Having lived in South Korea, India, Spain and the United States, senior Jiyong Song is no stranger to living in new and different environments.
Song had the opportunity to live in these different countries since his father’s job as an expatriate for Hyundai Mobis requires the family to travel often. As a result, Song believes that his experiences gave him lifelong skills.
“Experiencing these multiple diverse cultures gave me an ability to adapt to whatever environment I am in,” Song said. “I don’t find it difficult to adjust myself in a different situation, which I think is very valuable and useful.”
As a young kid, he learned to adapt to the drastic differences in not only the cultures but also the ways of living.
“My experience in India was somewhat shocking,” Song said. “Cows crossing streets and people riding elephants by the road were very new and interesting to me as a child.”
Having to constantly move and adapt to new environments naturally brought many difficulties for him.
“It was hard to leave my Korean friends, who gave me hope and energy when I lived in Korea,” Song said. “Also, when I moved to Spain, I had forgotten English during the two years in Korea, so I had to learn it again while learning Spanish at the same time.”
In addition to the language barriers, he also saw major differences between the education systems.
“My experience in Korea was full of studying despite the fact that I was only in sixth and seventh grade,” Song said. “It was difficult to adjust myself to a harsh educational environment. In the United States, I was challenged by the level of native speakers and schoolwork, especially preparing for college.”
Despite these difficulties, however, Song realized that he was able to create lasting memories with his friends and family.
“I cannot forget the moments when I made new friends in each country,” Song said. “Most of them were awkward, but that’s what makes them special and memorable. Also, being with my family created the most memorable experiences. The bond I was able to make with my parents, I believe, is exceptional because we went through difficulties and challenges together in foreign countries and relied heavily on each other.”
In addition, living in these countries gave him a newfound respect for various cultures and their ways of living.
“In Spain, I was lucky because I could learn Spanish in its mother country,” Song said. “Also, Spain is very enthusiastic about soccer, which is one of my favorite sports. I went to was a private school, so it was a great to make new friends and experience the culture.”
As a result of his experiences, Song plans on traveling more in the future and also hopes to encourage others to live in other countries in order to better understand the different cultures.
“By growing up with many different cultures, I got a vision that I want to experience more countries and environments abroad after graduating college,” Song said. “On the other hand, I also want to help people who cannot do so. I want to make a society where everyone gets a chance to experience other environments and find motivation to live a life that they think is the best.”