Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The end of my Korean Adventure

So this will be the last post on Adventures in Korea. I really feel this chapter in my life has ended and a completely new chapter has begun.

When I first moved to Korea in 2004, I was young, perhaps a little naive and Korea was new and exciting. The language and culture seemed far too difficult to grasp and I was enthralled by the idea of living abroad. The fact that I had a trillion dollars worth of student loans to pay off was just an easy excuse to move to a country that was so far away and so interesting.
I am so lucky to have had my first taste of Korea while living in Ulsan.
Despite the fact that it's air quality boarders on toxic, it is a beautiful city and is home to some of the most down-to-earth weaguks (foreigners) I have ever met.
The foreigner community in Ulsan is by far the best organized, the most social and the most inclusive of all. There was always plenty to do and usually that involved drinking (as most of you can tell from the photos). The beaches and mountains that surrounded the city, dotted with their temples, just added to the experience.
My first school, Oh Sung Sik, was a good experience for me. As the only foreigner it wasn't always easy to feel part of the community, but my co-workers always made a big effort by inviting me out for drinks, or dinner and dropping by my apartment for coffee or a game of 'go stop'. I was never alone.
The friends I made in Ulsan are some of the best friends I have made in my lifetime. It is a time in my life that I will never forget.

When I returned to Korea the second time, I was so happy to be surrounded by my co-workers and beautiful students who carried me through a really tough time in my life. After losing my father less then 2 months earlier, some people thought I returned too early, but I knew it was the right time for me. Living in Jukjeon was a very different experience then Ulsan. It was definitely easier living closer to Seoul and the culture and language barriers faced in the south seemed to be fewer.
Although I had moved to the land of high-rises and skies filled with more smog then I thought possible, I had a lot of great memories, both with my co-workers and students.

When I decided to leave my job to go travelling it was wonderful to have the support of those around me. Those 4 months completely changed my life. Not only for the fact that I met Jon, but also for the fact that my outlook on life changed. Through the experiences I had and the incredible people I met, I was able to let go of a lot and truly start my life again.
Returning to Boston Campus this past winter was not a mistake. I am glad I had the experience and had the chance to teach some incredible students.
Jon and I had time to develop our relationship and realize how much we wanted to be together. I am really grateful for the last 8 months.

I am not sad about leaving Korea. In fact it feels like it was the perfect time in my life to leave. However, I am sad about not having the chance to say good bye properly to my co-workers and students, whom were so incredible and made me smile every day.
I will never forget the last 3 years and the people I met and those people who touched my life.

Korea will always be a special place for me, and although I have no plans to return, there will always be a small piece of me that never really left.


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