With my new home strapped to my back, I landed in the Philippines; happy and eager to commence the 3 month journey laid out before me. Korea has given me so much that it’s still hard to swallow the fact that I’m not going back. The place I called home, though, only for only a brief moment in time was wrapped in what felt like an eternity.
When I came to Korea I had no culture shock…which, ironically, was shocking.
I had no expectations because I didn’t know what to expect. I was entering unchartered territory…at least in the realm of my life. I remember thinking “this is different. Different is good” and I seamlessly began my life in Korea as though I had always lived there. I went out every weekend, I went on weekend trips at least twice a month and made friends with ease. There was no process of assimilation because there was no process.
When I think about Korea I mostly think about the people with whom I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing such a dynamic country with.
We laughed together and cried together. Carried each other home from Hongdae. Stayed out partying until 630am. Unleashed the performers within us at Norebong with help from friends … and Soju.
Gone to brunch at Sujis the morning after. Gone on bus trips together. Hiked mountains together.
Some people say that the hardest part is the beginning. For me, it’s the end.
Just like climbing a mountain, excitement and curiosity define the commencement. “What will the summit look like? Can I see my house from there?” So you put forth all your energy to reach the peak, enjoy it for a while and then begin the journey down. Now comes the difficulty, because your energy is seriously lacking and at some point you start asking yourself: when am I going to be off this mountain? Is this over now? Are we there yet? In hiking, and congruently in all other experiences the beginning is defined by hope and the end by desperate longing for it to just end already.
Korea was a mountain in more ways than I care to admit. Yes, it was hard at times but I loved
almost every minute of it. Which is why I can’t/don’t want to go back.
Going back indicates that something in the present isn’t enough.
That whatever you’re going through isn’t living up to your expectations. Going back means that you are living within the memories of moments which have come to pass; having only their gilded sheen to lead you once more into their false sense of pretentious happiness. The one that conveniently glosses over all the hardships you had in your experience, so that you can look back in a few years and say “that was so much better than where I am now.”
To go back and attempt to recreate the past is to say in no humble terms that the present isn’t enough.
Everything has its moment in the sun; a moment in which to shine. But ultimately, eventually, night will fall. It is therefore in our best interest to know when experiences have met their expiration date. When the moment has ended, because even the best times of your life will end.
It is simultaneously terrifying and exciting.
But isn’t that life, though? A collection of moments- beginning and ending- shared with people. For it is the people with whom you choose to share that experience that make it worthwhile.
Because what would anything be without someone to share it with? The best part is that at any significant (or otherwise) moment, we are surrounded by people in a similar situation.
When you graduate high school.
When you move to college.
When you get your first adult job.
When you travel.
When you move back home.
At any moment there is a handful of people who are sharing an experience with you- which in some way means you’re never really alone. Even when you move to a new country by yourself. Even when you start a new job etc.
It is because of the people we share things things with that we change. It is unavoidable.
You take bits of others with you- memories, behaviors, feelings etc. We are forever changed for having known one another. Forever changed for having shared an experience with each other.
Regardless of the extent to which you changed- you have changed.
The upside to this is that of course, no matter where we go, or where we end up we are always going to have Korea. We will always have Seoul. But no matter what, chingus don’t say annyeong, we say see you later. ❤
To follow my adventures post Korea, and some of my writing in general, follow my new travel blog ❤
One thought on “See you next time”
Beautiful post Molly. It’s really, really hard to go back because reverse-culture shock is way more challenging to deal with. But it doesn’t have to be going back to your past. You can go back to the same place but still create a new future 🙂 Chin up and happy travels in the meantime!