Where’s the temple?
That was my first thought after a THREE HOUR bus ride when we stopped in a clearing of trees and rock.
My second thought was - do Buddhist temples have WiFi?
I was studying abroad in South Korea when I was told I needed to take three MORE credits to receive my financial aid.
Since I couldn't be in two places at once (though I did wonder about cloning), I decided to take my first online course.
So, if you ever thought "I just don’t have time for school" or maybe "My schedule is too hectic to take classes!" let me share how online courses can help you keep your Zen (whether you're living as a Buddhist monk or not).
Let me back up.
As soon as I found out I HAD TO take an online class while studying abroad, I was immediately flooded with questions...
- What if I'm not really going to learn anything?
- What if this class is a waste of money and I won't get credit?
- What if I'm like five times zones away? Do I have to wake up at midnight to go to class?
I've always thought that in-person classes are the only way to go and that online courses just didn't have the same quality.
When the course started I was pleasantly surprised in how much I was able to learn and how easy I could fit it in to my schedule. I would be running around South Korea learning and exploring all day and when I had the time, I would come home to work on the assignments from my online class.
One of the most memorable moments during my study abroad was when I had to stay at Haeinsa Buddhist Temple in Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea and live as a monk for 24 hours.
We were traveling from Seoul, South Korea - one of the fatest growing electronically advanced cities in the world - to a province on the side of the country. The commute took us a total of 3 hours, before my professor announced that we had arrived at the temple.
I stepped outside of the bus only to see a trees and rocks...
Where's the temple?
It turns out that we had to hike our way up a mountain to get to the temple. The hike up was beautiful; the weather was cool and the shadows of the trees shield us from the sun’s burning rays. Soft sounds of the streams were heard as we made our way up to the mountain.
The situation would have been more serene if I wasn’t in such an uncomfortable position. I cursed myself for packing so heavy, for HAULING UP A LAPTOP, and for not using the public bathroom I saw earlier.
I thought I was going to faint as I climbed up the last step, but all tiredness washed away as I saw the elegant entrance of one of South Korea’s most sacred temples.
We were greeted by a bubbly lady. She was tiny, but bursting with energy. She rushed towards us right away and tried to grab as many bags as she could in spite of how small she was. She gave us some uniforms to change into and the proceeded to lead us to the women's dorm room.
Once she left, I dropped all my bags and hastily whipped out my laptop. I turned it on, frantically searching for Wi-Fi. I walked around the room with my laptop in hand, searching high and low for some sort of connection.
I needed Wi-Fi for my online class!
No!!! No Wi-Fi was detected...as expected.
Luckily for me, I had some tabs that I had opened before we left. I was able to see what assignments I needed to get done for the week.
I was relieved, because after I finished with my meditation and Buddhist monk training, I was able to get some classwork and discussions done (I just typed it in word and then posted it when we got back to the city).
(This is a photo of the dorm room of the temple I was staying in and this was where I was working on my assignments for my online class)
Would I CHOOSE Online? Again. For the First Time.
I didn't have any trouble studying online at all! (Well...except for the part where I did not realize that the charger for my laptop does not work in South Korea and I had to RUN AROUND THE COUNTRY trying to buy myself a charger with my very limited Korean...BUT that's besides the point).
Even while I was living as a Buddhist monk and did not have access to Wi-Fi, I was STILL able to get assignments done before the due date AND get good grades.
I was able to easily balance my studies and my free time in South Korea with my online course. I was able to learn at my own pace and get credit for it. I did not feel like the online course was taking away from my daily activities or that I had to put anything on pause to do work for the class.
After a positive experience with my first online class, I have taken a total of 10 online classes SO FAR. This semester I am taking all 18 credits online!
I was able to take online classes while I was in a different country. I even lived as a Monk for a day and did my class work in a temple located in a forest somewhere in South Korea. It's possible!
We all have different reasons in our lives that might make it hard for us to physically attend class, but online class makes it possible for us to do what we need to do while staying in school.
You may feel a bit reluctant at first and wonder if you are getting the quality education you are paying for. Trust me I feel like I have learned just as much as I do in my normal classes!
Of course you might not be in another continent trying to complete your degree. It could be because you simply do not have time to commute to campus or class hours do not fit in your schedule. I just want you to know that completing courses for your degree is possible with the flexibility of online classes.
You may wonder if you are actually going to be able to balance your life with your online class. You can always start off slowly - maybe with one or two classes. See what you can handle, test the waters, and then add more classes when you are comfortable.
Hopefully, my story will help you feel more confident about taking online classes. So...what are you waiting for?
It's possible for you to get your degree and to have it fit around YOUR schedule!
Best of luck and until next time,