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.


  1. Good luck with the return home. Having recently returned home myself (to NZ) after living in South Korea for 5 years I can honestly tell you the transition to ‘Western life’ is not that easy. Probably the biggest changes I noticed initially, was the high cost of living in Nz and the use of sarcasm in everyday conversations.

  2. - Looking back don't u think u should have just moved out of that creepy place & found your own place....Why didn't you?
    How long were u in there anyway?

    - I don't think you'll have a huge re-adjustment to the US...you've been back visiting enough times to know what you really like & don't like about the US & you've kept up via media, etc...
    And considering you're going to be in a new State, city, etc... the adventure will definitely continue! You'll also be close to Vancouver, BC & exploring Canada will just be to your north! Alaska isn't too for from there either for that matter! Not tropical...but extremely scenic & beautiful. IN THE SUMMERTIME!!!
    - I wish you had seen more of Asia while over in Korea...China, or South to Thailand, Philippines, etc...

    - AND there's: "I know they had not enough money" = I know they didn't have enough money"....
    Once & for all it's time you start thinking in correct English! Something to really work on Joy...you've been doing it rather "inside out" since a child!


  3. I've been reading your blog for over a year now. Just want to let you know I am going to miss it. Thank you.

  4. Thanks so much. I hope you can relive the tails I've had in the archives. :)


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