절대 난 돌아보지 않겠어 (oh-oh, oh-oh, yeah)

앞만 보기도 시간은 짧아 (yeah!)

Step it up, step it up 다시 시작이야

/I will never look back again (oh-oh, oh-oh, yeah)

Time is already short even if I only look forward (yeah!)

Step it up, step it up, it’s the beginning again/

-KARA, <Step>

To the dismay of myself and probably the 360 International team, I have been slacking off greatly in my blog writing, which was certainly not my intention. But I am now back and back with a less sad-sounding song, chosen to match the prosperous spirit of the Chinese Lunar New Year, which has since passed. It is now Valentine’s Day as I write this. So as an adaptive and versatile person, Happy Valentine’s day <333

As time continues to charge a few too many steps ahead of me, I am now counting down to the last week or so of my time in Korea. Between now and my previous blog entry, I have travelled outside of Seoul to the wonderful cities of Busan and Jeonju, which have both been trips that I will treasure for life. But it was also both these trips that cemented my unwavering dislike of the seemingly endless flights of stairs in South Korea.

There are stairs in subway stations, down shops, up apartments, and most annoyingly, in front of my dorm, which has lovingly earned me the title of “Kid who lives at the mountaintop” from my friend. But as I think more about these stairs and the steps I took on them, the more I see it as a lovely little metaphor for my time here. 

To provide more context, there are two ways to get back to the dorm from the nearest train station. One way is to walk up the dreaded stairs mentioned above, or you could take the sloped path that wraps around the hill instead. During my time here, I have only taken the sloped path three times, the first time, the time I returned from Busan, and the time I returned from Jeonju. Besides those instances, I have been a devoted stair-stepper even though it leaves me gasping for breath every single time.

The reason why I like the stairs is that you can see directly ahead of the dorm at the top. But the reason why I choose it almost every time is more that. Beyond the fact that I like what this route offers me, I choose this route because I know I can make it up there 100%. Although it is an exhausting experience going up those stairs every time, I know I can do it. So every time before the stairs, rather than worrying about how much pain my legs will be in eventually, I just brace myself and take my first step.

And I think any shakiness to this “I can do it” mentality is what makes taking the next step agonizing. Instead of preparing for what is ahead, you fall back into worries and doubts, which seems like an inevitable part of studying aboard. However, if we lean back further to the stairs analogy, every step of the stairs can be the place for one to rest, prepare, and brace oneself for the next one. Even if the previous one were a struggle, the next one would always be a new start.

So, as I shakily brace myself for my remaining steps in Korea, I am still very excited about every new possibility ahead. And with the experiences I gain from every step I have taken, I step forward to the next with more confidence.

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