Dear South Korea

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Dear S. Korea,

I’m leaving soon. So I am reflecting on the memories we’ve had together. I was with you for nearly 380 days! Yes, I left you for a short vacation here and there but we basically spent an entire year together.

Spend enough time any where and there will be good days and bad. You made me laugh, you made me cry. I felt bliss and frustrated, thrilled and bored, I suppose all the average feelings someone has in a typical amount of time.

To be honest, I’m not sure if we ever completely understood each other. I felt like I tried. I gave an honest effort to understand your side of things. To look at your past, your trends, and not judge too quickly. It’s just at the end of the day we’re too different. I felt too much of myself slipping away to continue on.

So yes, maybe we didn’t understand each other and maybe we never will but I haven’t even been gone a day and I’ve already made a list of what I’ll potentially miss.

For one, that saying “Work hard, play hard(er).” Yeah I think I’ll miss that. Most nights I couldn’t even last. Midnight is the time to grab dinner and start strolling not sleep! You got me on that one Korea, you really know how to have a good time.

I learned neon flashing lights don’t necessarily mean that’s where the party’s at, your streets light up the night with colors galore. I suppose I’ll miss that too.

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Ya know what I’ll really miss, Korea? When the air was warm, lights flashed above our heads, smoke lingered from the surrounding tables filling my nostrils with the smell of Korean barbecue. Everyone appeared happy, laughing with friends, partners, and coworkers.

The street lined with flyers displaying hot chicks advertising the newest bar and drink specials. People shuffled along eyeing all the tables filled with food. All of this and that moment I’d sit back, blink, and realize, I’m in Korea, that’s what I’ll really miss.

Eating out was one of my favorite activities, for a variety of reasons. I was never bothered by a server working for a tip. Whenever we needed more of something I’d push the button on the table that created a distant Ding, answered with a chorused Ne (yes), and in a flash someone would be next to the table, ready to serve. The best part? Besides not tipping? No tax. On anything. The price is one solid number that doesn’t change. Yeah, that I will miss!

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Along those lines, those late nights I stayed out with friends, I always trusted you Korea. I walked home alone many times. Late at night. In the dark. I crossed paths with men, women, cars, taxis, bicycles and never felt scared or threatened. I don’t know if I could say that about most neighborhoods back home.

I’ve got two words for you Korea: Gwangan Bridge. Now that is quite the sight! I don’t know what it was about this bridge, maybe because it touched both points of the ocean or had memorizing colors that caught my eye.

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I’ll miss that beach and specifically that bridge, especially during the fall. The nights were warm, the crowds were slim, the waves softly crashed onto the sand and it was relatively quiet, something we all know I need. It was one of my favorite places.

Finally, the reason I came to Korea, to teach. I can’t honestly say I’ll miss teaching here but what I will miss are some of those kids!

 

Some are truly the funniest kids I’ve ever met and have brought countless smiles to my face. I have my favorites (who doesn’t?) and I only understood about half of what they were saying but I will truly miss them!

Their smiles, their laughs, their tears, their endless peace signs and “kimmchii!” when taking a picture and most of all their hilarious stories!

I’ve become so accustomed to Korean kids, it may take awhile to get used to American kids again! Reverse culture shock here I come!

It’s been quite a year Korea! We’ve experienced a lot together. Maybe to you I’m just another foreign face that came to teach some English. But you — you Korea are going to be the subject of my stories for a long time. You’ve played a big role in the person I am now.

I appreciate things in an entirely different way. I’ve made a connection to Korea and developed lifelong friendships. My perspective about the world and view of different societies have evolved. I’m different now.

I’m leaving, ready for a newLife and I’m so excited to see what it is!

Sincerely,

Crystal

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