Today marks T-100 days left on our EPIK contract. Let the countdown begin! I guess technically 99 days, if you don’t count the actual last day of our contract, but you know. Math and stuff.

Everyone says the last 3 months are quite the tumble down a steep hill. Yes, I’m moving home to America. I am excited to spend the summer with my friends and family and food that won’t make me sick and air that is clear and a language I understand fluently. I am happy about all of those things.

But I am not happy about so much more! I am really starting to crack the code on the language here. Yes, it would take maybe another year or so of studying to be completely fluent, but I AM GETTING THERE! I understand A LOT of what I hear. I don’t always know how to respond, especially when it comes to knowing how to address the person you are talking to and ending the verbs socially appropriately. But I know that when I return home, I’ll basically be throwing away my Korean skills. Big, HUGE sigh of sadness.

I am making so many Korean friends. This is no small feat! Koreans are very private, and it can take a long time “break” into a friendship. They just don’t develop the same way here as they do at home. But I’ve been successful! In the last week, I’ve hung out with Koreans two evenings and one all day on Sunday. I hung out with another foreigner just once. This, in my opinion, is awesome. I love being part of the lives of Koreans – I’m their token white friend!!!! (I love being the minority.) And I love learning more about Korean society and sharing with someone whose background is very different than my own. I love my friends here, and although many have promised to visit or have plans to move to America in the future for work or school, well… it’s going to be sad to say goodbye.

Another big deal: I am a very good EFL teacher. Like, I lead classes completely on my own with elementary school kids who do not know my language very well. And I teach them – I can see them learning! And I know enough Korean to not need a translator very often. My co-teachers lounge around in the back of the classroom, only stepping in when absolutely necessary (it’s going to SUCK for them when they get a new foreign teacher next fall who has to be completely trained and has no Korean skills whatsoever.) But, back to me – it is, like, honestly disturbing that I am leaving a lucrative employment contract for a job that I love and am good at. And a job that I am technically not qualified to teach in America (I mean, for private companies, yes, but not really for public institutions like I am here).

Speaking of employment – talk about freaking out.

And speaking of school – I love my kids so much! My students make my day, every day. When I told the sixth graders that I am leaving in three and a half months, they were SO SAD!!! I wanted to run around the room and scoop them each up into big hugs. 승아 came to my room after school and said, “Teacher, please don’t go.” Oh girl, get out of my room so Kimmy Teacher can crawl under her desk and sob into a blanket.

Almost everyone I have known who has left Korea left READY. They were ready WELL before it was time to pack their bags. And I know I would be looking at life very differently if the plan were to stay (I mean, I would have to get a job at a university and turn my life on its head a bit, anyway). But I’m not staying, I’m leaving. I’m leaving something that is good. My life here is good. It is very good, and very comfortable, and most days I believe that leaving is a fine decision, but not necessarily the smartest or best decision. But it’s the one we’ve made, and we’re going to try to figure out if we can force and fit ourselves back into American life. I don’t look forward to it, really. But I’ll try to make these last 100 days really count, so that when I look back, I will know that I didn’t waste one day.