• Updated : 2022.7.25 월 15:48
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Reborn in Gwangju[기고] 광주에서 다시 태어나다
Yousra F. Drioua, KGS Scholar  |  tribune1968@cnumedia.com
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승인 2022.07.06  17:32:38
트위터 페이스북 미투데이 요즘 네이버 구글 msn
▲ Yousra Feriel Drioua, KGS Scholar, Language Education Center

    The title sounds pretty grandiose, doesn’t it? Well, it might not literally be true to its word. But, figuratively, it is exactly how I describe my journey in this city. The irony is that my application didn’t go through Chonnam National University (CNU) for my scholarship. However, I was randomly assigned to the language institute here. As someone who believes in faith, I hardly think it was a random happening. It needs a look back on the person I was before coming to Gwangju last August vs. the person I’ve shaped into while living here to grasp it fully. My thoughts, perspectives, and emotions on multiple ideologies and facts concerning the world, especially my personal life, have expanded and shifted.
    The crucial part is that had I not had the courage to take that one step on March 4, 2021, none of this would have happened. I specifically chose that date because it is the day I was able to submit my application for the Korean Government Scholarship program despite my flight being canceled.

Going Through Inner Turmoil
I believe fate brought me to Gwangju, but I needed to do the work to make it come to life. To be frank, I still have an endless inner conflict with myself regarding my previous decisions. Did I genuinely waste five years of my youth working towards a major I’m never going back to? Or did I need to go through the experiences I had while obtaining that degree to become the person I am today? It’s never black or white, but contradiction is human nature after all. At least, I know for a fact that everything that happened within those five years got me to understand my strengths and weaknesses better. And as a result, I’m hopeful about my new decision. Shifting from natural sciences to humanities will be quite a ride next year. But, a quote I try to live by goes to say: “Moss surely grows on a rock.” I would rather struggle towards a goal than dive deeper into what is known as the “comfort zone.”
    These days, I also tend to compare one’s life to still water. It’s dangerous to drink as it provides a more suitable environment for parasites and bacteria to grow. Figuratively, you could think of the water as one’s mind. The more you sit still within your life, the more space is provided for fear, anxiety, and above all, numbness to manifest. In my case, the fear of lifelong sorrow and regret were the determining factor for my arrival in Korea. My soul craves change. This is why despite the hesitation, I trusted my ability to adapt and told myself, “What do you have to lose?”

▲ Yousra Feriel Drioua, back row, third from right, pose for a picture with the Chonnam Tribune reporters at a seminar room in the Press and Broadcasting Center on May 9.

“Fear Is a Survival Instinct”
Unfortunately, convincing my parents was not the most challenging part for the readers who might struggle with this issue. It was biding my mother farewell. Knowing that the tears in her eyes were out of love but also sadness hurt a little differently than other kinds of emotional pain. My father had done exchange programs during his youth, so he wanted me to have this experience. My mother prays that I’ll become whatever it is I wish to be. But back then, she often offered alternative suggestions not to have us be so apart from one another. As I have no experience with opposing parents on this matter, I won’t offer advice as it could turn out to be insensitive towards the reader’s individual situation. But what I can confidently convey is that change is worth it.
    No matter how big or small your current choices seem, go with the one that scares you most, as it’s the one that will change your life the most. Whatever fears and pessimistic overflowing thoughts you have, welcome them in as they’re a part of you but do not let them take the wheel for your living. Fear is a survival instinct; it’s one of the most humane emotions but also the most destructive one. So let it exist within you but make sure you have enough room for the courage to fight it when needed. It would be selfish on my behalf to say “Be brave” or “Just go for it.” So I plead to whoever might be reading this with similar concerns to have courage. Courage comes in different forms and shapes. Giving up one’s dream if the means to achieve it are limited is also a form of courage, but so is finding an alternative. It doesn’t need to be as glamorous as the previous one and just needs to make your heartbeat. And trust that wherever you go, there is an opportunity if you look closely enough.

▲ Yousra Feriel Drioua, front row left, takes a pose for a picture with CNU faculty, administrators and the former and current reporters of the student-rung univeristy media at a special exhibition hosted by the CNU Press and Broadcasting Center on May 15.

The City Embraced Me
I arrived in Gwangju with an empty bag when it comes my new major. Astonishingly, that bag is now packed with theoretical knowledge from one of the oldest establishments at CNU, the Chonnam Tribune magazine. On-hand experience in the Gwangju Local Radio has affected me immensely when it comes to what sort of work I would like to do in the future. A couple of published articles that I would have never dreamed of being able to do before. Not to forget to participate in local events within and outside the school boundaries. Volunteering and cultural exchange activities, to name a few precious opportunities I’ve been privileged to have experienced here. But what is dear to my heart and what I’ll keep with me wherever I go are the memories I made. The laughter and tears I shared with individuals I’ve been blessed to meet, the joy that filled my heart. And the bittersweetness of knowing I’m bound to leave its perimeter in the near future.
    Last but surely not least, I came to this city out of purpose, with an anxious heart and a newfound dithering passion. Yet, I will be leaving it with an asserted focus, a curious heart, and boundless passion. Also, much more Korean vocabulary than I initially came with. Now, allow me to wrap my emotions towards this city poetically. I sincerely believe that Gwangju embraced me as if it was urging me not to give up. As if the city was willingly giving me a second chance to start anew within all of its corners. I found a new family of friends here whose love keeps surprising me for days on end. I gained confidence in the work I enjoy doing. And to put something far from simple, in simple words. In a foreign land, I found a place to call home.

By Yousra Feriel Drioua, KGS Scholar, Language Education Center

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