Monday, February 28, 2011

Parting Ways

There is something incredibly bittersweet about wrapping up my time in Korea. On one hand there is the amazing feeling of being free, no job and no commitments. On the other hand I find myself jobless and somewhat aimless! It's the ultimate double edged sword! But what overshadows most of the feelings that come with change is the overwhelming need to hold onto the people that helped make Korea so much more than it could ever be on its own. I'd compare the friendships I made in Korea to the ones I made in university. A common experience can really bring people together in a powerful way. Actually I'd say friendships here develop a bit like a Korean cab ride, fast and furiously!

You find yourself feeling so much like a fish out of water that every other foreigner you meet has the potential to get you swimming again. It's like dating, you shyly approach a potential new friend and make plans to meet for coffee then dinner and 3 "dates" later you're telling your parents and friends back home about this awesome person that sees the world just like you! From that point on the friendship is going full steam ahead and you think there isn't anything in the world that could possibly break things up. Then March rolls around and with it comes the end of contracts. This is the first time in 3 years that I'm not the one being left behind but that hasn't made the reality of it any easier.
When I left home I never for a second thought, I wonder if I'll ever see these people again. It was a matter of when will I see these people again. Now as I bid adieu to the amazing people I've been fortunate to call friends here I can't help but wonder if I will ever see them again. These friends that helped me grow and enriched my life in ways they'll never know because no words seem to be good enough to explain how much I cherish them. They have been my adopted family, my travel companions, a shoulder to cry on, my therapist, my coffee buddies, my YAY KOREA *pumps fist in the air* sounding board and my UGH KOREA *shakes fist* sounding board, my backup singers and lead singers. They have seen me at my worst and at my best and probably know me better than some people who have known me for 3 times longer back home. They have been the support system I never dreamed I'd have in this strange land. 

While we all seem to share a desire to explore every nook and cranny of this world I can't help but fear that our journeys will in fact take us farther apart as the years pass. But then I can't deny the fact that this common experience of life in topsy turvy Korea will keep us bound forever and I have no doubt that our paths will cross again either in some far off mysterious corner of the world or my own backyard! After all we all found each other once how hard could it possibly be to do it again! 

As for now I suppress the natural urge to say goodbye and opt instead to hug them and wish them luck on their own journeys before promising to see each other soon. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Now What...

During my last few weeks in Korea I’ve had ample time to reflect on my 3 years here. While the last year wasn’t quite as positive as I’d hoped it would be I can’t help but look back on my Korean experience and smile.

I learned more about myself having been here than if I’d stayed in Canada. I conquered my fears of the unknown and had a blast doing it. Living in a country where you don’t speak the same language as the locals or share the same culture can seem incredibly daunting but you know what, it’s totally doable and fantastically rewarding.

I owe a great deal to Korea. In a way Korea saved me from myself. Like many others I graduated from university and timidly looked out at my future, which resembled a foggy bleak forest path from the movie Sleepy Hollow. Long gone are the days when a university diploma led right to a well paying job, a home, a car and a family. These are the days of question marks, debt and part time jobs.  In university you still believe that everything will just come to you as if a diploma is a magnet and jobs are iron filings. However that’s not really the case for the majority of graduates.

Post-university and Korea Megan is still scared, possibly more so... I suppose I'm still working on conquering my fears of the unknown! I wish I’d listened more to my parents about money, but I was too naïve and having too much fun. I wish I could make up my mind and just pick something and do it because it’s too late in life for all the flip-flopping. And I wish I’d stuck with French… you don’t realize how important that language is until you’ve passed the age when learning a new language is relatively easy!

Coming to Korea in the first place was terrifying but leaving Korea… leaving a steady full-time job… a free apartment… medical insurance and easy access to travel is the scariest thing yet. I find myself envying those with good jobs back home even if they haven’t walked on the Great Wall of China, spent quality time with a koala cradled in their arms, looked up at the magnificent Petronas Towers, crossed Shibuya crossing with hundreds of Japanese people, gazed out on the skyline of Hong Kong, swam with the fish through the reefs of Palawan, and walked the same paths as Korean kings.  Funny isn’t it… I bet there are those with steady jobs back home that would envy me. Worry makes one discontent with what they have and what they’ve done. I need to master my worry and instead look back and think, geez Megan you’ve been pretty damn lucky! I guess I’ll spend the next few months wandering with my backpack, camera and worry and hopefully I’ll lose the heaviest of the 3 by the time I arrive home!