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한국에 온지 6년 된 나

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December 17, 2015 | 08:03pm
Mood: 피곤하다

Today is my 6 year anniversary of coming to Korea. I arrived in Korea on December 17, 2009.

Yesterday, Simon and Martina of Eat Your Kimchi announced that they were moving to Japan. (Anyone who has no interest/knowledge of Korea won't know who they are, but whatevs.)

I find the timing of these two events to be pretty interesting, I guess? Ironic? I've been watching Simon and Martina since my senior year of university, and their videos contributed to my decision to come to Korea. You know you've been in Korea for a long time when you've not only outlasted all of your contemporaries, but also the famous people who influenced your decision to come.

There are a couple things about their decision to leave that I really relate to. First of all, they said that they had only planned on staying in Korea for a year or two before moving on to another country, then another country, etc, but they grew comfortable in Korea and just... never left. This is also me. I'd originally planned to stay in Korea for two years before moving on to Europe, and then South America, etc.

Another aspect of their leaving is something I read on Reddit, I believe; the reason it's hitting a lot of people strongly is because they are kind of personifying the "do I leave or do I stay?" decision that all expats must make. I sometimes think that the big turning point in my life was the decision to not leave after two years, but to just move to a new job. Honestly, if I were to do things again, I would have left Korea - or at the very least, left Gwangju - in 2011. Can't change the past though.

I am also kind of feeling like I want a change these days. I don't know if I have it in me to keep studying for another 2.5 years in Korea, followed up with however many years a PhD would take (97?). One of the reasons I am actually trying to do the 사회통합프로그램 is because it'll give me the opportunity to change my visa, so I will be able to apply for virtually any job in Korea. Honestly, if a good opportunity comes up, I would be dead willing to drop my studies and start working again.

That being said, today I presented a 14 page paper (in Korean) to my class. My Korean was, uh, not the best, but the professor actually said that the flow, the way it was written, and the analysis were by far the best in the class, and he told the other students to study like me. If only he knew that I'd written a little more than half of that paper in the last few days! You know, I really enjoy analyzing, researching, writing up my thoughts and putting ideas together. It's a lot of fun and I'm pretty decent at it. I just... I don't like the Korean aspect of this experience. It took me roughly 12+ hours to translate that paper into Korean, and even having translated it I really wasn't able to express myself well in Korean. I find this so frustrating.

Something else that Simon and Martina expressed with which I strongly identify is the desire to have adventures. I've started over again and again - when I went to university in Missouri, when I studied Russian in Indiana, when I came to Korea, when I moved and started a new job in Gwangju, when I started my program in Jeonju, and most recently when I came to Seoul. Starting over is exhausting and frustrating but it's so damn exhilarating. It's an adventure every time. Moving to a new country is even more of an adventure - every day you learn something new, you do something new. When I first came to Korea I promised myself that I would try absolutely every new experience that came up, and I did, for a while, until Korea became old hat.

Speaking of adventures... I have a lot of adventures in mind for the future. I want to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain, hike the entirety of the Appalachian Trail, go to Antarctica, do a proper backpacking trip where I'm on the road for 6 months straight. I also have this strange desire to walk (bike?) across the world. I know, that's weird, right? It just seems... like fun.

The thing is, I'm starting to feel my age. I'm 28, which isn't exactly old, but I am feeling more and more crotchety and closer to the point where I want to settle down every day. I think about starting over again and I just feel tired. I think about experiencing a new culture, learning a new language... I both want to do it and think it's the last possible thing I'd like to do. I feel like I'm getting to the point where I need to do those adventures sooner rather than later, because if I don't do them soon, I'll never do them.

Happy 6 years to me. I don't know where, or what, I'll be doing a year from now - possibly attempting to finish up my term papers, same as today. Or maybe I'll have a job, or be hiking a mountain somewhere. I'm not sure how many more years I have in me to live in Korea, but I don't regret my time here in the slightest.

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Comments {2}


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from: annaserene
date: December 21, 2015 12:18pm (UTC)

it must feel weird to still be here when so many others have made the decision to leave.
may I ask why you wish you had left in the past?

14 pages in Korean is impressive! Even if you procrastinated, it certainly sounds like you're good at what you do. and taking 12 hours to translate is admirable.

I have a retired uncle who rode his bicycle from one coast of the U.S. to the other, and still travels around the country with it.

happy 6 years :)

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from: aodh
date: December 22, 2015 10:37am (UTC)

Thank you!

My aunt also rode her bicycle from one coast to the other back in the 80s, I believe. Total badass. :)

It's not so much that I wish I had left, I just wish I had thought over my decision to stay in more depth. My decision to stay in Gwangju was because I had friends and a boyfriend at the time- and almost immediately after I started my third year I broke up with him, and then two of my closest friends left Korea. I was left in a funk for the rest of the year and very, very gradually pulled myself out of it. I also kind of think... I like Korea, but I'm not really passionate about it. I consider Korea to be home, in a way. I kind of wish I'd given myself the opportunity to find a place I was genuinely passionate about. But you know, no need to dwell on it :)

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