Twelve months we have spent together. Can you believe it??
I was a bit apprehensive about coming to this beautiful land; nervous and wondering if I will be liked and accepted in the culture. I couldn’t speak the language, I didn’t listen to any k-pop and I certainly never tried kimchi before. I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve been told not to go into something with any expectations, or I’ll just set myself up for disappointment if the outcome is less than ideal.
So I got on that airplane, making sure I didn’t pack any preconceived notions with me. And here we are – a year later – with no disappointments and lots of stories to tell.
You welcomed me with open arms. My co-teachers, aka my fairy godmothers, have been so supportive. My colleagues have been so warm and friendly; talking to me in English and me attempting to talk to them in Korean.
I know some people have perceptions about a race unlike their own, which you will unfortunately find all over the world. But since being here, I have not come across prejudice, believe it or not…or at least not in front of me. I know I stick out like a sore thumb – I have not seen one other foreigner in my area! And yes I may get some looks on the street, and people want to take a photo with me, but it is more out of curiosity. And hey, I’m curious too. I’m curious about this culture and I want to embrace it for all its worth.
I look beyond the surface and see the good in people. An old woman on the bus got up out of her seat for me because she saw me struggling with my big bags of groceries. A young gentleman ran through a crowd of people and looked all over for me to give me my ID card because I dropped it on the ground. It’s the people that represent you – the people I have come into contact with and formed friendships with – that make me love this country even more.
It’s not just the people that make me love you; it’s the places, too. You’ve showed me your natural wonders, giving me breathtaking views of the cityscapes high into the hiking trails. You’ve let me bask in the sun on the beautiful beaches of your coast. You’ve allowed me to meet some of the most amazing people whom I wouldn’t have met if I didn’t come to you first. And there is still so much more of you I need to see: your ski slopes in Pyeongchang; your beautiful temples where I hope to do a temple stay; your greenest of green tea fields in Boseong… the list goes on!
Korea, I hope you’re ready for me to continue living out my travel dreams, accomplishing my career goals, and finding who I truly am and what I aspire to be.