If you’re a regular follower of my work, you may have been wondering where I’ve disappeared to over the past couple of months, and why I’ve taken a minor hiatus from the comic and social media scene. No, I’m not dead, or maimed, or impaired in any way, shape, or form, so rest be sure there’s no need to call my local embassy to send a search party.
So without forcing you to play a global game of Where’s Waldo any longer, let me introduce you to my new home, at Geumgang University in Chungcheongnam-do province, South Korea.
Last January, I made a really difficult decision to stay in South Korea instead of moving to Toronto. And in doing so, I want to be able to enjoy a higher degree of language fluency in a country that’s been my home for the past few years. Unfortunately, cracking books after midnight a few times a week was only getting me so far. So when I applied for and obtained a full-ride scholarship from Geumgang University, I was more than a little ecstatic to know that I could pursue studying all day, without having to balance the workload of two full-time jobs.
What makes this Buddhist private school so amazing, in my opinion, is its goal of providing free tuition to every single one of their students to pursue their endeavors. You heard this right; there’s not a single student in this school that is paying tuition to attend, and only have to cover the cost of housing and food to study here.
Geumgang currently offers four majors: Global Commerce and Trade, Public Administration, Buddhist Studies, and a special Korean Language program for individuals abroad, including people of Korean descent. The classes themselves are also top-notch, with four classes a week, four hours a day, with a healthy load of homework to make sure that you’re not distracted by any chicken and beer gatherings with the average 20-year old student in this place.
And you can’t beat the location, unless you absolutely love living a city life. The university itself inches itself up the foothills, surrounded by vast, sprawling rice fields at its base, with ornate Buddhist temples showcased on the mountain’s peaks.
I’ve really found a lot of peace coming out to live in the countryside again, after being in Seoul for the past 3 ½ years. There’s something soul-healing when you’re forced back to being involved in the environmental culture that we tend to leave behind in our daily lives. It’s something I haven’t been able to experience that since I used to live in a rural part of the Philippines.
I’m hoping that, by the end of my studies, I’ll be at the point in which I can tackle the TOPIK exam and work towards gaining long-term residency in South Korea. That’s not to say that I plan on settling in this country for the rest of my life, but for now, I’m happy here. And quite frankly, I just hope in time I can give back as much to this country as it has given to me.