Now, more than three months after my global exploration project, I have this to say to the readers of the Sookmyung Times "Don't hesitate, just do it." When you're not sure if you're interested in something or not, or if you're worried about whether you'll be good at it, I recommend just doing it. If you're on the fence about whether to do something, I'd say it's always worth it, even if you regret it. As I did, you'll find that you're good at something you thought you weren't, and you'll discover a side of yourself you never knew existed!
What I need is courage
My three days at the University of Reading were a great opportunity to see the inside of a British university, to get a feel for the laid-back, relaxed pace of England, and to learn about close reading. Close reading is an activity that analyzes words, sentences, and pictures, which I had never done in Korea. The university was about a 30–40-minute walk from where I stayed, so it was nice to be able to walk to school, and the fact that I could walk to school with trees by the side of roads wider than in Korea made my steps lighter. My classroom was located on the first floor, with a window that allowed us to feel the gentle breeze. It seemed like a scene from a movie, and it was romantic because it was the kind of European classroom I had always imagined. In terms of classes, I liked that there was more discussion and thinking than lectures from the professors. I've always been a person who likes to discuss and share opinions, so I liked this method of teaching. However, when nine out of ten people are saying the same thing, I don't have the confidence to say something different. Through this process, I found myself used to the Korean way of teaching, and I made a promise to myself to have the courage to voice my opinion more. I also wished that I could have a class like this in Korea, where we could discuss and analyze every detail of the work.
Am I allowed to be this happy?
For about eight days, I really didn't waste any time, and just went from place to place, trying to take everything in that England has to offer. Overall, I think the places that impressed me the most were Kensington Palace, the West End, and the Roald Dahl Museum. First of all, Kensington Palace looked like something out of a movie, with grassy lawns glistening in the sunlight, tree-lined paths, and a lake shimmering like glass. I was more impressed with the paths leading up to the palace than I was with the palace itself, and it was a site where I could forget all my worries and feel happy in an open space. Needless to say, the West End made me want to return to England. The passion of the actors, the atmosphere of the theater, and the magnificent songs reminded me of what I love. Actually, in the case of the Roald Dahl Museum, I was impressed not so much by the museum as by the market in front of it, the conversations with the locals, and the coloring activity like glass deco in Korea that started with an invitation from a kind lady in front of a church. It was amazing to see that people of all races, languages, and ages could laugh and talk together, and it reminded me that learning is not just about studying. For me, visiting Britain was a dreamlike experience that made me feel like I was in a movie. I realized that happiness is not big activities, but rather a feeling of gratitude and contentment that can be derived from the small things around us.
An unforgettable life musical that sent shivers
Seeing the musical Les Misérables was a life-changing experience for me. I have always loved musical movies and songs, especially the musical movie Les Misérables, which I have watched more than 10 times. However, I didn't have the opportunity to see the English version of the musical in Korea, and I wasn't willing to spend so much money to see it. After seeing the musical in the West End, I spent the whole day thinking that I was glad I came to England. The other activities were a lot of fun, but it was the musical that made me feel alive. I still can't get over the non-stop, tumultuous melodies, the props that change according to the scenes, the magnificent vocalizations and performances of the actors, and the harmonies that accompany them. It's hard to describe the feeling of power, grandeur, and immersion that a musical can give me that a movie cannot. For me, the West End was the best part of my five days in London, and I can't wait to visit the UK again and see it from the front row. It was the musical that rejuvenated my tired and exhausted life.
Do what I like and what I want!
Living in the UK was a time for me to find "what makes me smile." As the Korean team leader of the group, I had a lot to think about, so the location had changed, but the busy and hectic life was the same as in Korea. With 14 different voices, nightly meetings, and communication, I was constantly occupied by the group. However, there were things that made my heart flutter and my eyes sparkle. Sitting in a café sipping a hot vanilla latte and watching the grass glisten in the morning sun, leisurely strolling the lawns of Kensington Palace and imagining myself in a movie, meeting up with a group of friendly church people for a coloring activity — all of these things made me happy. I think it was at this time that I realized that I could wear a relaxed smile. I had never felt this relaxed happiness in Korea, but in England, I was able to discover what I like by walking a lot and doing things. I think all of this comes from being able to relax and take it easy. It's a happiness that comes from not living in a time crunch and thinking about and enjoying the now, not the later. I hope that everyone who reads this article will live a life for the present "you" rather than the future "you." As I said at the beginning, I hope that you will take a step forward by taking on challenges without hesitation and discovering yourselves beyond your expectations. This is because you have infinite potential to overcome your shortcomings and highlight your strengths better than you think. I believe that the more you tackle the things we think we can't do, the things we think we're not good at, and the things we think we're not confident in, the more our 20s will shine.