I’m counting yesterday as a loss.
I arrived in Korea 3 days ago. The first day was spent easily in the company of a good friend whose place I’ll be at saying at for a while. She showed me around Samcheongdong, and we went to a cafe where she likes to study.
It was easy and fun, both relaxing and exciting. But that was due almost entirely to the fact that she lives here, she knows what she’s doing and I got to just follow along.
But now she’s gone for a few days (I’m apartment/cat sitting) and its up to me to figure everything out. And I mean literally everything. You don’t realize how much everything you do everyday is something that you learned to do at some point. Except in our own homes and in our own countries we learn these things over a lifetime, so it’s natural. Not overwhelming.
But in a new country you have to learn all those things all at once. Even really minute details like the way that the doors open is different, the way to take out the garbage is different here, and the things they sell at the convince store are different. And that’s all in addition to the massive language barrier.
And at times it can be a lot to take in. Because just walking outside requires a certain amount of mental effort.
So yesterday I just gave into that. I didn’t feel particularly lonely or sad about not leaving the house, I just really didn’t feel like bothering with how difficult it might be.
That is, of course, completely ridiculous. The whole reason I moved abroad was to experience difficult things, and grow in new ways that I couldn’t back in America.
So yea, I’m counting yesterday as a loss.
But today, today is different. Today I went on an adventure. (I’m using a loose interpretation of the word adventure here. By “adventure” I mean going to meet a friend for dinner and using public transportation to get there.)
I made plans with a friend to have dinner super far away from where I’m staying. I spent a long time trying to search every possible piece of information on the bus and subway routes I would need to get there. I found two places in particular that I wanted to find before I met up with her for dinner at 7:00. The first was a lunch place and the other a coffee shop.
So around 11:30am I left the house to embark on my adventure. I got on the right bus, success, but accidentally got off a stop early. No worries just kept walking until the next stop. I actually caught up with the bus.
Next, get on the subway. Did that successfully. I spent a long time on that line before having to transfer to another line. Transferred successfully only to realize I was on the train going to the opposite direction. Got off and then back on again to the one going the other way and a few stops latter arrived at my destination!
Then it was time to try the first place I was looking for. I walked around for a long time looking for it, and even though I know I was in the right area, I was so hungry at that I decided to call it quits. And in the ultimate embodiment of defeat, I walked into a Dunkin Donuts. The shame was real. But so was the hunger.
So I downed a bacon egg and cheese biscuit and used their wi-fi for bit.
Then it was time to attempt to find the second place. This one a coffee shop. I walked around for a while again and couldn’t find it. Just when I was starting to feel a little helpless I noticed that my map was still showing my location even thought I didn’t have wi-fi. Once I had a sense of where I was, I was able to get going in the right direction again. And this time, I was successful!
Two hours and many mistakes later I was actually able to find somewhere I wanted to go on my own. That shouldn’t be such a huge victory but to me, today, it really was.
Now here I am in that cafe, writing this. One of my friends who I haven’t seen in two years ended up stopping by to study with me. And I never would have been able to see him if I hadn’t kept trying.
So what exactly are the virtues of doing things?
There are many of course, but the ones that I have seen today are these.
Even if you don’t end up where you were meant to go, you will learn something from trying. Now I know how to use the bus by my house and how to get to the closest subway station.
Going outside and being uncomfortable is way more fun than sitting inside with only a cat for company. Sure I was lost and confused but I was lost in the swankiest area of Seoul with tons of pretty buildings and people to look at.
If you take the chance you might end up getting more than you even expected. I thought I was going to get to see one familiar face today, but I actually got two! I can’t explain how awesome that is, and how lucky I feel to be able to experience that while abroad.
The point is that there is always virtue in doing something rather than nothing.
So here’s hoping that was my first and last day not leaving the house. Because what waits outside is too good to miss out on. Even if it’s just the fresh air.
Thanks for reading.