Truth is, I was a mess our last few days in Korea. Between the stress of moving and final farewells to people I hold close to my heart, I was pretty much a sentimental sap that would cry at the smallest thing.
Korea was good for us. It taught us how to live on our own, in an unfamiliar land, full of complete strangers who spoke a foreign language. It taught us to be flexible and when to roll with the punches as well as when to stand up for ourselves. It taught us to appreciate western civilizations that literally have the world at their fingertips. It taught us that traveling is a lot less scary than it needs to be, and I guess that’s why we are continuing on in our adventure across the world.
I’ve learned people that live in different areas of Korea have complete different experiences, but I wouldn’t change our experience for anything. Sure in Seoul (and maybe even in Busan) things are a little bit more chill and ‘western’ civilized (meaning you can pretty much find anything you miss from back home, and locals understand your customs and ways), but in Geoje you’re literally at the very tip Korean existence (the very south east part of the country), and you’re at the mercy of those living in the countryside. I loved (bittersweet love) learning from the challenges, embracing the adventures, and growing as an individual.
I can say hands down that the hardest part about leaving Korea was saying goodbye the relationships I’ve developed in the 2.5 years of living in Geoje. I taught a few students straight through those years, and watched them grow both physically and in knowledge. They were my little buddies, and I genuinely loved them. Leaving was literally just a wave goodbye, telling them they did a great job, a formal bow, and walking out the door.
My students may soon forget me and the hours we spent pouring over English books, playing games, laughing, and acting silly together, but I never forget them. The worst part is knowing I will never see their faces again. I guess that comes with the territory, but there’s nothing worse than a final good-bye .I just hope they are given the opportunity to learn and grow as individuals who want to make a difference in the world, and that they chase after their dreams. That’s what any teacher ultimately hopes for in a student right? I never saw myself as a teacher. Heck, I don’t even have a teaching degree. Although I probably won’t ever teach again, I enjoyed every minute of it.
Although Korea had it’s difficulties, Derik and I gained experience that can’t be bought, taught, or passed by word of mouth. Korea took us outside or comfort zone and showed us that being ‘outside’ is not only ok, but it’s something we love. This is why we continue to travel, and for that? Thank you Korea.