As of today, there are exactly two months left until I will be boarding a plane back to the homeland. How are we already more than halfway through June?!?! Two years ago at this time I was saying good-bye to my first teaching job and bracing myself for the unknown. I can easily remember the feelings I had before coming to Korea. At the time, I had this huge desire to be taken out of my comfort zone and dropped into an unfamiliar place where I knew no one and no one knew me. It felt like an experiment. How long could I survive in a foreign country and how well could I adapt to a new environment? Little did I know my experiment would last two amazing years. One of the most exciting times in my life was my first night in my own apartment in Seoul. After my co-teacher dropped me off at my apartment, said good-bye and I tucked myself into bed that night, I felt as if I would explode. I was truly ALONE. Everything I had imagined and planned for the past six months was happening. I was in my one-room apartment and I would wake up the next morning in Seoul, Korea, a place 8,000 miles away from home. There was no going back. I had never felt more liberated in my life.
Two years later I find myself settled into a routine here that is almost somewhat boring at times. Instead of feeling excited and interested in the cultural differences that surround me, I find myself frustrated. The simplest activities such as finding the right milk in a grocery store can become a daunting task when you’re in a foreign country. (It took me almost a year to find out that the milk here is 8% fat rather than the options of skim, 1%, or 2% like back home. I stick to soy milk.) I miss the convenience of knowing where everything is at the local Stop and Shop and Wal-Mart.
It’s helpful for me to rekindle the feelings I had upon arriving in Korea. I have a mere two months left here and I’m trying to stay positive during my remaining days. Overall my blog has been very positive and I like to keep it that way because I have no right as a foreigner to come to a country and just complain about someone else’s culture. But lately I’m beginning to feel more negative about being here and I feel as though I am in a rush to come home. I need to remind myself that two years ago I was in a rush to leave home. Living in the present is much easier said than done. As my journey in Korea is coming to a close I want to reflect on the things about Korea that I will miss and the things that I definitely won’t miss. Regardless of how I feel at the moment, I know that when I leave, a part of my heart will be always be in Seoul.
What I will miss about Korea:
*My amazing friends
*Having my own apartment
*Traveling around Asia
*Being the minority (and the attention I get from it…note this is on my list of thing I will miss and won’t miss)
*My amazing friends!
*The cheap, efficient, and effective healthcare
*Being able to get cheap prescription glasses in 30 minutes
*”Servicee!” at the beauty shops
*My amazing friends!!!! (did I say that already?)
What I won’t miss about Korea:
*Being the minority (and the negative attention, stereotypes, and at times downright racism that comes with it)
*The language barrier
*Not being able to find things in a grocery store
*One-size-fits all clothing and mentality
*Lack of diversity
*Pushing and shoving while getting onto the subway
*Men spitting everywhere
*Corn in my pizza
*Plastic surgery advertisements
*The noises of loud, old, drunk men at night
*Walking through crowded streets of Koreans who are too busy looking at their cell phones and don’t watch where they are walking
*Hearing, “Heh-roh! Whe-ah aw you puh-rum?” from a stranger
*Inconvenient banking hours
*Obsession with a “small face” and a “high nose bridge”
*Not having a car
*Being a “waygookin” (foreigner)