Why it pays to regret over something.
Do I regret something? Of course I do. It would be totally weird if one says that one does not regret anything. Top of my mind right now, I regret being where I am right now. Had I been a bit more patient, I could have (emphasise on the ‘could have’) been in the Netherlands. What? How?
Okay, here’s the gist. I failed my first attempt on a scholarship back in 2013, by a mere 2 points. I need two more points to actually score a chance to be interviewed and most of the time once you get interviewed you are as good as getting the scholarship. But, I failed. I did not get the chance to be interviewed just because I did not get that one last extra two points. I was devastated; I was a 100% sure I was going to nailed the test.
Knowing that I need to think fast, I apply for the next best scholarship chance. It was never my plan to study to South Korea; I literally have zero interest and knowledge about South Korea, but I decided I need a scholarship so bad and they’re offering one of the major of my interest. But, here’s a plot twist (not!), I failed the scholarship also. I lost it to my own boyfriend! Ugh! The anger and the feeling of wanting to be happy for him is colliding.
So, when 2014 finally came around, I was busting myself up to apply for another scholarship. I was not going to waste another year staying back home and passing up the chance to go and study. At that time I already turn my back on going to school in the UK; my sister went to the UK somewhere in 2013 and I was not going to go to the same country as she is (we have spent too much time by going to the same school since Primary School). I set my eyes on the Netherlands; I found a university that offers a major of my interest, and according to both a senior of mine at work and my boyfriend’s mum, the university is a good one and that program is highly sought out.
As I was preparing and submitting some of the requirements to the said school, the same South Korean scholarship was opened again. I thought, maybe I could also apply to South Korea. That could be my plan B if I failed my scholarship application to the Netherlands, besides my boyfriend said that the scholarship was not bad and the stipend is more than one could ask for.
Turns out, my South Korean application moved a LOT faster than my Netherland application; a LOT faster, as in it only took about six months altogether for them to inform me that I got the scholarship and I would be expected to be in South Korea in a month time. I honestly don’t know what to make of that information; on one side I am ecstatic that I finally got a scholarship and that I could possibly gloat about it in front of my dad, but on the other side I don’t really want to go to South Korea. After much consideration, I decided to take the South Korean scholarship. Three of the contributing factors were, (1) I can’t stay in my job for any longer, I have to take a leave, (2) the stipend was very enticing, and (3) I cannot postpone going to school for another year.
So, in August of 2014, I left for South Korea. And although I was not instantly excited about life in South Korea, I tried my best to adapt and enjoy it. At first, it was easy, because it was all I ever wanted since 2013; I have always wanted to study abroad without the help of money from my dad, and I got it. After awhile, it dawned on me that I had made a huge mistake in regards to my future, and I probably would regret it for the rest of my life.
I hated the major that I chose. That was the first tell tale sign that I am on my way down to destruction; that and coupled with the fact that I was jealous of my friends who went abroad for school and looked as if they had a good time. I looked at them and thought to myself that it could have been me had I been patient enough and pursue my application to the Netherlands. God, I hate myself for not pushing myself harder. I could have been in The Netherlands, studying the stuff that I actually want to study.
But don’t get me wrong; even though there were times when I regret my decision coming to South Korea, thankfully it didn’t really determine how I live my life here. I do still get jealous of my friends, but I also should be proud of myself; not only do I get a chance to study something new for my Master’s, I actually have evolved from an illiterate foreigner to a literate one. Put it this way, I came to South Korea with zero knowledge of South Korea, zero knowledge of Hangeul (Korean alphabet), zero knowledge of its language (apart from what I saw on Korean music videos and dramas); fast forward to two months after I came to South Korea, I can read and I can write in Hangeul! I may not be able to converse fluently in Korean, but I sure damn can read, write, and understand Korean enough to survive on a daily basis.
Being in South Korea taught me a lot of things; I used to think that living abroad is nice and ideal, but it’s only ideal and nice if you go to countries you are most familiar with. I’ve never been to a country like South Korea before, I’ve always been to countries where I am already accustomed with its food, language, or culture; being in South Korea, neither of those three are familiar to me. The first few months in South Korea was close to living in hell for me; I do not speak a single Korean except for saying hello and thank you and I rarely met people who speaks English. Eventually I have grown accustomed to its language, culture, food and everything that is deemed necessary to survive in South Korea; that is one of the greatest learning experience that I got from living here. Had I been to the UK or the Netherlands, I would have not learn anything new, for I was so used to the life there (I would not say I have master the art of living in the UK and the Netherlands, but since I spent some parts of my childhood there, it would have not been an entirely new experience like what I experienced when I live in South Korea).
What I’m trying to say is that it’s all right to regret some of decisions you make in life, because when you regret something, it gives you the time to contemplate about it and learn from it. At least that’s how it is for me. What I learn about my regret coming to South Korea was (1) indeed, patient is always a virtue, (2) when it comes to education, there’s no such thing as a wrong choice; you’ll always end up with learning something new and at the end of the day that’s the important thing, (3) regrets can only consume you if you let it only be a regret, if you rise above your regret you’ll see that it’s not always that bad because you’ll end up with a lesson learned, and (4) I have a special niche of actually going to school to South Korea where there are still a few of those in my office, and I like being a niche.
Don’t shy away from feeling regrets; it’s not always bad. It’ll push you to do better in the future, because you’ve learned from your regrets.