As a careful, organised, and meticulously scheduled person, there was a time where I would regularly turn down new things and unplanned events – I would say no a lot more than I would say yes. It was much easier that way. No need to panic, no need to worry about the consequences.
However, things have changed now…
Here’s a little bit about my backstory and some of the turning points that have led me to becoming more open-minded.
When I was 13, my mom asked me if I would like to go and study in Canada. I said no, absolutely not. I was afraid to try new things, and I was comfortable with my life. I had never thought of living abroad. It wasn’t for me.
When I was 17, my mom asked me if I would like to go and study in India. I said no. Again, this decision was easier for me.
At this point, I should explain that my mom wasn’t trying to get rid of me (I hope), she was just trying to give me a better, more balanced education. Korean education is very intense, and kids are worked harder in Korea than anywhere else in the world. Yet, Korean qualifications do not seem to match up to British A-levels, or degrees, etc.
Despite knowing this, I kept on saying ‘no’ to new opportunities.
My mom then gave me a final offer. I could choose either India, or South Africa – she just didn’t want me studying in the Korean education system.
As you might imagine, I panicked. Using arbitrary generalisations, I thought that India would be better than Africa – it’s closer, and slightly less poor (silly, I know). So I thought, why not… let’s just go to India.
It turns out that a 17-year-old Asian girl’s knowledge wasn’t all that good. To her, India was all about curry, poverty, cows on the street, and hot weather.
It was a tough life in India. I couldn’t speak English well when I arrived, and everything was so different to Korea, but it was one of the most amazing experiences I have had in my life, and it’s made me who I am today: less scared, less judgmental, and more open-minded.
Living and studying in India has made me want to go and study more somewhere else, want to experience different cultures, want to work in different environments with different people.
I am quite lucky to be who I am. If I had said ‘no’ 10 years ago, then I wouldn’t be where I am today.
It might bring surprises, it might bring some challenges, it might be something you never thought of doing – but you live just once, so just go for it. If you love it? That’s fabulous! If you don’t like it? At least you can say you have experienced it.
Written by Yujin Marsden, Accounts Assistant at Now
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