By Elise Oh
In the middle of fourth grade, my parents announced that our family would be moving to Seoul, South Korea for my father’s job in two months. Living in Korea proved to be an eye-opening experience, as I was thrown into a completely new culture. Moreover, the curriculum at my new school was fast-paced and a grade level higher than what I was taught back at home. Managing good grades took over half a year, but at the start of fifth grade, I was comfortably settled.
Moving back was a different story. I moved back home at the end of sixth grade, considering myself more Korean than American, and exactly the opposite of how I had been when I first moved to Korea – unaware of what was popular at home but in tune with Korean likes and dislikes. In addition, because I had not finished learning the rest of the fourth grade curriculum and had jumped to the advanced courses, I did not have a strong grasp of basic math skills required for seventh grade pre-algebra. Reestablishing strong mathematic foundational skills took numerous school sessions with my math teachers and long evenings at the dinner table with my dad, but I grew to enjoy math all the way up until high school, where I was able to take BC Calculus my senior year.
Because I did not have a personal tutor, the process took a lot longer than if I had sat down one-on-one with a math tutor. In addition, I did not have a tutor to help me adjust socially to American middle school life. But in time, I grew accustomed to American habits and entertainment. Although acclimating back home again was long and tiring, the benefits of living overseas outweighed everything. Living in Korea has enabled me to appreciate both my Korean and American sides, and I would not choose to redo that part of my life over anything else.