Tuesday, November 13, 2012
I will miss Korea / I will not miss Korea
It's an interesting circumstance to be leaving a country you have lived in for nearly five years. On the one hand you are about to embark on a new adventure, seize the day and capitalize on all your life experience. On the other hand you are stepping out of a world that you have on days treasured and on some despised.
When I think about what I will miss in Korea I call up fond memories of places I have traveled to and fun moments had on normal days. But I also start to understand what I won't miss while living here. .
I know for sure that I will miss the feeling of adventure living here. How I have become really independent, traveling around Korea on my own and taking the initiative even though my Korean is sub-par. Yet at the same time I know I can see new places and enjoy the incredible warmth from strangers, sometimes I feel living here is like being stuck in a box.
But I look back and pat myself on the back for coming to Korea, taking that first step in adventure. Indeed, the memories I have of my first months and years here are quite fond.
When I looked out my first office-tell window and saw the imagery above I couldn't help but feel how I was in a different place. I didn't understand really what I was looking at and the culture before me. I think for the most part I spent a lot of time figuring out my place here and the people I encountered. For sure this let's me know what I'm not going to miss after my time here. The problems I had with certain people (both Korean and foreign) and how I wasn't showing my best at times. But also I won't really miss being treated the way I was when coteaching. The whole thing of "nunchi" and keeping face is something I am going to enjoy not having to worry about back home. Yet at the same time I have learned to live with these aspects of Korean culture, to the point I no longer try and fight it.
Even though I know they had not enough money and didn't really care, I will never understand why my first public school put me in the above hideous dwelling. A room with no window and filtered in cigarette smoke does not make for a happy camper. In fact it's taken a lot of energy and time to get over this occurrence. But I know for sure I would never put a Korean visiting in my country in a place like this, and say "Oh sorry it was the best we could do."
So you see I have very sweet memories of Korea and also incredibly bitter ones as well. Yet they all mix together in a swirl, and I am not leaving Korea with hatred towards this culture. All of the bitter times in Korea helped me grow as a person and gave me strength that I can survive hard times. On top of that the pleasant times I had let me know how enriching living in another culture can be.
Therefore, when I look back on life in Korea I can't help but share with you the things I won't miss, but also those that I hold fondly. These days as I clean out my house and prepare for leaving I can't help but stop and imagine that soon I will be on the other side of the ocean looking back on it all here. It's a hard picture to grasp, and I get somewhat sad knowing it's going to end soon. Maybe I'll come back? Whatever happens I'm not going to regard Korea in a sorrowful light, it was what it was, and that's that.