I was cleaning my old college files when I stumbled upon a reflection paper that my Communications professor asked us to write after watching A Walk to Remember. Though I can vaguely recall what I wrote, I felt that the what I have learned from the movie stayed with me until now. Then I realized that I needed to do my own reflection of the Korea trip before it was long gone. So I asked myself, did I bring home anything special aside from the boxes of Pepero? What has changed since I came back?
In the few days that I spent in Korea, I felt that I have matured so much. I guess that’s what traveling does to a person – you become a more responsible and dependable person when you’re in an unfamiliar territory and you try to take in all the new things around you. I have learned that while we see ourselves as grown ups, we still have a lot to learn – from the people we travel with, the strangers we meet on the road, the simple reminders we see as we tour the city and the simple adventures and misadventures we encounter everyday. These life lessons, no matter how big or small, made us better individuals.
So what have I learned from the Land of Kimchi and Kpop Idols?
Koreans made me realize that while we embrace the ever-changing world and modernization, we can still preserve our history and culture. That in the vast horizon, the old and new can co-exist and prosper together. Everland reminded me that while we drive our selves harder with work everyday, it is not a crime to relax and enjoy life. We all deserve to have fun and to forget our worries even for a while. Life is short and we have to make the most out of it. The Snow park was like our teachers when they used to tell us to never be afraid to try something new and to fail. It taught me to be brave. While it may be our first time to try skiing, and falling and crashing were inevitable, we faced those fears and went on. We fell but we stood up again, determined to do better. We had our new-found courage within. Those love locks in Namsan taught me to continue hoping and believing. That any kind of love can weather storms and changing seasons as long as you hold on to each other. They taught me to believe that someday soon, I will find that person holding the keys to my heart.
This trip has taught me to embrace life’s imperfections. I knew deep inside that I was an oc-traveler. I kept on researching about the transportation system, the must-see places, the weather, and everything I thought I needed to know before the trip. But then again, I found myself lacking. My thermal wears were not enough for the cold weather, we almost missed a train station exit, we got lost while looking for a shop. Those moments however bonded our group and made us trust and depend on each other. I would never replace those misadventures with a perfect ‘run’ because we would have missed all the fun. Lastly, this trip taught me to never be afraid of taking a leap of faith – if I chickened out and never tried applying for a visa and if we did not book the tickets during the seatsale, I would have never met the amazing individuals I met through this trip.
To My Snowvivor Korea Peeps
You see, I really cannot remember when I began referencing our blogposts from movie titles. Maybe because I felt like I was in a movie during the whole trip. Hello Stranger perhaps – Thais (Now Filipinos) who went to Korea, met by accident and eventually fell in love with each other? No, not really. I did not find my Love from the Star in Korea. I would like to believe that this was my own Windstruck story – did you watch that Jang Hyuk and Jun Ji Hyun film? Meeting a person or people who we feel we have a certain connection with? Like they were always beside us and have been a part of our life? I felt that way actually. In this trip, I met people who I felt like I’ve known them before. There was a connection – Hi Gayle! It’s amazing to meet someone who understands why I love Kpop a lot. Some of my friends were freaking out whenever I am fangirling. I felt normal talking to you about SNSD and SM Ent. Shie, ang galing talaga, pareho tayo ng first name – Shiela Marie. It’s rare that I meet someone with the same spelling as my first name. Laging baliktad yung i at e. Mark, who would have thought that we’ll see each other again after probably 8 years? Not in the halls of Kalayaan but in Korea. To the rest Tyx, Stef, Kath and Phoebe na rin, I was not really a fan of group tours as I feel more adventurous when I travel on my own but you changed that perspective. Our short travel together across Indochina and the continuous communication in viber made me feel that I have a new set of friends in you. Now I realize why that commercial tagline of a certain airline kept playing on my mind. I was reminded of the wonderful memories and life lessons that I have learned from the people I met through Travel Factor. Truly, “journeys are made by the people you travel with”. To Melvin, you’ve been my constant travel buddy and you’ve kept up with my tantrums so well (thanks!) – I knew the moment we agreed that we both love Westlife that you are for keeps. No more editing of pictures, please?
I couldn’t believe that our Korean adventure has come to an end. Like a movie screening that has just finished its last full show. As one movie ended, it was being replaced by another. Did it perform better than the others? Will people remember the scenes, actors and lines right after? I had the same feelings while I was on the 4 hour plane ride back home. Will the people I traveled with remember how we bore the freezing weather in Korea, how we searched for nice dining and coffee spots, how we invaded Nami Island and gamely posed for the cameras, how we walked the streets of Myeongdong and Insadong looking for souvenirs to bring home, how we braved the roller coasters in Everland and how we learned to ski, fell and went back up again to finish with a good form? Most importantly, will they remember me? This trip may not be the box-office hit like Indochina but it surely reaped a lot of awards and will stay in my memory and heart even after the curtain closes and all we can see are rolls of films and empty memory cards. While there is an uncertainty of a sequel, I would like to believe that there would be and there will be many reruns and replays even on national tv. Kamsahamnida!