Sunday, July 29, 2012

Goodbye, Korea

I will leave Korea in a few days. After two years of teaching English in a rural mountain town in the middle of the country, I will be setting out for my much beloved Japan, where I will teach English in a rural mountain town in the middle of Kyushu. Same as it ever was, I suppose.

I've been mulling over what these two years have meant to me and I'm stumped. My emotions are not extreme. I'm not collapsed in a corner, crying because I have to go (although I have cried a few times in the last week). I'm not in a rush to leave, either. Korea has been very good to me (although there were many times when I was less than pleased with my host culture). I wish I had something profound to say about my time in Korea—and maybe I will in a year or so after I've had time to process the experience—but for now I will let my mind wander into the recent past and write out the memories that some to the surface.

I remember

my first day of class, all those students smiling and clamoring to get my attention. Some of them are still at school while many are not, having graduated and moved on. I think I will remember my students most of all. They will remain my strongest connection to Korea.

the changing of the seasons reflected in the rice fields around my town: the sparse shoots of spring; the overwhelming lushness and green of high summer; the ripeness of golden fields, ready to be felled; and the sadness of the winter fields, temporarily abandoned.

so much beautiful food. Korea is a food lover's paradise.

the kindnesses of people, both local and foreign. I was lucky enough to land in a wonderful part of Korea (but I'll bet every visiting English teacher says that about where they live) with a caring and supportive group of foreigners that were there whenever I needed them. I will dearly miss the friends I have made.

a beautiful and sad girl that I hope will someday find happiness.

Korea, I am a better person for having lived in your care for two years. I leave on good terms and hope to see you many, many times again. 안녕!

This is the final post for this blog. As I'm starting a new adventure, I thought it was appropriate to start a new blog. You can find me at Bungotaketa.