A reflection on my 12-week study abroad program in the Philippines

Before returning to Korea after studying in Monol for 12 weeks, I reflected on whether I achieved my goals or not, and what changed when I came to study in the Philippines.

English was my reason for studying abroad in the Philippines. In reality, I did not reach the goals I set for myself. What I wanted was to speak in English as naturally as the main characters of the American series, “Friends”, but I realized that achieving this was much harder than I thought. Even if I study English for a lifetime, reaching that level would still be difficult.

Then, I realized that I don’t have to use English to that extent. I feel like I have been too obsessed with the idea of speaking that way.

When I think about it, English is only one way for me to express myself. As long as I can use it to talk about my deep thoughts, I’m already satisfied. Of course, this is still difficult to do. Somehow, I am now able to speak in complete sentences rather than in phrases or plain words, which is an improvement.

The best thing about taking a language course was that I was able to have more time to think and sort out my life.

When I quit the company I used to work for and go to the Philippines, 70% of the people I know were shocked.

“Isn’t it too late for you to study abroad?” They said.

Nevertheless, I decided to study abroad because I felt that my life has come to a tipping point. Also, I am 31 years old now. It made me wonder, “Is this the right job for me?” or “Will I have no regrets later?”

I needed time to think about my future before it was too late. So, I came to this place where I could surround myself with learning English – something that I always wanted to do before.

In a sense, I was able to sort out my worries about the future, but nothing changed significantly from my initial plans. Would I say that I am confident with my choice? Of course, I had to make sure that it wasn’t wrong.

When I decided to go to the Philippines, I knew that I shouldn’t play around. I’ve heard stories about it before, which is why I decided that I will study alone. In reality, it was completely different from what I expected. The friends I met here dedicate themselves to studying hard because they also came here to realize their dreams. Some were planning to go on a working holiday while others want to become English teachers.

Every time I study with them or talk to them in English, I was able to build my confidence. My younger friends in their early 20s would inspire me when they traveled from one country to another, living their dreams. This time, I was able to experience those feelings – something that I had forgotten about in my working and social life.

Naturally, I had some regrets. During my stay in Baguio, I wanted to travel to many places in the Philippines. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do so because of the pandemic.

If I get the chance, I would like to return to the Philippines and travel to different places. Most especially, I want to go back to Baguio as it has changed me a lot.