On Feeling Feelings and Comfort Things Pt. 1

My time in Korea marks my first long term trip abroad, so naturally I expected to feel lots of feelings and miss things from home. At the end of my first week here in Goesan, I was confronted with a collision of homesickness, anxiety, and stress.

This whole homesickness thing is really compounded with social stress and anxiety that comes with being in a group of 70 really diverse and really accomplished people.

From my summer research experience into my senior year of college I became more used to being surrounded by accomplished mathematicians/physicists/chemist/researchers. Whether it be their sheer smarts in their STEM field or winning Goldwaters, I became used to not being able to follow proofs or calculations. Now I'm surrounded by really intelligent people who can speak about a range of topics that I may have only ever been briefly introduced to. While before it felt like numbers getting thrown at me, now it feels like conversations and concepts that get me thinking on a cultural or social level. Some days I do struggle with feeling inadequate to their accomplishments even though I know that comparisons cannot be made. And some days, most days, I miss being with my numbers and textbooks. I even almost miss proofs.

I also feel like I need to find my person in orientation. I sit in these workshops and listen to ETAs talk about how they have their travel buddy, or some best friend, who was their support system or .... their person (I can't think of a better definition than Meredith/Cristina)! So I spend time thinking who my person might be or if I've met them yet. It's totally irrational to think that way. I mean, it took my how many years to find my people in the States, how could I find those same relationships in 6 weeks?

There's also this anxiety and stress surrounding my placement and my potential host family. I'm by no means killing it in my Korean language. It almost feels like I'm a disappointment to my Korean teachers because I don't know any Korean or Japanese. Which has me thinking and worrying about the "American" that my host family, if I get one, is expecting. They're definitely not expecting an average Asian American girl from Minnesota.

To combat these feelings of "who am I" and whatever, I made a playlist of my favorite songs from concerts in Minnesota. I've been listening to them on repeat lately and dreaming about cheese curds and grilled cheese. One saving grace has been a fellow ETA, Alicia, who went to the University of Minnesota and lived in the Cedar Riverside Neighborhood. We both are pining for some Afro Deli.

So, to all my readers in Minneapolis, please go eat some sambusa for me. For all my readers in the midwest, go eat some cheese curds (deep fried). For all the Minnesotans out there, if you don't go to the State Fair and eat many foods on sticks, I will weep into my kimchi at Jungwon University in Goesan, South Korea.


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