Endings Lead to Beginnings

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March 11th 2012
Published: March 11th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

<span><span>In February, I finished my first year contract here, and I began a new one. <span> This post won’t be so much about living in Korea, as about living in a country as a foreigner.<span> This year has flown by, mostly because I had such fun experiences with new friends.<span> I met all my Daegu best friends when I first arrived in Korea a year ago.<span> Some of them, I met in the airport in Seoul my second day in this country.<span> I of course was really apprehensive about moving to a new country, but I lucked out big time by meeting these women.<span> I became closer to them than I ever expected.

<span>Having foreign (American, English, Australian) friends was really helpful for me. We went through the same experiences— moving to a different continent without strong ties here, having difficult (or awesome) coteachers, occasionally being homesick, teaching for the first time.<span> We shared our takes on Korean culture. We formed our own community, our own culture. These are people who cooked for each other, got each other a bit drunk, went on trips together, and spent evenings and weekends shopping, drinking tea, or learning to knit or speak Korean.

<span>I had really been dreading the end of the contract year, because of all my besties, no one else was staying in Daegu.<span> Three decided to move back home, and two decided to move to Seoul.<span> Although I was dreading it, I had a pretty positive attitude and realized I have other groups of friends, and a lot of activities going on here.<span> However, the leaving time caught me off-guard.<span> I only got back from Hawaii 2 days before most people left, so everything was abrupt.<span> As they left, I realized that my entire perception of this city is shaped by how I experienced it with them.<span> I usually am the one leaving, and for the first time in a long time, I felt again how terrible it is to be the one left.<span> Those who leave end up in new surroundings, and although they can look back at the good times they had with sadness, they have a new situation to focus on.<span> For me, I’m daily confronted with the same old surroundings, but none of my favorite people.

<span>More than that, their leaving awakened the realization that things will never be the same again.<span> Our wonderful little group in a foreign land scattered to different parts of the world.<span> Sure, we’ll email or Skype—stay in touch, but really, it’s quite different from in-person interactions and wanderings.<span> Luckily, though, I have a bond with them for life. <span> They understand, and will always understand, what it was like to live here, as foreigners, when we did, with the other people we knew.<span> I talk to my friends and family about living here.<span> I write blogs.<span> But, I could talk about it for the rest of the year, and there would be things you all wouldn’t realize.<span> That’s why it’s so crucial that I have them, even if they all left me.<span> But, it’s a sad reality of living in a foreign place—in the end, most people, including you, leave.

<span>To be honest, their leaving has been really difficult.<span> I was pretty busy last week with different groups of people, but this week it hit me hard. This week was the first week of school.<span> The other native English-speaking teacher, with whom I shared an office, a classroom, and coteacher horror stories, also left.<span> I am now the only foreigner at my school. There have been hundreds of times already that I want to sit up from my desk and tell Brenton something—maybe to comment on how the Wednesday “Western” lunch wasn’t too Western, as usual; maybe it’s to ask him to fix the internet, maybe it’s to tell him some ridiculous thing our main co-teacher told me.<span> But, no, my office is in the basement, empty except for me.<span> And cold, now that they won’t turn the heat on down here, and I knocked over and broke the prohibited personal heater we were using.

<span>If this post sounds depressed, that’s because I am.<span> It’s hard not to be.<span> It’s hard to say goodbye to people you care about. But don’t worry too much.<span> Things will pick up.<span> I’ve already met some people who came with the new intake.<span> I have about 4-5 different groups of friends, each centered around different interests.<span> It’s just a rough transition period.<span> In the meantime, I’m getting caught up on Glee, doing some yoga, hopefully studying Korean, and cooking more.<span> Stay tuned for the next post, which should be something like, “Things I learned in the first year.”


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