A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me what will I actually miss from Korea, because so much of this year has been filled with anger, bitterness, shock, just the most base negative emotions (which I wish I had started this my first go around in Korea, because the entries would have been happier and much more positive).
I gave the terrible generic answer of, ‘well of course my friendships’ and she just stared at me.
So here, much later in time is what I will really miss pretty much in order of importance:
- healthy, convenient life – ignoring my experience at Italy House, I love the fact that I can walk to the grocery store (which also keeps me from going overboard because I have to carry it home), there’s a gorgeous park not too far that is made specifically for walkers. I know that I’ve lived a much healthier life during my time in Korea than anywhere else in the world.
- my students – with the few exceptions, I had such wonderful students. There are a few that I hope will keep writing to me, so that I know what is going on in their lives and what they’ve done in their lives. There are a few that I could see doing wonderful things in the world, but no pressure. I’ll happily say that once upon a time, I taught them English.
- friends – I have made three wonderful friends in the last year that I will take with me, unlike earlier years, where the vast majority of people that I spent time with and on were people that I would never see again in my life, this time I was secretly determined to have friendships that would last well after we had moved on from Korea. It’s been awesome to see a text that simply says ‘fb’ and have a long e-mail waiting for me and to text ‘fb’ and my friend will know exactly what I’m talking about.
- my parish – even though you never knew who was going to turn up and who was still around, Fr. Dennis and Fr. Simon are always there and they just care. The volunteers are amazing people who get up at ridiculous times of the day to have everything ready for Mass. There isn’t enough thanks in the world for them.
And what won’t I actually miss:
- being told that I’m not Korean.
- being told not to mention that I’m an orphan or adopted because I bring shame to Korea or even being told to lie and say that my father is still alive so that people won’t think less of me because I’m an orphan.
- being told to take abuse and smile.
- being lied to, screamed at, yelled at, cursed at all the while being told that I’m rude, impolite, abusive and other curse words.
- being told that kyopos aren’t welcomed.
- hearing that Catholics aren’t Christians.
- hearing the anti-American isms of Koreans and non-Americans.
- missing being a part of a strong parish life and surrounded by strong friends that encourage me to be a better person.
- not having access to public libraries and bookstores with chairs.
I will miss Korea and the people here, but there are things that I definitely won’t miss about Korea and the people here. I came to Korea to see if I could live here, if I could carve out at least a small part of my life here, and to see where exactly did I come from, there aren’t too many picture books of Song-tan. I would never trade these last two and a half years, the good experiences, the bad experiences, the laughter, the tears, anything because I know much better who I am and I have a better idea where I stand. One day I’ll come back to Korea, to see how the world has changed, to see old friends, to revisit old memories. It’s just now I need to close the chapter of my life dedicated to Korea and start a new chapter, a new life, new experiences.