As most of you may know I am a born and raised New Yorker who spent the last couple of years living in Korea. But, prior to my Korea/ life abroad I spent nearly five years outside of New York living in various cities along the East Coast of the U.S. My reason for residing outside of my home state was to experience living in new places while continuing my educational studies.
To start I always wanted to experience living in a new area ever since I was in high school. Having lived in New York my entire life and watched my older sister study & live in NYC I realized that I wanted something different, or maybe something more. It was not until late into my senior year of high school that I decided to attend a university in Pennsylvania I had been accepted to. While my parents were both opposed to the idea of me moving all the way out to the Pittsburgh area I was ecstatic to explore a new state and begin my college life.
Moving nearly 8 hours away I spent my first year in college attending a large university outside of Pittsburgh. I got to see America’s countryside, go camping for the first time, make out-of-state friends, and experience my first taste of independence. I was enjoying many new experiences, but during my first semester I realized what specific degree program & courses I wanted to pursue in my education. After a few weeks of researching new universities that best met my needs I requested my transcripts and sent out my applications. Within a few months into my second semester I was accepted into a handful of schools both back home in NY and along the East Coast.
Living away from home can make one feel homesick while living away from home can lead one to find something worth pursuing and love. For me, I felt in-between after my first year in college. However, the same feeling of pursuing more remained and led me to explore a new city on the East Coast. The following spring I accepted my admissions into a private research university in Boston, Massachusetts. Moving from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts was not as much as a big leap as was moving from my home on Long Island out to the Pittsburgh area. Instead of an 8 hour drive Boston was just 4 and 1/2 hours away. In addition, my family had close family friends who lived in the Boston area. Being closer to home yet in a new environment provided me with comfort in knowing that I was a quick bus/ train-ride away from home. However, being in a new environment, especially a more urban environment helped me grow even more. I learned to be street-smart and consciousness of my surroundings as a young woman, I learned how to navigate local transportation, I learned how to live a cost-effective lifestyle in an off-campus apartment, and I learned how to be more outgoing, by being more involved in my new school’s programs, events, and clubs.
I found my niche in Boston – I loved my degree program, I loved my club activities & participating in school events, and I loved my new city that I viewed as home. Building a home, life, and love for Boston I was hesitant at the thought of leaving once graduation rolled around. But, staying in Boston was not a thought-out plan for me and my degree. After graduation, I moved back home to New York to begin to focus on my career interests. Possessing a degree in IR(International Relations/Affairs) I dreamed of becoming an FSO(Foreign Service Officer) and working in multiple U.S. embassies around the world. My dream remained strong as I studied for the GRE(General Regents Examination), worked to save money for grad-school, and prepared for the next move in my life.
Within a year and half I left home once again and settled in a nice home rented out to graduate students in the lovely area of north Washington, DC(*DC for short) nearby of Bethesda, MD. Wanting to work in government I chose to complete my graduate degree program in the capital where all IR seminars, institutions, and top universities in the field were located. In my first couple of months I felt slightly overwhelmed to be living in a new city. Compared to my living experience in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts life in DC felt rushed. Everyone I met seemed to be going and coming, everyone I met seemed to be stressed, everyone I met wanted to compete. Eventually, I learned to adapt to the competitive environment I was in. I learned to manage, solve, and handle varying living situations that came with shared housing(* contract agreements, due payments, frequent roommates). Residing in DC was certainly a turning experience for me.
Looking back the one take away I received from living in one of the most global cities in the world was the diversity. So many people from so many places lived, worked, or studied in DC. I made many new friends not only from different areas of the U.S. but also from various countries. My exposure to a diverse groups of diverse friends, classmates, interns, professors, and roommates in turn changed my pre-planned graduate studies focus and prospective career choice. Receiving open advice from various peers, mentors, and friends I learned more about life overseas and international opportunities available for graduate students in my school. Deciding to take the leap in exploring a chance to study & live abroad in Asia I applied to dual degree program in Seoul, South Korea, which is how my Korea story began.
Coming full-circle in my life out of state and abroad I no longer feel in-between. Having spent five years living on and off in different places along the East Coast and three years living abroad in Korea I have grown more accustomed to living away from home. It maybe because of the feelings I had when I was only 17 or maybe because I wanted to accomplish something different that I could be proud of. Whatever the reason I know that I am content in continuing a nomadic lifestyle.
“If you could live anywhere you’ve lived before where would you live?” I receive this question quite a lot even now that I am back in New York. The answer I tell whoever is asking is always the same. I say that I would return to the place I was last – where my memories are still fresh. But, putting Korea aside I would probably return to DC with its global distinctness that can not be compared. After DC I would return to Boston and its beautiful charming streets. And finally I would return to Pennsylvania to visit the countryside and once again see some of the first out-of-state friends I have ever met.
As of yet I have not re-visited any of these cities since returning back to the U.S.. But, they remain on my mind everyday, as memories of my young adult life.
Have you lived in more than one place in the last five or ten years?
Where have you lived? And have you ever gone back?
*Note: All pictures posted are owned by the Yeppunshikan author, usage of these pictures without the owners consent is strictly prohibited.