60 days

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 students

*My amazing friends

*My co-teachers

*My job

*Having my own apartment

*Public transportation

*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)

*The nightlife

*My amazing friends!

*The cheap, efficient, and effective healthcare

*Korean food

*Norebang

*Jjimjilbangs

*Parks

*Coffee shops

*Being able to get cheap prescription glasses in 30 minutes

*Shopping

*”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

*Korean couples

*Soju

*K-pop

*Plastic surgery advertisements

*Deskwarming

*The noises of loud, old, drunk men at night

*School lunch

*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”

*Homophobia

*Not having a car

*Being a “waygookin” (foreigner)

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5 responses

  1. Each Journey begins with a single step. It will be an adventure in your life you will never forget. The journey to return home is the next chapter in your book to write about.
    Waiting for you to return home again for hugs and laughs for all to enjoy with you soon.
    Love Mom

  2. Hi Jen, sure sounds like you are ready to come back home, seems natural to me. I write this comment from Rapid City, SD where Sarah, Bob and I just arrived to start an 8 day tour of Yellowston, Mt. Rushmore, Grand Tetons, etc. Wish you could join us for a nice change of scenery!!

    Aunt Diane

  3. Your experience has been great for me to read about. It was something that I wanted to do when I was younger but did not. Now, you have it in your back pocket and no one can take it away. I’m glad that you are ready to come home and know that anything is possible!! Mary Ann

  4. @Diane, That sounds great! Traveling more of the US is definitely my next goal. Hope you guys have a good time.

    @Mary Ann, Yes, it’s something I will always have in my “back pocket.” Just remember, it’s never too late to travel. Most people end up traveling later in life when they really have the means to do it. Use some of your summer vacation time to get out there and see more of the world.

  5. My daughter is in the exact same position you are with 65 days until she departs Seoul after a year of teaching English . I found your blog and shared this post with her . I thinked it helped her to know that a lot of the feelings she is having are normal and expected . Thanks for sharing it really made a difference 🙂

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