A man walked out of the shadows, clothed in animal furs and carrying a wicked looking sword. Five other bandits loomed up behind him, armed with a medley of spears and swords. The first man, who was the biggest, came forward and boomed out in a snarling voice.
“All right you lot. Just give us all your belongings and weapons, and we’ll let you go happily on your way.” He said, grinning evilly.
We looked at each other, exchanging faces. They all looked at me one by one, and I nodded to Richard. He stepped right in front of me, as I drew two more arrows and nocked them as well. Although shooting a single arrow and hitting its mark was hard as it was, I was about to shoot three.
“Come and get them” said Richard, swords bared in front of him. The other bandits were clumped together, not realizing I had drawn an extra two arrows.
“Down Richard” I yelled, drawing my bow horizontally and loosing all three arrows. Richard promptly got down on one knee, then looked up to see three bandits on the forest floor, never to get up again.
The big guy looked at his partners, then yelled and charged at us in a fit of rage. Richard walked forward calmly, parried aside his horizontal swing, then promptly spun around and lopped his head off. The girls looked away while Dan and I merely grimaced. As the last two bandits stood in shock, I put another arrow to my bow, and held it ready.
“This is your last chance to run away with your lives” I said, my tone firm. They looked at each other, and then ran, their weapons discarded on the ground. Their panicked voices argued with one another as they ran, deciding on what to do now that they were the only survivors.
I dropped to one knee, my bow loose and empty in one hand, and the arrow in the other, both shuddering. It was the first time I had killed another person. My usual targets back home were animals or other targets, never human. My father had always been proud of my archery skills, and said they were better than his. We would take turns choosing smaller and harder targets to hit, and I would always lose. He taught me to use my skills for hunting, but deterred me from using them to kill bandits who periodically came across our village. Occasionally I would shoot an arrow by their ear or through their hat to show I was serious, but I never killed anyone. And with two fingers, I had ended three lives in an instant. As I looked back and forth from the bodies to my trembling hands, I started panicking, and my breathing became really rapid. The last thing I realized before I saw stars at the edge of my vision slowly creeping towards the center was the touch of a warm hand on mine, and then everything went black.
The smell of adventure filled the misty air, just as the sun peeked over the mountains. Looking around me at the valleys below, I walked towards the edge of the mountainside, glancing over from my perch. I was almost over the mountains, and something told me today would hold a lot in store. I have been travelling for almost a whole month now, surviving off what supplies I could bring with me and food I shot. Occasionally I would pass by a town, and barter the pelts I had for fresh supplies, conserving the little bag of coins I had as much as possible. Walking back to my campsite, I packed up the few belongings I had, and then hoisted my rucksack. Looping the belt of my quiver around my bag, I snugly fit it in, positioned comfortably and conveniently so I could have an arrow in my hand before I could even bring up my bow. Picking up the few pieces of rabbit I had cooked the day before, I started hiking up the mountain, determined to make it to the peak and over before sunset. Grabbing my bow, I walked along, munching on my rabbit, and enjoying the scenery. I had a few friends who had left the last town a few hours ahead of me, and I was determined to catch up. By midday, I caught sight of them and yelled out a hallo. They turned around and waved, waiting for me to catch up. When I caught up to them, our party of five continued walking, talking merrily and also keeping a wary eye on the forest around us. Travelers always had to be wary of bandits, and each of us could hold our own. Of course we guys prided ourselves on being able to defend the two girls before they had to fight, and the girls let us have our little fun. Of course one of them was very pretty, and she had caught my eye a long time ago.
“Lucas” asked Cheryl, “What will you do once we get to the other side? The kingdom of Atlantis is a very big place for travelers like us.”
“I’ll figure it out once I get there” I replied, making a face. “I’m not sure what I want to do at the moment, so I’ll try to figure out something.”
“I see” she said, amused by my response, “Well whatever you do, I think you should join the Sapphire Guard. They’ll need your archery skills.”
The Sapphire Guard was the Emperor’s personal bodyguard. Trained for special tasks and missions, they were the elite. I don’t like to boast about my archery skills, but Cheryl was really impressed when I managed to shoot a single pine needle off its branch from about a fifty steps away. I was about to say something else when Robin stopped, her hand going to her knife. We all quieted, searching for the disturbance that made Robin stop. I nocked an arrow, Cheryl drew her exquisite foreign blade, Richard drew his two short blades, and Dan held his quarterstaff horizontally in front of him. I also had some experience in swordplay, and carried two short swords with me. As we slowly walked, tense, a squirrel popped out in front of us. We all relaxed for a second, and then jumped when a sword impaled it to the ground.
