The end is near.
After three beautiful years in Seoul, the time to enthusiastically embrace the beginning of a new chapter has arrived. It is with both a heavy heart and a stomach full of butterflies that I will leave Seoul at the beginning of March.
Leaving Korea feels equal parts horrifying / traumatic and liberating / exciting.
I am in love with my everyday life in Korea.
Seoul is an amazing city. The public transportation is second to none. It’s incredibly easy, convenient, inexpensive and safe. The cost of living can’t be beat. I live in a super cool, central neighborhood where everything my little heart could possibly want is a 10-minute walk from my apartment. How much do I pay for this two-story home with a private roof? My roommate and I pay a total of $700. We pay close to nothing to live in a central neighborhood with access to not one, but two subway stops, a zillion bus stops, virtually unlimited food and drink options and great views of Namsan mountain and tower. It just can’t be beat. I commute about thirty minutes on the bus to a job I can’t get enough of. I get to spend all day with co-workers I enjoy and children who make me smile and laugh every single minute I have the opportunity to be in their enlightening presence.
Unbeatable bike paths are a 10-minute ride from my front door (Han River, whoop whoop!).
…And don’t even get me started on the mountains.
The icing on the cake? No guns. No guns, no drugs and very little violent crime.
This is key.
Not having a threatening presence of any kind in your daily life makes a huge difference in your peace of mind and leaves that brain power free to focus on other things. I think unless you’ve experienced living in a far-eastern country, it may be difficult to wrap your head around how this changes your daily experience.
But, Claire, the place you’re describing sounds idyllic, almost utopian.
Why in the world would you want to leave?
A friend of mine said it best: staying here feels like I’m not investing in myself.
I am unwilling to invest in my long-term life on the opposite side of the globe from where my culture and my family reside. I am not invested in Korean culture and I exist in a utopian, fringe, sub-culture of expats. Sure, I’m privy to my choice of craft brews and worldly cuisine, which is nice to satiate my taste buds… but after I’ve packed on a few pounds, what’s next?
Has the ride been great? Oh, man! It’s been life-changing. Every day has provided me with ample opportunities to satisfy my cultural curiosity and classroom ambitions.
After over three years, it will never become easier to move back home. It will only become more challenging. I’m thankful for the experience I’ve had, the woman I’ve become and the passions I’ve discovered, but I’m reading to bid adieu to this strange land of kimchi and spam.
But, Claire, where will you go?
Ah, yes, that is the question, isn’t it?
I’m making moves and figuring it out. A vague answer, absolutely. The true answer will reveal itself in time (circa January).
Expect some Korea guides of sorts to be popping up over the course of my next, and final, 100 days.
Seoul, you’ve been a dream,