I’m sitting in a cosy cafe near Pusan National University and I can’t quite believe it’s already Day 10 of my South Korea trip.
It awes me that I’ve been going around the same country but each place holds an identity of its own, away and separate from its neighbours. Each has its ups and downs, and all with a charm that have taken me off guard.
I’ve got to be honest – prior to this trip, I knew nuts about Korea. It was a country and culture I’ve had little to no interest in, and I did not quite understand the hype of Kpop and Kdrama. I’d chosen to travel to Korea because a very dear friend had just moved to Busan to teach, and I wanted to visit her. It’s been 2 years since we last saw each other, when we completed our student exchange programme in the University of Manchester.
I came with no expectations and an open heart (& quite a bit of fear), and that had made all the difference.
Everything I have experienced so far have endeared this country to me, and I have been pleasantly surprised many times throughout the course of the past ten days.
In a country where the people I encounter on a daily basis mostly do not converse in nor comprehend the English language, I have once again learnt that the language of the hands, eyes and heart still trumps all.
We’re all trying to navigate our way through the human experience, to understand the experiences that we’ve been placed through, to accept our emotions and our flaws, and to allow ourselves the permission to grow.
At the end of the day, we’re all just trying to live life the best way we can, the way we know how, and to induce as much meaning into our daily lives as possible.
I have also been reminded time and time again that I am not alone in this journey. Amongst other things, He has sent me people to help and guide me along the way. You see, I prefer to stay away from the busy city centers when I’m travelling so that I’m able to have my space and have a taste of being a resident. More often than not though, that means winging it and navigating my own way around. But ah, like my dad always says, “Takpe, Allah jaga.” (Don’t worry, God shall take care of you.) I have met so many beautiful souls who have helped me gain my footing every single time I’ve had to uproot myself and find myself in a new environment.
It has been a highly reflective journey, and many times I’ve found myself in need to stop in my tracks and write down the Aha! moments.
It can get quite overwhelming at times, and I ocassionally question why I do the things I do.
I then keep reminding myself this, one of my greatest takeaways from the Stories of the Prophets Class: Allah first mentioned humans as khalifahs (or vicegerents) on Earth, in His meeting with the angels, before calling us His servants. As khalifahs, we have responsibilities to uphold, and journeys to undertake. So the question is – how are we upholding this position and honour during our time on Earth?
We’re all given our different sets of blessings – tools to help us in our roles and duties. We need to recognise and use them in the best manner possible. This is my way, and it can be very well different or similar to other people. It does ‘t matter – what matters is we use the blessings well.
May we always use these blessings with dignity, for the betterment of the world we live in, and for His sake. May He keep us away from using His blessings in arrogance and to create discord amongst ourselves. And may He never leave us to our own affairs without His mercy and guidance.
I am not better than any of you, or you to me. We are all equals, with our own set of blessings. Let’s all make it together.
It’s been quite a journey, and it’s not ending anytime really soon. I hope I’ll keep writing.
To many more adventures and surprises, Korea!