I just finished the last major part of my senior year. I finished my last AP exam. I took the AP literature and AP government and politics. Those two exams marked the end of my serious high school studies, and for some reason, now I feel sad. I really don’t have that much to do, and I’m pretty much done with high school forever. All I need to do is take one exam and then receive my diploma. It’s sorta sad. I’m looking back on my high school life, and all that fills my heart right now is a hodgepodge of conflicting emotions. Some things I just don’t want to end. Not yet. I’m also wondering about what life will be like after I leave. Will people remember me? Will the things I have done be remembered? What will my family do without me? There are so many questions that I want to ask, yet I don’t even know what I’ll do even if I learn the answer.
These past three years have been a life-changing experience, and the irony of it is I’m not quite sure how. I feel as if it’s an answer I don’t want to know, yet somehow it will be of crucial importance to me in the future. Has all the time I’ve spent been used wisely? I don’t think it has, and I regret it now. Making decisions I shouldn’t have, not doing some things I should have, or sometimes not making a decision at all. Decisions have consequences, and even now I’m still dealing with some consequences that are a result of bad decisions or simply ignorance. I think that a big part of it was laziness. I always procrastinated, not doing the things I should have been doing when I should have done them. It was like bulldozing with a large mound of dirt being pushed around, a mound that was always growing because you never took the time to go into reverse and start bulldozing with no obstacles in front of you. I would do things like facebook, or youtube, or play games like League of Legends. I don’t want to discourage you but I don’t want you to learn this the hard way like I did. It’s not pleasant learning this life lesson the hard way, and the tragic thing is, someone told me this already. I’ve heard this story plenty of times, and yet I chose to ignore it anyways. So this is the message I have to you; listen to what other people have to say, and actually try to learn from it and apply it. I learned a lot from people older than me, but I didn’t apply all of it, and now I find myself wishing I had. So try to take something from this senior who’s going off to college somehow, and actually use it in your life. Because if you don’t learn how to use what others tell you, it could get a lot worse than a pile of pushed back homework.
Friend. What does that one word mean? Why does it mean so much to us? According to dictionary.com, a friend is someone who is attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard. But is that really what it means to be a friend?
When I think of the word friend, it means so much more than a simple definition. Of course in some instances it might just refer to the people you have on your Facebook friends list. However, it usually symbolizes much more than that. Friends aren’t just acquaintances that we meet. They are people who mean something to us, people that we have come to get to know and cherish. Of course, they don’t have to be close, but we can still cherish them for who they are and how they have affected us. These are people that we can trust, someone that we can open our heart to and not have to worry about being stabbed in the back. They are also sometimes the people you have to pick up and slap in the face to bring them back, but let’s be honest, it’s out of pure love.
Another thing that comes to mind is how I came to have the best friend that I have today. I met this person in tenth grade, which might be a little shocking because it hasn’t even been that long of a time span. We first met during Spanish class, and drama soon after. We started talking a lot more throughout the year, and pretty soon we were texting almost nonstop. Swim season came, and we were both on the swim team, which helped us to bond even more. However, I don’t think that this was the biggest factor. The following year, my junior year, I decided to do cross country. It was not only during this time that I realized why my friend ran, I also came to realize that how we act outside in front of other people doesn’t matter; even if we don’t always act like it, when we’re alone together or communicating digitally, there’s no one around so we can just be ourselves and not have to worry about anything. We also talk about everything; and I mean everything. We don’t hide secrets, we help each other with our problems, talk about the most random things ever, plan our futures, occasionally deal with the other person’s bad mood, etc. throughout all our experiences, we’ve bonded more, got closer, and now we have a bond that we share with no one else. This special bond that we’ve developed is friendship, and each is as treasured as the other person treasures them. I know this friend will always be by my side, and I will always be by theirs.
So I guess moral of the story is, know your friends. And choose carefully, because you might end up relying on them very soon, and at a larger and much more rapid scale than you could ever imagine.
As I sit at my computer right now, I look at the date. It is the end of April. With only a month left of school, there’s plenty of time to reflect on the past. I’m still having trouble believing that it’s almost time for me to walk out of here, diploma in hand. However, there are a few things that I want to share with everyone; a few things I learned throughout my adventure called high school.
Although some of you may not know this, I moved to ICS in the middle of my freshman year. It was a hard transition, because it was the second move in about a year that I had gone through. I didn’t really have much time to take in the shock, because two days after I arrived in Korea I was already a student attending ICS. It was not an easy transition, moving between three different schools, each with their own unique atmospheres and cultures. I realized that I had to adapt quickly, and fast. Fortunately, my classmates were friendly and open, and I slowly started learning the culture, manners(depending on the place, they can differ quite a bit!). So I guess what I’m saying is, you should always be open to new environments, cultures, and people, because your survival could very well depend on it. It could make the difference between making a friend, or making that person your worst nightmare.
