I promised myself I would keep myself up to date with my blogs so that I would have no difficulty when it came to thinking of what to say and write and expose, but that blankness now seems that it couldn’t have been avoided as I sit at my desk wondering how the hell I’m supposed to sum up my year long experience in Seoul. It also makes me feel slightly anxious as even though my plane is in 4 days, I haven’t accepted that reality yet, but writing this is starting to make it feel a little more real.
Me and my friends went through stages together: the first was desperately not wanting to leave. A few months ago when we were booking our flights back, I remember crying thinking about leaving this amazing city that I’ve grown into and developed character in, because it was just as simple as a didn’t want to leave. Then I really wanted to leave! Not because of Seoul per say, but rather because I was missing friends and family more so than ever. Last month, there was an acceptance of my departure; I didn’t want to leave so badly, but I knew that I had to. Now, my feelings are less ambiguous. I’m not as confused about whether I want to stay more than leave, or vice versa; instead I think I’m ready to leave. I realised part of the fear of going back home was because it would mean leaving behind the person I have become over the past 8 months, which is someone who can enjoy being more active and socially comfortable (not that it was ever a major problem before but there has been definite growth in confidence), but now I think I’m ready to take this new version of myself back home.
While being in Korea I’ve had infinite opportunities to experience different cuisines, attend unique events, make friends I never would have found; I ate live octopus, enjoyed traditional drinks with Korean students, went to concerts, visited beautiful galleries and museums, palaces, temples, incredible landmarks, finally met friends I’ve had for years in real life, made films including a festival award winning documentary, worked with developing actual film stock, had fun at a Korean radio show, expanded my knowledge in a completely foreign language, talked to hundreds of taxi drivers about being a foreigner in Korea, visited a number of cooky and strangely themed cafes, lived with people from the university of Southampton who I’d never even spoken with before, formed amazing and lifelong relationships with them, played video games in a korean pc room for hours on end, sang in karaoke on my own at 5am, cried, laughed, lived a wholly different lifestyle from the one I’ve been accustomed to for 21 years, had a birthday abroad, shown this wonderful city to family and friends visiting me from home, travelled parts of Asia (still no Japan but it will happen one day), drank a lot, danced a lot, studied a lot, played with fashion, tried many different and delicious flavours of ramen, tried many different and not-so delicious snacks, spent a lot of money, got a tattoo, spent more money, bought a new laptop, spent even more money, crashed my friends dormitory, attended even more concerts and festivals, spent hours and hours on end in airports… It’s been quite wild and a lot of fun.
There’s so many things I’m going to painfully miss and I think I have a slight fear of people at home not wanting to hear about it, but I’ll face that bridge when I get to it because I don’t feel like I’ll ever be able to shut up about this year. It’s a cliche but this really has been one of the best years of my life, if not the best and although there have been many difficulties, I feel as though the good has always been good enough to outweigh any bad.
Living here has changed me in so many ways and whilst I’m ready to go home, I won’t let the experience end once I get on the plane- what’s the point in that?