The Meaning of Life: Thoughts from my Semester Abroad

I’ve made my return back to the States and it is good to be back. My trip to Korea was well worth it. I have memories to last a lifetime and made many good acquaintances.

The trip was educational, fun, and exciting. It broadened my perspective on life. Most people would feel the same if they studied abroad, so I encourage more people to do it. Every trip is different and unique in its own way. Mine was defined by the country I chose: Korea.

I chose this country for personal reasons like wanting to know more about my origins, Korea’s culture, language, and society. I didn’t learn as much as I would have liked, especially in terms of the language, but I have no regrets. It really is a precious thing to be able to step outside of one’s own box and see from the outside looking in, which is how I feel right now. I left the US four months ago and now I have returned four months after and the feeling of introspection is coursing through my veins.

I’m appreciating America a lot more now and for some reason I feel a lot more American. I’m sure it has to do with how much I missed this place and how American everyone is, but also I’m realizing this is home for me and a lot more about myself than I thought before the trip is American. But there is that Korean thing.

In an attempt to get to know myself better (and I suppose examining oneself too closely is not against the laws of virtue), I questioned why I am so earnest about my Korean identity. And how and why is it useful for me to hold onto this part of me that is Korean? (I mean, am I not American and are we not in America?) These are tough questions that I may not be ready to answer, but wanting to know one’s origin has always been a quest and an ambition of man (and women alike).

Yes, we are American, but America is filled with diversity and that doesn’t negate cultural and ethnic diversity (in most parts of our country; my heart goes out to the victims of the shooting that took place in South Carolina this week). Diversity enriches our lives. It feeds our beings as humans. It teaches us about who we are and most importantly it teaches us respect for life. This is the most important lesson we need to pass on to our future generations: all life deserves respect and we should have a healthy respect for life.

Humans are about survival, not about divide and conquer as history would like to teach us. And that must be the ultimate lesson that I learned on my trip studying abroad. Life deserves respect and diversity teaches us that. America is lucky. We have an overflowing amount of ethnic/cultural diversity to tap into and learn from. As Rodney King once said: “We should all learn to get along.” It is a global village that we live in nowadays with globalization occurring. We live on a small planet (in relative terms), so the countries that exist are just extended family members of each other.

Whether we are meant to live on for eternity and hold on to the belief of the propagation of man, the future will tell. But the great engineer that masterminded this whole life endeavor I’m sure wanted us to live, learn and get along. To be human is to survive. To survive is living. Living is life. Life presupposes humans. Life, therefore, is the answer to all of the world’s problems. I hate to simplify everything, but I suppose I need to start somewhere. Let’s leave the complications for the scientists! So then, let’s all try to promote life and live prosperously.

Thanks for reading and thanks to SDSU for giving me this one of many opportunities during my years here. Cheers and I’ll be in touch. Yours truly, Douglas.

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