Another thing I’ve realized throughout my high school life is that most of us have a very annoying friend we like to call procrastination. Seniors give it a nickname, Senioritis. Putting off what you can do weeks beforehand is not a good idea, especially if you have the time. If you have the whole weekend to do a simple worksheet, it’s not worth it if you wait to do it at 7 in the morning on Monday. I know, I know, most of you celebrate the coming of the weekend by playing Friday and Saturday, and then decide to get back to work and do your homework Sunday. Or maybe that’s not all of you. However, I don’t think you start working on a project the day the teacher assigns it, especially if its due weeks later. The more you put things off, the more they pile up, and the higher your grade, the harder it can be to clear the table of unfinished homework. And waiting till the last minute is not something you can pull off in college.
Although I don’t have much time left here, I really want to make sure some of this stays with you guys, because you’ll need it in the future, especially the juniors. It may not seem like something that important, but these things are the keys to a successful and probably happy life. You might have heard some of this before, but I’m only repeating it because I feel very strongly about these. Or you could just pass on by, and learn what I learned the hard way.
As I thought about what to write for my blog, I leaned back in my chair and thought about the days ahead. This week will mark the last swim meet of my high school career. In two weeks I’ll be taking the last standardized tests of my high school life( thank goodness for that!). Then my last banquet, last few weeks of school, and then graduation. It seems like only yesterday that I was walking around the cramped hallways with Miss Scudder, exploring the school I would be diving into the following day. Looking back to what I was back then, and to what I am now, I don’t know what to think, because it all went by so fast. People might still call me immature from time to time, but it doesn’t bother me because I’m just enjoying life the way I’m meant to enjoy it, not them. If it doesn’t suit their tastes, we can always do something that everyone enjoys some other time. Although I believe I have grown physically, spiritually, and mentally, it doesn’t necessarily matter if you don’t do everything you can do in the four years of your high school life. Yeah, I know, you want to have fun as well. If playing League of Legends helps you focus on schoolwork and doesn’t lower your grades, by all means go ahead and play. If sports help relieve your stress and give you bonding time with your friends away from SATs and APs, among other things, then go for it! Just don’t do anything that you’ll wind up regretting later. In my case, something I still regret to this day is not doing cross country in 10th grade. I had tried out for volleyball, and didn’t make the team when Mr. Olling came up and asked me if I wanted to try cross country. I said no, and a year passed by. The next year, deciding to join because of my friends, I did cross country. It was possibly one of the most beneficial things I have ever done, and I will always cherish that time that I spent together with my team mates, running in the rain, getting injured, stretching, making fun of DK, going to play League of Legends with Jay after races; the list can go on and on. If you see an opportunity, grab it and don’t let go. Last year, our swimming team didn’t have a pool, and as a result, our team consisted of two people. We travelled to YISS three times a week, and although it was not by any means easy, it was well worth it. So, even if you are a little weird or perhaps immature, don’t give a second thought to others who tease you for it. Just watch as life presents the doors here and there, try them out and see where it leads you. Don’t sit by and miss chances that you might eventually regret not doing later. Unfortunately, that also means you should diligently and painfully prepare for your SATs.
I was recently talking with someone about making college choices, and I really think that some of what I said to them can be applied anywhere in any aspect of life. You see, one of the things that we experience here as a part of ICS-UJB is experiencing multiple cultures. Now I know, you’re probably thinking, wait what? The majority of students in our school are Korean! Now back up a second and let me speak. There are a few people that we know are not Korean. For example, take Isabella or Sameer or the two Emilys. They are not Korean, and definitely do not look Korean. Levi however, is a different story because we all know he’s Korean on the inside, but he does have some of the American blood in him. Due to these little differences in culture, we automatically experience other cultures just by interacting with our friends, as well as our teachers and other things, such as the stressful Collegeboard related tests. However, each little parcel of experience with a different culture that we get helps shape us for the future. For example, if you’ve gone on a missions trip to the Philippines or Ulleongdo, then you know what it is like to meet people who are in different circumstances than yours. As you interact with them, you start to know what kind of lives they live, and sometimes, especially in foreign countries, you start to pick up on some of the customs and manners that they have there. My point is, you learn to adapt. Adapting is so important I decided to write a blog about it, because if you can’t adapt to different environments, sorry but Darwin might be right with his theory about survival of the fittest. Adapting doesn’t just mean fitting in; it also means learning the culture and actively interacting with others. In college, I’ll have to make new friends as I won’t know anyone there. So I’ll have to adapt in order to make new friends. I haven’t been in the States for over three years now. Some people have been away much longer than me; it might be harder for them but for all of us it’s a new experience because of one huge factor: we are moving alone. Going off to college might either seem fun, full of freedom, or scary and full of daunting classes and tons of responsibility. However, even if it is the case, you have to adapt. You need your friends to be with you when you make mistakes, succeed, or just need someone to talk to. Being able to adapt to new friends, new cultures, and new environments will be one of the greatest gifts you could have, and since all of us have moved around at least once, we already have experience. It’s not a matter of how much you adapt, but HOW you adapt. Adapting doesn’t mean a thing if you figure out how to order Chinese take-out food while flunking every single class and staying on your computer all the time without socializing.