When I was teaching in Korea, I noticed a large cultural difference in terms of how students would address creative questions. This became very apparent when I asked my university students the following question:
“If you could travel back in time, when and where would you go?”
In the US, students might answer that they would go see ancient Egypt, dinosaurs in the Jurassic period, or Woodstock. My Korean students, however, would always – without fail – tell me that they would revisit a time in their own life in order to change it (usually to study more or take a test over!) or return to an age when they had more free time. It’s because of their answers that this idea popped into my head.
If I could go back in time, where and when would I go, professor? That’s a hard question. Maybe you want me to say something about some big historical event or a famous person I might meet, but to be frank, there are moments in my life I want to go back to. Missed opportunities. Moments of regret. No, not the chance to study abroad or take more advanced classes. The chance to have more lovers. You’re blushing, professor. No need; I am just answering your question.
Let me give you an example. You always ask us to give examples to show our answers, right? So here’s mine. Last summer, I took a trip to Europe with Jun to celebrate our last year in university; you remember me talking about this before. We were at a hof one night in Zurich talking to a small group of Swiss women; Jun wasn’t feeling well and went home early, but I stayed. I was left with two women, both so beautiful. They had shiny hair, soft skin, perfect teeth. They were young like us, and we talked about the difficulties of expressing our thoughts in English. Well, to make a long story short – we all drank many beers, and these girls started kissing each other. I had never seen that before; there are gays here, but they hide. I watched them, so surprised – and so… well, it was exciting.
One of them took my hand and leaned in to my ear; she asked if I would come back to their apartment with them. I had never done sex with one person, and here were two girls asking me to come with them! Professor, I was so scared that I couldn’t. I was afraid that I would be bad at it. That they would laugh at me. Now, I regret that. So to answer your question, professor, if I could go back in time, I would say to those two Swiss women, “Yes. I will come with you. But I am inexperienced, and I need guidance.” They would say to me, “Yes, we will help you.” They would take me home and teach me everything.
I would give them as much pleasure as they wanted, and I would touch them the way they wanted me to touch them. I would lie back and let them touch me and kiss me, wondering about my luck. I would have – what is the expression you taught us? – seized the day. Professor, I don’t want to say too much, because you seem uncomfortable. But in my mind, I live that night every night. If I had a time machine, I would make a girlfriend in my first year instead of getting high test scores. I would kiss many girls on my trip. And I would enjoy my time with the two women I dream about every night.