#VUathome: Firsthand Stories from Students and Staff: Hosoo
Welcome to our series of interviews with students and staff, both here in Amsterdam and around the world. Let's find out how they are doing during these challenging times. Today we read the experience of Hosoo, a third-year student currently residing in South Korea.
Hi! My name is Hosoo and I am from Seoul, South Korea. I have been one of the first people who fled back home, since I booked my plane ticket almost as soon as I heard classes were canceled last March. When I recall those days, if feels like everything was so dramatic. South Korea was one of the first countries that had been severely hit by the pandemic, and my parents got really worried when it started to spread in the European continent. I remember my dad booking me a flight, me getting packed and cleaning my room in 5-6 hours, and then running to the airport in less than 12 hours.
Anyways, that is when my unexpected Korean life had started. I am currently in my third year of BA History and International Studies at VU Amsterdam, and before coming to Amsterdam, I had been at another Korean university far away from my hometown, which means that it was my first time in about 5 years to spend more than a month with my family. Online studying in a different time zone was also an extremely new experience for me. Above all, the deadlines were always something super confusing. Especially during the first online period, I had miscalculated the time difference several times and was late for some assignments. Since then, I always have the habit of writing down all the deadlines (based on the Korean time zone) in my diary as soon as the new period starts, which I recommend for most of the international students who are in different time zones.
I do still miss the vibe of the interactive and face-to-face seminars that we used to have during the last 2 years. Having a cup of coffee or beer with some close friends afterschool has also been something that I have been craving the most. My friends and I have been making “virtual” meetings through zoom once in a while, but honestly, I really miss chatting with them in person. The worst fear that I can think of now is that I would have to graduate without being able to see their faces. I really wish the pandemic situation would get settled before July 2021.
Other than that, I have actually been enjoying my new life in Korea. At first, it was quite difficult to arrange things with my parents, since we haven’t lived together for such a long time. But nowadays everything is going very well, and I actually feel quite happy about this unexpected opportunity to spend time with my parents. Also, one of the best things is that I can also spend time with my childhood friends. Even though we were living in the same neighborhood, I would only be able to meet them once or twice a year. This time, I am able to hang out with them for so long, and the best part is that we can gather at someone’s place and study together, everyone taking online lectures from their own universities. These days really remind me of high school when we would study together, eat together, take walks together, and chat for a really long time - our first time in 6 years!
Although I do know that it is definitely a time of uncertainty, with so many people going through difficult times, I am rather trying to turn it into an opportunity for me to spend time with things or people that had been part of the “real me”. It feels like I am really back home, after 5 years of foreign and unfamiliar experiences, with the people who really know who I am and what I like. I am hoping this opportunity will be a time of rest and comfort, recharging me before I start my new stage of life (probably staring my masters).