Sunday, August 11, 2013

안녕히계세요, Korea!

In March of 2011 I was sitting in my friend's kitchen in Arizona late one night sipping tequila and talking about our futures (because those two mix all too well). There were three of us, all recent college graduates and all trying to navigate the beginning of our 'adult' lives. Both of them were teachers finishing up their first year. I was coming off of a bad car accident and a 6-month stint of unemployment and sleeping on my brother's bunk bed. One of the teachers, Danielle, is a good friend of mine. We've been friends since elementary school, and she seems to know what I'm thinking and how I should be feeling before I do. Her and her friend Sarah were talking about teaching jobs abroad. Danielle had made some close Korean friends in college, and she's always had the idea of taking a year or two to teach overseas.

It sounded like an awesome adventure, and the next morning I found a recruiting agency in Korea and started sending out applications. I wasn't expecting much: at that time, my college graduation swagger was shattered by unemployment. Fortunately, I didn't have to wait too long. Within a couple days I was talking to Joseph and Hero at HandsKorea. Within a week, my documents were being processed. And, within a month, I had my first job offer and was prepping to go. Danielle and Sarah shortly followed, and we met regularly (and still do) while working and living here in Korea.

That was two and a half years ago. Now I'm less than two weeks from returning to the United States...possibly for good.

I've hit that critical point where I can see the end. It's coming. I've always known about it. I've had my flight booked for months now, and I always knew that all of this was temporary. But that last day has always been far away in the distance, just out of sight and out of mind. Now it's real, and things are starting to happen. I've already shipped boxes home, transferred contracts over, moved out...it's all coming so fast.

I'm not old by any means (I turn 25 tomorrow, in case you wanted to send me some cake or something), but I'm getting old enough to have enough experiences to look back on and realize how damn lucky I've been. Decisions, both good and bad, have brought me here. I'm leaving Korea, and I'm not sure when I'm coming back. It's been incredibly special looking back at my time here, and I'm not quite sure how to say goodbye.

I'll give it a shot though :)