Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself missing Korea more than I thought I would. I miss the freedom of living on my own, the exciting discoveries that come with being in a new place and the challenges of living as an American in a foreign country. Something that has helped this weird, awkward longing for my old Korean life is seeing former coworkers and friends from SEV.

One of my closest friends from SEV, Jennifer, came to the States in January to visit her sister, a student at the University of Delaware. After a week in Delaware and Maryland, Jennifer came up to New York to visit friends in the city. A few Saturdays ago, I met up with Jennifer, Terri and Nari in Astor Place for dinner, dessert and gossiping…I mean, reminiscing.

Smile and say kimchi!

I hadn’t seen Terri, a former coworker, since she left Korea over the summer to study at NYU. Nari is also a former SEV teacher who left shortly before I started my contract in Seoul. After a sushi dinner, we went to Red Mango, a Korean (of course) frozen yogurt chain in the States and one of the staples in my neighborhood in Seoul. It felt surreal to sit with my Korean friends at a frozen yogurt shop in Manhattan and catch up on the last six months. Since August, Jennifer started a new job, Terri began graduate school and I traveled through southeast Asia. As good as it was to see them, it was hard to say goodbye. Jennifer had been planning her trip to the States since the summer, so our goodbye in Korea wasn’t really goodbye, but a see-you-in-a-few-months sort of thing. This was a real goodbye, an I-really-don’t-know-when-we’re-going-to-be-in-the-same-place-again goodbye, and that was much harder than I thought it would be.

A week later, another teacher came to America for a visit. Kingston was the last stop on Nicky’s New York itinerary, but you’re supposed to save the best for last, right? Nicky’s visit gave me an excuse to go snowtubing up in the mountains, which I had been dying to do all winter. After seeing the runs at Hunter Mountain, we moved on to Windham, which looked a bit more exciting.

Getting towed up the hill!

The next day I gave Nicky a tour of some of the smaller towns up in the Catskills. After breakfast at Sweet Sue’s in Phoenicia, we drove down into Woodstock, which, during the winter, looks like every other small town. (That is to say, boring.) Grandfather Woodstock and the rest of the spectacles in town were nowhere to be seen, so instead of people-watching, we hopped into a few shops and art galleries.

Main Street in Phoenicia. Seriously.

Woodstock's main drag, absent of woodchucks and tourists.

Our final stop was the Ashokan Reservoir, one of the most scenic parts of the area, as well as the source of New York City’s drinking water. One rumor states that during the Cold War, Russia had a missile aimed at the reservoir, with the intention of crippling the city by attacking its water supply. Have done a bit of Googling and couldn’t find any confirmation either way, so it remains an upstate rumor.

We tried walking across one of the bridges on the reservoir, but it was just too damn cold and we ended up wind-whipped and speed-walking back to the car.

Nicky’s visit gave me a chance to go back to places I haven’t been in years. Even though I’m up in Woodstock every few weeks, I’m usually just running errands or picking something up at a friend’s house. With Nicky here, I got to see the Catskills in a way I hadn’t seen them in a long time. I’m looking forward to the spring, when everything up here starts to come back to life after the cold winter.