Seoul Searching

Words By Kelsea Alyse McNamara

Fear can be like jumping over a hurdle that isn’t even there.

At least that’s what I experienced in my current travels to Seoul, South Korea. For our two week holidays between Term 2 and Term 3 at C3 College, I got the opportunity to travel up to South Korea to visit my best friend of four years.

Yasmina and I met while she was an exchange student at Columbia College Chicago when I was in my first year of study as a University level student. We were assigned as roommates, but quickly found out we would be life-long friends. Meeting Yasmina was like taking a trip around the world… well, at least around Europe anyway. She was born in Belgium, grew up in Spain and studied in Bath, England before I met her. Her “Ello [hello]” was a mix of British eloquence and Spanish spice—I mean, what an accent to have!

So, I’m in another country—truly a God-given dream of mine to see the world and it’s by His Provision I’m even able to be there in the first place (that goes for studying in Australia as an American as well). I’ve finally re-united with my friend after waiting (quite patiently I may add - which is an achievement in itself), and we are taking the city streets by storm. Eating some of the best food I’ve ever had. Kimchi lovers know what I’m talking about. And don’t even get me started on the street food. Anyways, you get the gist—my heart was full and so was my belly.

I’ll explain what I mean by jumping over non-existent hurdles. Metaphorically… I’m not that insane.

The workweek came and my friend had to go to work leaving me to have all of Korea to myself from 12pm-10pm every weekday for my 2 week stay. Literally, Yasmina went to teach kids English as I road the subway, navigated around a city I didn’t know at all and had to make it back to her apartment safe and sound. I was only responsible for myself, but the weight of that responsibility honestly felt like I was trying to protect 5 children or something. I don’t have kids and that could be regarded as a slight over-exaggeration, but I still feel like one sometimes. Innocently wandering around foreign places in awe and curiosity, all while being an adult and making wise, practical decisions. Was it okay to trust myself in discerning who to approach for help and who not to? All of a sudden, the once blissful track of adventures was populated with hurdles that I just could not fathom jumping on my own.

“I don’t speak Korean, I don’t look Korean and I sure as heck don’t know how to read or understand Korean,” were pretty much the hurdles I was facing. Can’t forget to mention the fact, all I had was an iPad that only had service when connected to WiFi with me (my iPhone got water damage just before the trip).

But 1 Timothy 2:7 says, “For I have not given you a spirit of fear or timidity but of power, love and a sound mind.”

I not only had to read that verse each morning before setting out on my sight-seeing, I had to sing that verse (yep, even out loud—I was that crazy American humming and singing to herself under her breath through the subway and sidewalks) and saturate my mind with that verse throughout the entirety of every day. As I did, I found myself approaching those hurdles and discovering they were irrational fears.

I say ‘irrational’ because everywhere I went I encountered the loveliest of people. People who not only could speak English but who would approach me and ask to assist me. People who offered to travel alongside me to my destination and who bought me coffee along the way. I learned just being able to say ‘Thank you’ in Korean (Khamsamnida) was enough to make people grin at your attempts to communicate.

Overall, I learned that there is freedom in having no control and being in over your head. Because fears were faced and the strength, power and sound mind promised by the Lord allowed me to hear Him whispering His graces to me along the way.


About Kelsea Alyse McNamara
An American born artist, currently living in the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia. Kelsea is an all-around visual gal who lives what she loves—believing that pursuing her passions and desires will always take her to far and near places with fresh eyes ready to capture any moment and be impacted through it's experience.

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