I used to think of myself as not strong enough. I used to give up often. Sometimes I just felt how helpless I was by escaping from reality, and being a giver-upper instead of an acceptor of challenges and difficulties.
One thing that changed me recently was when I joined the Army Physical Training. When I was graduating from high school, and getting excited about college acceptance notices, I was really worrying about my college bill and where I would find that amount of money. Right then, I saw in the newspaper by chance that the Army National Guard offered a free tuition program. To not to bother my parents a lot for my collage bill, I thought about joining the Army training in order to qualify for that program.
I asked people who knew about that program and the army recruiter. After I told them that I was very weak in my arms, they all warned me that there would be a lot of tough exercises and training. I was a very active person and exercised regularly, so I thought that it wouldn't be a big deal for me and that I had nothing to worry about, except the push-up exercise thing because I couldn't even do one push-up at that time. However, I thought I just needed some workout on it, and then it would be fine. So I signed up in that summer right after my high school graduation.
When I got to South Carolina for the physical training, the Drill Sergeants were yelling at us, threatening us, and forcing everybody to move faster. Being in a real military base that was thousand miles away from home, the Drill Sergeants really scared
the hell out of us. Everybody was terrified by the very first impression of the military. Furthermore, all of our personal belongings and clothes were taken away. Instead, we all

got issued those green and brown uniforms. We had to wear those ugly looking, totally out of shape uniforms every single day for the rest of the four months. Also we had to sleep in a big barracks and share limited showers and toilets with sixty other females.
Physical training was the hardest part of the whole training. At the beginning, everybody got homesick. In the night, it was very common to hear someone crying and complaining. It was so depressing. I had a hard time to adapt everything there. I couldn't hear any music at all. I started going to church every Sunday, because that electronic organ in the church was the only music at that time. Believe or not, sitting on the bus with no destination, just for looking at the outside world, became one of my biggest enjoinments.
The training was almost cruel and cold-blooded. We had to wake up at five, get ready in ten minutes, and go outside to do exercises. Then, under the scorching sun, plus the humidity, there was a lot of crawling and running in the mud and sand with the heavy rock sac or riffle on our shoulder. All of the soldiers in training were regular kids that were still in high school or college, just like me. That was our first time being away from home. We really had a hard time adapting with all the stresses and pressures from the emotionless military. A lot of people couldn't stand the stresses and quit. I started wondering if this whole thing that I was doing was worthwhile. However, I made a
promise to myself: no matter how the Drill Sergeant humiliated me for any mistakes I made, or no matter how difficult the training was, I would not quit or cry even a little.


People always say that time goes like an arrow, but in the military base, the clock seemed to stop ticking, except during our sleeping time, which seemed shorter and shorter. Time passed extremely slowly as we begged for that four months to pass faster. We counted down how many days we had left until graduation to get a little hope. Surviving until graduation became our only courage to wake up every morning and to face the tough training programs.
In order to graduate, everybody had to meet the certain