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Contestants' Essay - 1st Place

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작성자 최고관리자 작성일20-06-10 10:53 조회696회 댓글0건

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My Little “Big Steps” Around the World

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Our world is so big because it is meant for traveling. Growing up in Korea, a small country in Asia, my parents planned trips abroad now and then. Honestly, when I was little, I did not enjoy going on trips because of the long boring flights and uncomfortableness of sleeping somewhere other than my bed. However, as I grew older, I began to see more in these trips. Although I felt like I wasn’t absorbing any of the new things “at that moment,” I became grateful for the assistance that these experiences gave me throughout my life. This changed me from simply a family member going on family trips to someone I can now proudly call “a traveler.” Traveling provides moments that can be cherished: the scent I smell as I get off the plane, the atmosphere I feel, the whole new place I see in front of me. These unforgettable memories act as an inspiration and driving force of my life in whatever form though I might not acknowledge it upon the instant. The experience from my travels to America, Vietnam, and the Czech Republic brought me more than just pleasure, (1) helped me form my values and attitude towards life, (2) gave me the courage to break my preconception, in fact, the misconception that a successful life is a “life in the fast lane,” and (3) further guided me in cultivating my direction of life outside my former boundaries.

My first flight was to Long Island, NY, when I was three years old, due to my father’s career. At such a young age, I was able to pick up English naturally without any additional effort. In the town that our family newly adapted to, the study atmosphere was not intense. Unlike Korea, students were not pressured to get supplementary education from private institutions, however, that is not to say, some students fell behind. This is because teachers taught with an understanding of the learning pace of each student. Thanks to this, although it was difficult to catch up with the class at first, I gradually gained confidence and entertainingly studied with my friends. Also, non-subject activities were regarded as important as curriculum activities. Rather than sitting in one seat for the whole school day, we had fun activities in between that required running around, making crafts, and singing. Out of awareness, this free and comfortable environment that I was exposed to during my childhood led a young “me,” to a “somebody that could express her own opinions and emotions without hesitation or being shy.” On top of that, diverse races, gender identities, and values are embraced in America. Although I was not educated at school in specific to respect diversity, I steadily learned how to exchange and communicate with diverse people. Like this, my personality and values that were formed during my childhood in the US have given me an open and active attitude towards life. 

The second memorable trip was to the Czech Republic during my junior year of high school. Back then, because it was such an important time for my university entrance, I was overwhelmed with the pressure of my studies, both mentally and physically. Thus, when my parents suggested going on a vacation to catch my breath for a few days, I was reluctant to accept their suggestion. This time just did not seem like “the right time” to leave my desk, especially when my ideal life was one in which I would enter a prestigious university and work hard and fierce to find a position in a major company. However, as I came across people that were leisurely drinking wine and stopping for a moment to enjoy the street music, this served as a turning point in rebuilding my conception that an easy-going life is a worthy life as well and it is “okay” not to live so intensely. Traveling to the Czech Republic, a laid-back world, gave me a breadth of mind and I allowed me to release the stress that was pulling me down at the moment.

After receiving my acceptance letter from college, I applied for childcare volunteering in Vietnam through an international volunteer travel company. As it was my first time traveling abroad by myself, I boarded the plane full of anxiety. However, with making constant trials and fearlessly facing errors, I was able to, step by step, develop the ability to make my own decisions and have a sense of responsibility for them. In addition, I met a group of different people from markedly differing backgrounds. A lot of them were students like myself, however, it was surprising to find out that they were all international students attending school away from their home country. The reason behind their study abroad was because they figured that foreign universities could provide better education and future opportunities in their field of interest. This made me rethink my past thoughts formed during my adolescence with no international students around me. Consequently, I was encouraged to step outside my comfort zone questioning myself on things like, “Why have I never attempted in finding a university abroad that had programs of my interest?” or “Why have I never dreamt of performing in a bigger world?” In other words, friends from different backgrounds that I met in Vietnam led me to illustrate my orientation in life past my original pursuit.

In conclusion, through the aforementioned three experiences in America, the Czech Republic, and Vietnam, not only has it formed my view of life, but it has challenged myself to look beyond my biased thoughts of a “successful life.” Ultimately, I have become capable of finding my direction in life, making a big “brave step” towards the future I dream of. Without these experiences, I cannot explain the person I have become today. In this sense, I am grateful for what these travels around the world have given me. With this priceless gift, I can proceed with my unknown future in new environments: not with fear but with pleasure.

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