I’ve written a few times about how hard it is to stay, and yet how easy it is to make the decision to stay anyway. On one hand, the money, the lifestyle, and the adventure of living abroad make the decision to remain an expatriate easy. But on the other hand, the constant “other”-ness, inability to communicate, and insoluble cultural differences can make the going tough.

There are so many things I would do differently if I’d known from the start that we’d stay here for three years. I would have brought different things with me that would have saved me money (clothes wise, household wise, food wise). I would have bought a car my first year (or at least a scooter sooner). We would have opted for getting our own housing. To name a few. And honestly, if we’d done all that from the beginning, if we’d been more comfortable throughout… it’s definitely possible we wouldn’t be looking forward to moving home in June. Because we’d possibly be staying here indefinitely. It’s a good life, and I understand completely why people do it.

But we’re tired, and put all our eggs in the baskets of the friends we made our first year, not making an enormous effort to get to know more people along the way. Don’t get me wrong, we have made lots of new friends over the years – but since every year felt like it might be the last year we’d be here, it didn’t always seem worth the energy to put ourselves out there to make more friendships. This is another reason we’re ready to pack it up and head home. Are friends going to sustain us if we can’t get jobs when we get home? I don’t even care. I miss them too much.

So we are heading home. And we’ve finally reached the last leg of our time in Korea. The school year started, all but a couple of friends we know are gone, and we are more or less bored and alone during the week (at least we have each other). I spend a lot of spare time reading, watching TV, and making lists of things we need to do before we leave. Now that it’s getting warmer, we’ve actually started attacking that list.

Knowing we are leaving… you know, after all the give and take, all the angst, all the frustrations and stomachaches and burst pipes and awkward social interactions, after administrators sexually harassing me, after missing weddings and funerals and births and birthdays and graduations and just about everything… I am in a little baby depression of realizing I have to give this all up so soon.

To most people this is just something we did to make money to pay off loans, and of course that was a contributing factor to the continued stay. But Korea has been my home and has changed me. I am the weirdo who lived abroad too long, yes. I’m also the stranger danger who is going to be awkward and a little difficult.

When I left America, I was only a couple of years out of college, and kind of a naive, silly rube. I was diplomatic to a fault, mostly because 1) I think it’s a more reasonable way to interact with people from different backgrounds and opinions and educations, and 2) it’s an easier way to go through life than fighting voraciously for the things you care about. Yes, easier. It’s easier. It is.

But I’m not much like that anymore. In some ways, I’m over arguing. I’m quieter and seemingly more passive. Maybe I’ve lost faith in humanity- no, in Americans. I have. I don’t fit in and I just dont understand or respect a lot of the idiocy I see. But I’m not really passive – I’m much more willing to strike back if I hear rudeness, injustice, or ignorance. But I don’t want to be another voice among the clang and pounding that’s already out there.

I also feel frustrated as time goes by that I can’t seem to figure out how I’m supposed to fit into life. I want to buy a house and I want to have a job that I’m good at and that is good for the world. I want to go back to school and have more experience, but as time goes on, almost all of those seem fairly impossible. I want to work and study and be really amazing at something. But I don’t even know for sure what that something is. I have an idea, but I can’t get my foot in the door anywhere, and I don’t have the resources available for me to force it. It’s frustrating.

I guess that’s it. Just needed to process that.

Advertisements