“Do you want to live in a country where you have been living for your whole life or do you want to live in a different country where you can experience something new?” My mom asked me a few days before my elementary graduation.
My father had been working in Indonesia for seven years. He was having a hard time living alone, so my mother considered moving to Indonesia. Before she made a final decision, she gave me an opportunity to choose between staying in Korea and moving into Indonesia. Struggling back and forth, I considered the advantages and disadvantages of the two options. The advantages of living in Korea were that I could live in a comfortable environment and not worry about communication with foreigners.
On the other hand, the advantages of living in Indonesia were that I can spend more time with my father and can experience new environment and culture. Because the advantages of one option were the disadvantages of the other option, I couldn’t sleep well thinking about this. After a few days of contemplating, I decided to move because I could experience a new culture and environment that I would never be able to experience if I stayed in Korea. After I moved, a challenge was waiting for me: attending an international school. On the first day of school, I neither understood nor could communicate with anyone. Because of this, I lost my confidence in interacting with people, started to regret my decision, and began to isolate myself.
I tried to be friends with only Koreans for they were the only people I could communicate with. However, there was a kind Indonesian friend who approached me on the first day. Even though I couldn’t speak English, she didn’t mind and we used body language to communicate. We always played together after school, and I improved my English by talking with her.
However, I couldn’t get close to other people because my English was still bad. Whenever I see my friend and her friends having a conversation laughing, I felt left out. Because of this feeling of isolation, I got motivated to study English harder.
Not only did I start learning English, but I also started learning Indonesian culture. My friend once introduced me to a restaurant, and she began to use her hands to eat the rice. I was surprised to see this because I always used chopsticks and spoon to eat and Koreans consider eating food with hands as dirty. However, because I was trying to learn the culture, I tried to use my hands to eat.
Even though it was hard to pick up rice at first, I learned to eat rice easily by making a rice ball. Excited that I have learned more about the culture, I told my mother my experience, introduced her to the restaurant, and ate the food with our hands. Stepping outside my bubble, I was able to experience a new world, and this experience led to my love of international relations. If I stayed in Korea, then I wouldn’t have encountered a bigger world, and I wouldn’t have any interest in learning World History and global interaction.
However, as I live in another country, meet with many foreigners, and experience their cultures, my high school history class became more personal; I connected my experience with the information I learned from the class and got curious in the present interaction between people in a bigger world. This curiosity led my interest toward the United Nations because this is where diplomats interact and discuss the international issues. Since then, I began to imagine myself as a member of the United Nations working to solve an international issue.