I was born in Korea but grew up in 4 different countries. This constant moving never allowed me to form a strong attachment to a certain place. There was always a deadline, a time when I would leave. It was always a temporary place of residence.
One of the consequences of my upbringing is that I do not relate to a particular country. There is no one place that I call “home.” I was born in Korea and have a Korean passport, but I grew up elsewhere. I am very “Americanized” but do not know many of the pop culture references of the 90’s. I grew up in Kyrgyzstan and speak Russian but forgot most of it. I went to an American boarding school in Germany. I had a big identity crisis as a teenager. Where was home?
I appreciate the endless shuffling more now than I did when I was growing up. I am very flexible and have the ability to adapt to pretty much any situation because of my childhood. In fact, this nomadic lifestyle is so engrained in me that I incorporated it into MS3.
Like most medical schools, MS3 marks the beginning of our clinical years. While most students stayed at our university hospital for their clerkships, some were sent away to different hospitals around the country. I decided that I was going to do away clerkships as much as I could and not rent an apartment (hospitals provided apartments for visiting students). I packed up my belongings and stored boxes at friends’ apartments while keeping a large suitcase to carry with me on this journey. I have been on the road, doing away clerkships, for a few months and it has worked out surprisingly well. I saved rent money, met interesting people, and I got to see parts of this country that I otherwise would never have bothered to visit. I rotated at an ultra orthodox Jewish hospital, I spent time with a family doctor who works with young athletes at the national sports institute, and I learned from a professor who is world-renowned for his ALS research. Not bad, right?
Now I’m back and renting an apartment for the rest of the year because there are no away rotations. It’s good to be back at the university, where things are familiar. It’s good to see my classmates who I haven’t seen while I was away. The falafel from the corner stand never tasted so good. But this too is only temporary. I will be leaving for the States in June for electives.
So, where is home?
Home is where I am.