Jan 25, 2014

Hello again, and goodbye

Well, here we are.

It's been almost five months since I left Korea. I think the reason it's taken me so long to write this post-- this one, final goodbye-- is that I'm only beginning to process the enormity of what that year meant to me. I've only just begun to say "that" year instead of "this" year. It is slowly becoming nothing but a memory, much as I try to keep it alive. Conversations with my tribe in Kimchiland are becoming less frequent-- due in no small part to the ache that rises in my heart when I think about them still out there, having adventures.

I haven't written because it hurt too much. It still hurts too much.

I don't regret my decision to come back, although I imagined my life would be quite different from what it is now. I had visions of returning to the frantic familiarity of Boston, or sinking my teeth into yet another sprawling, enigmatic city-- New York.

But the universe had other plans, apparently. While I was wiling away the early days of my post-Korea funemployment at my parent's house in San Diego, lamenting my apparent inability to get noticed by east coast employers, an opportunity dropped into my lap that I couldn't say no to.

 So now, for an hour a day, a tiny corner of the TV airwaves in San Diego are mine to control. It's turning into quite an adventure of its own. It's not my dream job, it's not what I see myself doing with my life in five years, but it's a stepping stone. It's a waypoint. It's a job, and for that I'm very grateful. I'm extremely aware that it's a rarity for my generation to have a job with upward mobility in a field related to my degree.  It's the unicorn.

If you're reading this, I'd like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I don't care if you've been with me from the beginning or if this is the first entry you've ever read. The love and support I received over the past year has encouraged me not to give up on my dream of writing for a living. It's a dream that I still intend to pursue, and this entry is the first step towards that. This is the first piece of writing I've produced in five months. I'm coming out of hibernation.

This is the end of this blog, but if (no Meg, when) I begin writing again on a regular basis, I'll make sure to link to it here.

So in the meantime, hello again, and goodbye.  It's been swell. 

Aug 26, 2013

Goodbye, Korea

I'm sitting at the airport, waiting to board my flight. I've said all my goodbyes, checked my bags, and am currently coping with the traumatizing loss of my Alien Registration Card. They took it away at immigration. I'm a little bit devastated.

I'm starting to gain some perspective on all that has happened this year. A couple weeks ago, I had a conversation with a friend about my experience here (actually, he was interviewing me for a project). I told him I've been thinking a lot about what I'll say when people ask me, "So, how was Korea?" How do I begin to answer that? It's impossible to sum up what this year has meant to me. It's been the most amazing year of my life. I've done things I would never dreamed of and seen things I could have only imagined. I've visited nine foreign countries, including Korea. I've met people I will never forget. I have had the opportunity to have an impact on a child's life, even for a brief span of time.

It's still difficult to say how much I've changed as a person. I know I have, but trying to pinpoint it is like trying to figure out what you look like without a mirror. I think I'll need the mirror of my former life and people who knew me Before in order to see how I've changed.

Yes, Before is capitalized. There will always be the time Before Korea, and now the time After Korea. 

This isn't my last post on this blog. My journey isn't over yet. It is, however, coming to a close sooner rather than later. I'd like to take this moment to thank everybody who has joined me on this adventure, whether you're a personal friend or you found my blog through various internet means.  Writing this blog has been a way not only for me to share my stories with you, but to keep them for myself to look back on in the times to come.

Ok, this is starting to feel final, so I'll stop  there. It's not final. That time is coming soon, but it's not here yet.

So until then: So long, Korea. Catch you on the flip side.

Asiapalooza Photos!

As promised, here are the photos from Asiapalooza

Things I Will Miss About Korea

-3G on the subway
-being able to charge my phone literally anywhere, including bars
-elevator buttons that cancel if you press them again 
-key codes to apartments
-dweigi galbi
-dalk galbi
-all the galbis, really
-being invisible to sidewalk solicitors
-cheap contacts and glasses
-national health insurance
-drinking in public
-만원 ($10) shoes
-5천원 ($5) clothes
-천원 ($1) socks
-$16 salon haircuts 
-no tipping
-busses that are timed to the second
-no last call
-McDonald's delivery
-feeling safe walking around at 2am
-this view

-a lot of other things that won't occur to me until I'm home

Aug 24, 2013

Smile Because It Happened


Oh god, I'm so relieved. Talk about stress.

Now I'm just cleaning my apartment and watching Doctor Who to avoid confronting my emotions. NBD.

Friday night was the big farewell tour. It was just about perfect. We started at a bar that we found our first weekend in Hongdae, when we were just wee K-babies. Then we went to a music lounge that has become a favorite haunt of the Seoulmates, followed by a stop at my favorite rock club and ending at The Park. It was Hongdae in a nutshell. The only thing missing was noraebang and the makgeolli man.

Last night I met some friends up and we watched the water show at Banpo bridge, almost exactly a year after I saw it the first time.

 (Top: last year. Bottom: Saturday night. What a difference a year makes. For starters, this time we knew what side of the river to be on. )

I've had to say goodbye to a lot of wonderful people in the last few days. Each one has been riddled with promises of messages and future visits, but we all know the odds are slim. I do know that I've met people here whom I will never forget, and I can enjoy knowing that I have friends in cities and countries around the world. I'm already planning my grand couchsurfing tour of the UK in two years, which will consist largely of going to various cities and calling up my friends saying, "I'm in town. Come pick me up."

But I digress. I only have a handful of goodbyes left, but they will be some of the hardest. I don't think it's really hit me that I'm leaving for good. My brain can't quite process anything that comes after the hug I will give my mom when I land in LAX.

When I was growing up, I was a ballet dancer. I was in The Nutcracker every year for nine years running (I know). Every year after the show ended, I would get really sad for a couple days. My mom called them post-performance blues. She would always tell me, "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

My Korean post-performance blues are still to come. I can feel them lurking, like a dark, scary thing hiding around a corner. But when they come (and I have a nasty feeling it'll be sometime around when my plane takes off), my mom's voice will ring in my head, reminding me, "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

Aug 22, 2013

The Beginning of the End

The time has come, the walrus said...

Today is my last day of school. I just said goodbye to my students for the last time. Each of my classes today made me a farewell poster.


I gave a 3-sentence speech in Korean to the teaching staff during a meeting this morning (nailed it, by the way). I told them how much I love the school and the students and thanked them for everything this year.

 Yesterday the younger teachers surprised me with a cake.

Tonight I have a farewell tour of Hongdae with the Seoulmates.

I'm sorry my writing is so bland and stilted. I'm just feeling really drained. It's possible all of this hasn't hit me yet. It also doesn't help that I've been up late almost every night packing and meeting people up to say goodbye.

I'm sure I'll be incredibly retrospective and long winded once I'm back in America and have hours and hours of downtime at my parent's house, so sit tight.

In the meantime, 화이팅!

Aug 21, 2013

T-Minus 1 Week

One week from today, I will be in America.

It's funny how time seems to speed up when you least want it to. My week has been so chock-a-block full of dinner dates, errands, and packing that as soon as I get out of school I'm going nonstop until about now... which is 1am. I do have downtime in school, but that only serves to heighten my anxiety. There's not a lot of things that are worse for moving-related stress than having to sit idly in an office and think about all the things you could be doing. I'll try to write more once things calm down a bit (i.e. once I move out of my apartment on Sunday and into Coworker's house, where she graciously invited me to stay for the 2 days I'm homeless). But for now, just know that I'm stressed, excited, sad, happy, overwhelmed, and anxious. So, just all of the feelings, really.

More soon.