It’s hard to believe that it has been two years since I sat in JFK waiting to board my Korean Air flight to Seoul. Looking back at my first blog post from Korea, I’m floored that my first blog post wasn’t about the bright lights or weird smells, but about the movies I watched on the flight over. Really, Melissa? You’ve flown halfway around the world and you’re blogging about the Sex and the City movie?

I find myself thinking about my time in Asia a lot these days. Most of my friends have left Korea and continued traveling or taken new jobs abroad. A handful of friends and coworkers are still there, but they’ve moved on with their lives, as have Erin and I. We’ve finally joined the workforce, a world that just two years ago seemed more strange and foreign than an English camp on the other side of the globe.

Taking time to live and travel in a new part of the world wasn’t the conventional way of doing things, and it certainly wasn’t the path that my family wanted me to take. But in the end, things worked themselves out. I saved money and gained a year of hardcore life experience, used said money to travel to nearly a dozen countries and gain even more hardcore life experience, and made the executive decision to move to Washington over the summer — a decision I haven’t once regretted. I have friends who jumped into careers straight after graduation and now, a year or two or three down the line, wish they’d taken some time to do something random and unpredictable.

So, Korea. I miss the bright lights and the weird ads and the crazy superstitions (fan death, anyone?). I miss the spicy food, the sweet treats from the local ho dduk lady and even the pungent, nauseating smell of the seafood restaurant down the street from SEV. I miss the well-behaved kids (especially after yesterday’s Metro ride from hell, courtesy of two dozen students from Woodrow Wilson high school), going out for Indian food with Korean coworkers and sitting down for a nice Shabbat meal at Chabad.

Kindy Hair Salon class. I still can't believe I got paid to do this.

Rainbow poo sculptures. One of the first things I learned about Korea: talking about poo is basically a national pastime. Just accept it and move on.


Olympic Park

My co-worker Winnie got married and all of the teachers were invited to the wedding. After the ceremony, she and her husband greeted each table at the reception wearing hanbok, traditional Korean dress.

Purim in Korea

Galbi and soju -- that's what Korea is all about

My fave (Korean) dish: dolsat bibimbap -- rice, veggies, beef and a raw egg served in a hot stone pot

My neighborhood, Suyu, at sunset.

This post has taken me a few days because I can’t go more than a few minutes without mindlessly browsing through the thousands of pictures I have on iPhoto. As time goes on and Korea becomes more and more of a distant memory and it becomes much easier to romanticize my time there. I miss Korea, I miss my friends and I miss the feeling of freedom that I had there. But teaching in Seoul for one year and making a real life for myself there are very different things.

That’s where my head has been today. In between the craziness of wrapping up at my current job, getting ready for the new one next month, moving into a new apartment and a brief trip up to New York, I’ve had Seoul on the brain. Up tomorrow? My post-Korea year.