As many of you know I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Iowa then proceeded to attend the University of Iowa… and still reside in the Hawkeye state. Although I’ve had my fair share of varying zip codes, addresses and house keys, one thing has always remained the same – my area code: 319.
It’s not until you leave your hometown (i.e. the place met your best friends of now 15, 20, 25 years, the place you know every short cut, back roads and traffic light like the back of your hand, the place you knew which house had the best candy during Halloween) that you appreciate and are proud to call that town/city/metropolis your home. What’s more exciting? When you have the chance to share that with others.
I’m excited to share with you that my cousin from Korea will not only be living in the United States this year but she will be attending the University of Iowa! Through the school’s English program she will be able to immerse herself in the culture, language and best of all, call herself a Hawkeye and experience a whole new adventure.
Anticipation of her arrival made me reflect on the first time I visited a new country: South Korea, where all my relatives live! Through a study abroad program offered by Sungkyunkwan University, I was a student in their first International Summer School in 2008. (See my glamour shot here.) I left at the beginning of summer break, right before the infamous Iowa floods. I had no idea what the world offered. I had no idea the 5 week program, 3 months living in Korea, would change my life. I went in without many expectations yet returned with a new perspective and appreciation of who I am, where I came from and ultimately where I could go.
So remember, 319, be good to my cousin. Show her that a new environment lends itself to new adventures. Introduce her to people with all types of backgrounds, interests, experiences and aspirations. At the end of her stay, let her appreciate who she is, where she came from and ultimately give her the final boost of confidence to start yet a new chapter of her life. Oh, and remind her that Iowa isn’t Ohio, Idaho or the land of potatoes.