Busan is truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my entire life. My favorite place in Busan, without a doubt, is Gwangalli Beach. To me, Gwangalli Beach is more than just a gorgeous location: it is a symbol of all the progress I have made in my academic journey to finally reach my goal of studying abroad. Arriving in Busan, I couldn’t wait for the moment when I would finally visit the beacon of hope that I’d been counting on for so long.

When I arrived to Gwangalli Beach, it confirmed that all the hard work and sleepless nights I endured to achieve my goal of studying abroad were worth it. For the first time in my life, I felt truly at peace and proud of myself. The moment my feet hit the sand, tears of joy streamed down my face. I looked out at the waves crashing and closed my eyes: this was it. I had finally reached my life goal of studying in Korea.

It sounds cheesy, but Gwangalli is to me what the green light is to Gatsby in “The Great Gatsby”. Until it become a reality, however, I thought that it was impossible and out of reach. Just as Gatsby had stretched his arm out towards the green light desperately yearning for Daisy, I reached out my arm towards Gwangalli and the dream of being in Korea. For me, achieving this goal was also a huge deal because of how many obstacles I had to overcome just to get here. I had financial obstacles, disability concerns, and my own mind acting as road blocks between me and my green light. I felt that since I was older than most students in my classes that it was too little too late. I felt that because of my disability it was unrealistic for me to fly to another country and abandon my safety net of accommodations. However, when I stepped foot on that beach it affirmed all of the leaps of faith I made along the way.

Thus, Gwangalli Beach is my beacon. It is proof that I can achieve anything I set my mind to. I can accomplish anything as long as I put in the work and never give up on myself. My hope is that other students around the world with disabilities or financial concerns are also given the opportunity to reach their dream as well. We all deserve happiness and to see the world from a new perspective. We all deserve to feel confident and capable of success. Therefore, I will take this experience and launch forward into my future goals. I am eager to learn and experience as much as I can in Korea while developing my professional skills for the future.

Kaylee Raines, Wright State University, is studying abroad in South Korea with TEAN.