This is it, the home stretch, the last 100 days. I’ve been in Korea for 265 days. It’s been one hell of an adventure, and it’s not over yet. I don’t know what I was thinking, signing my life away for a year to a school I had never heard of in a country I didn’t know a single thing about. But now, three-quarters of the way in, I couldn’t imagine not doing this.
After nearly nine months here, I still miss things I can only get in America, but I’ve come to terms with living without them (with the help of the United States Parcel Service, of course). But now I know when I come back home, I’ll miss things that are easily accessible in Korea. Soju (and its subsequent brutal hangovers), kimbap and Konglish shirts will be half a world away. For all the crap I’ve given Korea over the past nine months, I have become quite fond of the place.
My plan last summer was to put off reality for a year and explore a part of the world I never imagined I’d spend time in. Truth be told, East Asia was the one place in the world I had no desire to ever travel to. Now that the days are winding down, I’m facing the same question I faced when I graduated from university a year ago: What am I going to do with my life now? I’ve got plenty of ideas, but they’re my secrets at the moment. When my contract ends on September 30, I am finished teaching–for good. It is an awesome gig, but it’s not for me, at least not in the long run.
In my time here, I’ve met all different kinds of people, types I’ve never encountered before. I’ve met the ones who will be teaching abroad their entire lives, bouncing from one job to the next, maybe settling for a few years with a good university contract, but then up again to the next locale. I’ve met the ones who come to Korea when their funds dry up and they need some quick cash for the next jaunt. I’ve met plenty of people like myself, fresh out of college and looking for an adventure or a quick way to pay off student loans before settling down in the real world. Korea is an awesome escape from reality, SEV even more so. I just hope that when the time comes to re-enter, I’ll be ready.
There’s plenty I have to do in the remaining 100 days. The curse of living somewhere is that you never do the touristy things. With that in mind, I hope to visit the palaces I haven’t yet seen, as well as several museums and exhibits in and around Seoul. I would like to visit Jejudo, the closest thing to a tropical island in Korea. Unfortunately, summer camp starts in a few weeks, and that is both a blessing and a curse. Sad as it is to have my Korea sightseeing plans halted for a month and a half, it will be good to see several good friends from winter camp who have decided to come back to SEV for the summer.
Somehow, over the past nine months, Seoul has become home to me. I’m not sure how or when it happened, but what was once scary and unfamiliar has become home.
On another note, my name is appearing in The Diamondback for what I swear is the last time. Have been brainstorming this column for months, finally got around to writing it.