So I believe I mentioned in my previous post about me being in a foreign land now. And I also mentioned that I will talk about it “next time”. So here it is, folks.
Couple months back, I doodled this on my neat personal journal:
It reads: “THERE ARE FAR, FAR BETTER THINGS AHEAD THAN ANY WE LEAVE BEHIND. -C.S. LEWIS”. Yes, that amazing author who brought us The Chronicles of Narnia.
Anyway, why did I write that? Well, at that time, I was about to do a big move in my life, and I was very very scared. I got admitted in a graduate degree program (yes, I know, I just finished my Masters in Finance last year, but please, let’s ignore that fact for a moment because this second Masters will be…) in the Land of the Morning Calm, South Korea!
It was a rare opportunity, and I already made the decision to change countries (in case I get admitted) the moment I submitted my application form to this awesome university in the city of Ulsan. I was aware then that this will not be just a new adventure, or a fun fun time for me (since I really love South Korea), because I will also be facing a lot of challenges. And I am not even talking about the academics (yet) – because I know that the academic side is the “fun” kind of challenge, since I believe the program is hardcore, and awesome, and I really really want to learn the curriculum.
So anyway, I submitted my application around October-ish of 2014, and I am expecting the result to be in by January of 2015. So, being the “planner” that I usually am, I was very anxious at the start of the year because I could not plan my 2015 just yet. I was still waiting for the life-changing result of my application which would spell out how my 2015 should look like. You see, normally, during the Christmas-New Year season I usually spend a lot of time with my ‘new’ planner trying to project how my year SHOULD look like. But last year-end, I found it extra challenging because of the ‘pending’ admission results. Which obviously would determine which of the two very different 2015s will be in store for me. SO… to end my anxiety, without ignoring the conditionality of my situation, I made this diagram on how my year SHOULD look like:
ECTFE is the acronym of the program I applied for. It means Energy Commodity Trading & Financial Engineering. So, the very trigger of how I would face 2015 is whether I get admitted to the program or not. If you look at the right side of the diagram, it outlines my Plan B. It will be a big heartache if I did not get admitted, hence I need a solid Plan B to keep me going… hence, I had to achieve a PRM certification plus at least one (or maybe two?) CFA exam. Blah blah blah… anyway, I’m getting bored trying to discuss the flowchart. It is self-explanatory anyway, so I’ll just stop.
Bottomline, I got admitted into the program, and here I am now, in the beautiful city of Ulsan in South Korea!
So anyway, I was able to obtain a student visa (the first challenge, per my diagram above). YAY!
And off I went to South Korea! At the very last day of February, just one day after my last day at work, and two days away from the first day of classes. Whew! What a whirlwind of big big changes – resignation, farewells, and a new beginning – in just one weekend! I still could not believe how all of that happened, and I’m still in one piece afterwards.
Anyway, I entered Korea via Incheon (and not Busan, where Ulsan is supposed to be nearer to), a much more familiar trip, via a much cheaper flight. My good friend Dale fetched me at the airport and helped me with my luggage. I also had a small window to catch the cheapest bus trip to Ulsan from Seoul Station, hence, I really need someone to help me drag my things and find my way through the web-like subway system of Seoul.
When I arrived in Ulsan, I was surprised to see how big the city actually is. I thought it will just be a suburb or something. Luckily, my Korean friend Taegill arranged for his friend (who I have not yet met before, and who resides in Ulsan) to meet me at the bus terminal in Ulsan.
To say that this guy was so kind would be an understatement. So, he and his wife and two cute kids fetched me from the bus terminal. Weeks before I arrived, they scouted the city to find me a cheap room where I can stay while I study. So, I only expected them to just fetch me at the bus terminal and drive me to the room that they found. However, I was grossly wrong.
They instead took me to a nice restaurant where we had a sumptuous dinner. I’m guessing Taegill told them that I don’t eat vegetables, so they ordered a “meat-ful” dinner for me, which by the way is not cheap here in Korea.
And then the kindness did not end there. They had me over in their cozy home, and gave me a warm bed to sleep on for the night. Me! A stranger they barely know. They invited me to sleep in their house, after doing a lot of favor for me. Also, before we hit the sack that night, they politely asked me to join them watching some kind Korean TV show while having drinks and evening snacks. And since I don’t drink beer, they gave me some wine, much to my embarrassment because I know that beers are big in Korea.
When I woke up the next day, the guy’s wife cooked us a lovely breakfast, and then we took off. They drove me to my place, and they even bought me A LOT of stuff that they realized I would need. I can’t believe the amount of blessings I have been getting from this nice family. I hope I can return the gesture someday. Really.
They surely are a lovely family. I hope and pray that God will give them so many blessings. I don’t know how I would survive without their help.
By the way, did I mention that before they took off, we drove to my campus, so that I can see it before D-Day and get a feel of the trip to school. They also pointed me to the right bus stop and told me the correct bus that I should get on. What a generous family!
So anyway, I am now living in a small room. It is actually very small that it only fits one bed, a desk, and a chair. But it is all I ever needed and it is all I can afford anyway. The toilet and bathroom is shared, but that is perfectly fine. I will have less privacy, but on the other hand, someone readily cleans the toilet and bath for the tenants. Also, there is a common kitchen, with (read) FREE RICE. Gosh! I will not even wonder if I get fat here.
Anyway, let me show you some photos of my amazing university.
Seriously, I feel SOOOOOO privileged to be here.
I had a rough 2014, and this is what I get in 2015! In the words of Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis, THIS IS MY NOW.
…and I am breathing in the moment
As I look around I can’t believe the love I see
Thank you so much, Lord, for all your blessings. I will do my best to maximize my experience here and come out as a much-improved individual.