Thursday, 21 January 2010

The world in my shoebox

Multicultural: adj.
1. Of relating to, or including several cultures.
2. Of or relating to a social or educational theory that encourages interest in many cultures within a society rather than in only a mainstream culture.

Having lived in Seoul for just over five months now, I think it's time I shared a little bit about the relationships I've formed here.

I always imagined that moving to a different part of the world would expose me to new cultures, ideas and people, and that I'd eventually make new friends. What I never expected, was to move to a new country, only to connect with people from all ends of the planet.

My journey in Seoul began with a fabulous perk -- a mandatory orientation where 100+ teachers from across the globe had to coexist in a dorm-style facility for just over nine days. When in a situation like that, one is bound to form connections and create relationships based on common interests, goals and backgrounds. You're sort of given instant friends. And that's precisely what happened.

Five months into my stay, I can truly say I've been blessed in that respect. The epiphany hit me a few weeks ago when a few of us gathered at my shoe box for some wine and chit-chat. I had stepped out of the room for a bit, and when I came back in, I couldn't help but pause and look around. There, in my little, dressed-up, Manolo shoe box, sat friends representing various countries such as China, South Africa, Iraq, Columbia, USA, Canada and Korea. We also have a representative from the United Kingdom from time to time, but she was away learning Korean on this particular evening.

I couldn't help but smile.

This is the essence of travel -- stepping out into the wide world and realizing that there's more to life than the status quo. It's about understanding that connections can be formed with people, regardless of language barriers, skin colours or geography.

Dear Readers, I truly wish you could listen in on some of the conversations that take place among us. They're filled with rich stories of culture and days long gone. We talk about values, traditions and our colourful families. One of us even told a story about her grandmother's 'witch' cousin, back home! True story!

All in all, I wouldn't trade any of this for the status quo, because the joy and absolute laughter that bubbles out of my little shoe box on 'wine and chit-chat' nights, is something that I'd like to bottle up and treasure for the rest of my life.

These are some of the simple pleasures that come when traveling with an open mind and an open heart.

Image courtesy of Google Images


  1. UK wasn't there, I was too busy learning the language so I can colonise this penisula!

  2. this must be fate. I love reading of others transplanting themselves all over the globe. the fact that it's another Canadian is all the better!


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