So, I am currently writing this during my bajillion hour long layover in Beijing. I am, however, going to have to post it later as the Chinese clearly hate me and Facebook and WordPress because it won’t let me on either of those sites. Or any site that might amuse me/keep me from being bored out of my ever loving mind for the next 5 ½ hours. Suck it, China. If it were not for that gargantuan wall that I so desperately want to see, I would NOT being coming back. Despite the introduction, this post is not actually about how crappy my journey has been so far, or even about the further crappiness I expect to endure until the glorious moment when my plane touches down at SFO. As my year is up, I wanted to reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly that Korea has to offer and also what I’m most excited to return to in the good, ‘ol U.S. of A.
Despite my everlasting love for Korean food, my kids are what I’m going to miss the most. Especially my kinders. I can’t believe that I didn’t get up this morning and go shake my sillies out with them. Or that I’ll never pinch those adorable little cheeks of theirs or hear Angela call me “Beautiful Rainbow Princess Megan Teacher.” (That’s my official title now, in case you were wondering, and I expect you all to start using it post haste.) I wish that I could watch them grow and see the wonderful people they will become. That, I think, is reason numero uno that I’m not sure teaching is for me long term. As much as I love my job, I get so attached to those adorable little faces and it’s so hard to see them go. I’m not sure I could handle that year in and year out. I am also going to miss my amazing coworkers (both waygookin and Korean) who have helped me navigate the world that is being a foreign teacher in Korea. I have learned so much during the past year, and am excited to see what year two has to offer.
I will also miss the food horribly and terribly. I have been spoiled by the amazing cuisine in Jeonju and am worried that wherever I end up next won’t hold a candle to what I’m used to. Guess I’ll be making lots of trips to Jeonju next year! I will miss how friendly and helpful the Korean people are, on the whole. The taxi drivers that ask a million questions or the random stranger that comes up and starts talking to you because they are so eager to practice their English and want to know more about you. I will miss my ghetto apartment. It was my home for over a year and it holds so many great memories. I will miss how cheap everything is here. Like, SUPER cheap. And I’m cheap. So it works out pretty nicely. I will miss the “yogio button” at restaurants. Best. Idea. Ever. It’s a little button at your table that you press whenever you need something from your waiter. And other than that, he/she never bothers you. No, “Hi! I’m Kimmy! I’m going to be your server this evening and check on you every 15 seconds and annoy you so much that you regret leaving the house!” Or, conversely, “Hi. I’m Brad. I’m your server. You probably won’t see me again for, like, 20 minutes. Hope you’re not too hungry…” It makes the dining experience much more pleasant. I will miss hanging out in front of convenient stores having a few drinks with my friends. Seriously, that’s a thing here. A socially acceptable, not at all white trash thing. And it’s surprisingly fun. I will also miss all of the wonderful new friends I’ve made this past year. I hope to stay in contact with them all, but am sad to know that in reality, some of them I will probably never see again. Thank goodness for Facebook! (Except in China.)
I will not miss being gawked at. I will not miss being given the disapproving once over because of my weight. I will not miss being told I’m fat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m FULLY aware of what I look like. But it still sucks to hear, like, on a daily basis. And it makes it really difficult to feel good about the 35 lbs I’ve lost since I’ve been here. I will not miss the smog. I will not miss the grocery stores here. Unless you go right when they open or really late at night, they are insanely packed. And they have people yelling out specials all the time trying to get you to buy things and it’s super obnoxious. If I’m solo, I just put on my ipod and tune everyone out. I won’t miss the few Koreans who don’t like you because you’re a foreigner. On the whole, my experience has been really good. But the negative experiences seem to make a bigger impact than the positive ones, sadly. I will not miss my last class on MWF. Seriously, they were all jerks. Middle school teachers – I don’t know how you do it. You have my utmost respect because if I taught kids that age, I’d end up in jail. I will not miss the lunch lady. She was massively unpleasant. Even the Koreans didn’t like her, but they have to tolerate her because she’s older than they are. Homie don’t play that. Respect is a two way street. She was really nice to me on my last day and gave me an extra sandwich and I spent the entire day being worried that she’d tried to poison me. She’s that kind of awful. I will not miss my shower. Or my bathroom on the whole, really. I will not miss my college dorm room sized fridge. And I will not miss surprise tentacles in my food.
Of course, first and foremost, I am most excited to see my family when I get back (read cats). I especially can’t wait to see my sister. She won’t get home until almost Christmas, which will make almost a year and a half apart. Which is balls. She says she’s going to come visit me during year two, and if she doesn’t I might cut her. Because a year without your sister is just too long. Are you reading this, Kristin? If you don’t make a Korea trip happen, I WILL CUT YOU. And you’ve been warned, so I don’t even think I can get in trouble for it. Wait, maybe that’s not quite how the system works… Whatever. The point is, make the damned trip! I can’t wait to see my kitties and poopsies. Especially Abby. I have been waiting over a year to have some couch cuddle time with my favorite dog/sasquatch hybrid. I can’t wait to have good Mexican food. A year without Mexican food is also too long. I can’t wait to see the stars again. You can almost never see them in Korea, and that sucks. I can’t wait to drive (providing I get my license back, but that’s a whole other story) and sing in the car. I can’t wait to experience the holiday season properly. My mom is going to kill me by the time Christmas is over and probably wish I’d just stayed in Korea. I can’t wait to drink decent beer without having to offer up my first born to the bartender. I can’t wait to watch TV. I have kept up on a few of my shows, but I have not just sat in front of a TV and vegged since I got to Korea. And I super-dee-duper cannot wait to go shopping. It is very difficult to get my size clothing in Korea and the selection is pretty limited (read unattractive). Also, all of the bottoms I have saw fit to die two weeks before I left. I am currently sitting in the airport in my last pair of yoga pants that are slightly too big and in the last 24 hours have sprung a hole on the inner thigh. I just pray they make it until I get to San Francisco or things are going to get really awkward…
So, there you have it. The good, the bad and the ugly. Korea friends – I miss you already and can’t wait to see you again! Friends and family stateside – it’s been too long! I can’t wait to see you all and share my amazing adventure with you! Also, I’ve posted a few of my favorite photos from the last year for your viewing pleasure.