The weeks leading up to my stay in Sydney was a complete chaotic windmill of anxiety. And considering my innate tendency to hide all feelings inside, everyone - my family, friends, professors - had no idea. More than anything, there was this overarching pressure that this all had to be done on my own - and will on my own be enough?
In retrospect, there was really no need for the weeks of suffocating peril (I was really, really nervous). Because the moment I arrived in Sydney, things changed.
(And here comes a lengthy diary entry, sorry.)
No, I was not greeted at the airport with dancing, grinning helpers ready to fly me right to Yura Mudang and stay by me 24/7 until I felt right at home. In fact, I had a severe food poisoning + air motion sickness combo that haunted me for the first five days. But I wasn’t moping, or in any particular bad mood. The reception was bafflingly welcoming and the security on duty especially was so considerately casual. It gave me flashbacks to my elementary school teachers, sans the obvious adult to child dynamic. And once arriving to the orientation, I was greeted by a shy girl (just like me) who asked to sit next to me and then introduced me to her fellow friends. Then soon after I met another lovely friend who came up to me to talk about my clothes (I got complimented by a fashion major!), and she was so friendly and quick to promise to meet up again (swearing on her local expertise to take me to a good place to eat), I was a little overwhelmed - in a good way.
To be honest that was one of the hardest parts of settling down in Sydney. In Korea, when strangers, we pass each other. When strangers who live in the same building, we greet each other with the some form of a bow or nod, but rarely do we have the luxury of even smiling at each other much less ask about our days. But that was exactly what the majority of the people in Sydney were like (well, those I’ve met at least). I’d often forget that I could smile and say hi to someone I didn’t know. At first, it was tiring, to remember that people here weren’t as private and didn’t have the ultimate, mind-your-own-business mentality, but eventually I think that small undercurrent of geniality eased me enough to realize I can be just me.
It might sound strange to take that small minuscule habit and blow it up to be some sort of security blanket, but it worked that way for me. I’m not really of the night scene. I prefer talking with friends at a nice place over going to parties. I’m the textbook definition of the introvert that loves sitting at cafés to read/write, video chatting with old friends across the globe, spacing out at the pretty interior UTS buildings have (my favorite is Building 11), and wandering wherever around the city, solo, on the weekends. That general notion of - Hey, you do you, and you’re still your own person (no one has the right to judge) - was a bit, kind of, really liberating. So I guess I’m saying - for anyone planning their way here from somewhere far and different - it’s going to be fine, no matter what type of social kid you are.
Hyunna (Wook Hyun) Yoo
Visual Communications (Engineering and Information Technology)
Techno Art Division at Yonsei University, South Korea