Travel books on Europe are as abundant these days as opportunities to travel abroad. It is probably safe to say that taking a trip to Europe has been on the wish list for most non-European university students. Despite the plethora of tour guide books however, Quite Excitement stands out because of its uniqueness. The author puts more emphasis on herself than on Europe. She is completely honest with the readers and does not resort to clichés describing only the positive aspects. Quite Excitement includes a detailed journey of how the author got to know herself better throughout her stay in Rome, Florence, Paris, Barcelona, and London for 98 days. The Hanyang Journal recently met with the author, Yoo Ji-hye, to discuss her experiences.
If I Want to Do It, I Do It
Q. You stopped attending university and became a writer after a trip in your twenties. This must have taken a lot of courage to do. What brought you to make that decision?
A. I personally think anyone can do anything these days. Times have changed and a person does not have to stick to a single job during one’s lifetime. I can alter where my life is heading, depending on the things I am interested in. The reason why I entered university in the first place was to meet new people and to experience being a university student. I have never thought that I must graduate from university because there are various forums to learn something in the world. Then I made up my mind to look for other new things to do. I am still willing to learn and study more at a university again, maybe in the U.S. someday.
Q. It is hard for young university students to decide on what they want to do in the future. Even if they figure out their interests and aptitudes, they often struggle on how to achieve their goals. Do you have any tips?
A. I have been keeping a diary since I was a child. Writing about myself helps me understand what I am interested in and why. After you set your goals, just take it one step at a time. If you want to develop your sense of style for example, go to any store like ZARA and try on as many clothes as you can. You don’t necessarily have to purchase them. It is easy to think that it costs a lot of money to be fashionable but it’s actually not. Never lock yourself up in your prejudices. Start small and do anything. I did have a hard time preparing for the book. I wrote manuscripts everyday based on my diary in my favorite café. I also thought of other alternatives such as being an indie publisher because I was really eager to get my book. Doing what I can do right now is the key for me.
I Know Best
Q. Even though you were firm about your decisions, people around you might have been worried. How did you cope with that?
A. Only I know myself best. No matter how close others are to me, they are not me. I had some friends who were skeptical about my choice to leave for Europe instead of going to school but honestly, I just didn’t care. If you are really sure about what you want, do not hesitate to do it because of what others might think. You can prove them wrong in the end. If your parents are concerned about you, spend some quality time together and have a conversation about what you have in mind. This might serve to be helpful. Reassure them with your confidence.
Q. It was interesting that you went to Europe without an itinerary. What was the purpose of doing so?
A. I believe that plans interfere with experiencing new things. There are pressures like, ‘I have to visit as many tourist spots as I can. Who knows when I’ll come back here again?ʼ do more harm than good. If you don’t plan anything, you can have wonderful day full of surprises instead. Of course I did book tickets for my flight and reserved places to stay, but other than that, I just wanted to spend time as it went by. I spent a lot of time in cafés watching people and writing in my diary. It made me realize how different each and every individual is and can be. No two cafés were the same. They all had a unique atmosphere of their own.Everything was original.
Q. What was the most unique feature of Europe for you?
A. People in Europe dress very casually. Surprisingly, even in Paris, which is well known for its fashion, most women wear old clothes without makeup. What is more surprising is that they still look very fashionable. I think not following trends is more attractive. After my trip, I started to spend less money on shopping which I used to be obsessed with. My priorities have changed and instead now I spend more time with my family or choose to read books in my spare time.
*Travel is really pure and innocent like water. When traveling, there are no distractions so that I can fully concentrate on myself. It’s like starting over in a completely new and different environment, observing my feelings and reactions. It does not necessarily have to be foreign countries and domestic travels also can be inspirational. It is really interesting that the less money I have, the more flourishing memories I can make. Once, I have been to Jeju Island staying at Shilla hotel which is a quite fancy one in Korea. Though I had a great time swimming in the pool and taking a lot of pretty pictures, I was not that happy. I kept thinking that I don’t really fit in this kind of place and my parents should have been here who have gone through all the difficult time sacrificing for me. I personally believe that not having enough money during a trip is one of the strengths that young students can have. All kinds of travels have their own values. Also keeping diaries is very helpful to capture my thoughts and meaningful moments. Pictures do remain but taking only pictures cannot store what and how I think throughout the journey. I think knowing about myself is the most precious lesson I can get from traveling.*
Vivid Dream = Realization
Q. Do you have anything that you want to say to the Hanyangians?
A. I am constantly thinking about what I want to do in the future. I don’t have a specific timeline planned out but I have my own big picture about life. In my opinion, I was able to fulfill my goals of travelling to Europe and publishing my book because I vividly dreamt about them. The goals that you want to achieve should always be on your mind. They shouldn’t end up as New Year’s resolutions that you forget about as time passes by. Try not to plan anything too ambitious just because a new semester has started. Keep this in mind and just go for it!
EVENT FOR THE READERS
The Hanyang Journal is looking for two contributors to write reviews on the 329th issue of the Hanyang Journal in the section called ‘Readers’ Page on page 35. You can write freely about your thoughts on any article of this issue and it should be about 80 words in length. A photograph of yourself must be attached to the review. Out of those who send us their submissions, two will be given the book Quite Excitement written by Yoo Ji-hye with her autograph. This offer will last until March 20. You can send your reviews via email.(hjournal@hanyang. ac.kr)