Tag Archives: navel gazing

Another Year Over

31 Dec

January 2011 I decided I wanted to spend a year working abroad before I had too many commitments in the UK to want to leave. In February 2012I left for South Korea. Now 2013 is arriving and it will be the year I return home. How can 2013 measure up to the year I decided to leave, or the year I actually left? I don’t know what I’m going to do when I get home, not really. A lot of things have changed whilst I’ve been away, but the one thing I really have learned from spending this year living and working on the other side of the world is that who you are doesn’t change. I haven’t changed. I’ve probably learned a lot (a smattering of Korean, how to swim rather than sink in a classroom of teenagers, to smile in the face of confusion, to drink through culture clashes, to correctly identify stealth tentacles at least 80% of the time) but I am not going to be fundamentally altered by a change of scenery.

What did I want when I came to Korea? I wanted to experience another culture in the way you really only can when you make your living as part of it. Teaching has been the perfect way to do that, I think, and I have had a great time doing so. I don’t have the intrepid backpacker mentality (the very idea exhausts me) so the teacher’s lifestyle has also allowed for me to take my exploring as slow as I like. My generous and inquisitive students have also given me a wonderful inroad into the culture and mindset of South Koreans, and in turn given me a chance to reflect on my own culture and how it has affected my thinking.

Some aspects of living abroad for a year (and it will be nearly 13 months since I left, when I finally return in March) have been difficult. I’ve experienced homesickness, and more recently the strange feeling that my home as I left it no longer exists – things that changed whilst I was away feel unreal to some extent, and I imagine confronting those changes on my return is going to, ultimately, be quite upsetting.

I am looking forward to going home though, and seeing all the people I have sorely missed in the last year. I’m also looking forward to eating all the food I’ve missed – it’s amazing how prominent things like roast potatoes, pies, and cider have become in my dreams.

During the next year I’m hoping to move into a new home with wonderful new housemates (and, it seems, a inevitable menagerie of pets), start my own business, and find some kind of gainful employment (fingers crossed). Before that I’ll also teach winter camp, show my brother the wonders of South Korea when he arrives in a couple of weeks, and visit Japan.

Who knows what will happen after that?

Happy new year, everyone. x

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