up! I will be seeing you anchoring in no time soon. You are one of the girls that I can be brutally honest to, and not worry about you judging me or anything. And we have too many damn good times and memories together, do I need to even say?
Charles- kraze burger is the most epic thing ever hahaha. No but frillz I will remember those fries and burgers for the rest of my life. It was great to go out with you and shoot and stuff. Youre one of the chilliest guys I know, and I am constantly inspired by your artwork (even though you let your blog die so many times… hahah). But you really have a great eye for art and you will probably surpass me in photography in no time. I am really glad that we had the opportunity to kick it in korea. We best kick it back in LA too sonnnn yeeeee.
Diana- noona! It was great getting to finally get to know you this summer. Ever since that delicious ass dinner in Apgujung, I have loved seeing your face and just listening what you had to say about traveling and stuff. And thanks a million for that epic things to do in korea list! I checked out so many places and they were so worth it! Although we weren’t able to hang out as much as we could have liked, im sure that I will be seeing you much more soon in Socal.. for however longer you are going to be there ^^
Rachel– Rachel, you are another name that I need to my list of gmail addicts hahaha. Ever since that random email its been nice just chatting with you and even meeting you up in person in korea. It seems like we both have a fancy towards art and fashion, and you always make great and pleasant conversation. I am also more than glad helping you out with photography and stuff like that. You really seem to have an eye for it… you always spot out all these things that I usually overlook. Just like that one picture of the power pole that I took.. it is actually one of my favorites. You and your roomies best cook me food back at LA! 😀
Sorry if I failed to mention anybody here. If your name isn’t included here, it was probably because we didn’t have a photo together. I still love you anyways!