I would always look in the mirror and be unsatisfied with the girl staring back. She had the eyes of her American father, but the nose of her mother, whose smelled the scent of Hong Kong soil as she left for a better life. I always wondered who this girl was staring back at me. I wondered if coming to Seoul would give me this answer. In coming here would I be able to find the reason for my grandmother’s warm heart despite her many challenges of immigrating? I wanted to find her voice here, before her mind became fleeting and before she grew wings and flew off, shortly after I came here.
I went to Busan to see if my answers were hiding in the ocean. I looked and looked but the waves didn’t talk to me. No matter how many times I asked, it continued to sing its own tune as the birds flew above. I thought maybe if I leapt into the unknown, the answer would abandon ship and I would get what I was searching for. But I was only left with the wind flying past me and a vow to never do that again.
Maybe, I’ll find my answers in Taipei. I searched through crowded streets and an unfamiliar language. I looked under ancient artifacts and behind bustling street markets, but I came up empty handed. Okay… Maybe my answers didn’t go to Taiwan, but it doesn’t hurt to look in Buyeo. My eyes bored into the beautiful scenery I only thought existed in dreams and waited for a sign. I waited for anything to show me that the answers have been residing in this historic place. But I was only left with the soft sounds of trees as autumn turned to snow.
I jetted off to Tokyo, where I thought for sure I could find my answers. I scanned the streets filled with animation and technology, but my answers didn’t pop out at me like the signs did. Singapore was my last chance. I rode around the island in hopes that the answers were built with the architecture or swimming in crystal waters. But the answers seemed to be nonexistent.
I slipped into my dorm at the break of day. I dragged my feet to my room, but stopped when something caught my eye. I turned towards the girl staring back at me. I found my answer.
I found my answers through my friends who were exploring around Asia with me. I found my answers through watching my friends fly through the air as they took their own leaps of faith. The answers were with locals, in the eyes of strangers, and through my loved ones’ smiles. I found my answers through connecting with others and experiencing things I’ve only dreamed about. My diversity isn’t clear, but the one thing I know for sure is that I love who I am and who I have become, and I know my grandmother is proud of me.
Lauren Robinson is a student at Colorado State University, and is an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Seoul, South Korea.
Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.
This made me tear up, Lauren! I love you and I’m so glad you had a memorable time with us and the places you’ve went.
I’m so happy I met you❤️