I’ve been back in England for just over three months now, which means it has been three months since I last drank soju, smelled dried squid in a movie theatre, or was referred to as “Stacey Teach-uhh.”
In many ways, it’s wonderful to be home. In other ways, I feel cheated – there are a few things nobody warned me about before I left the land of the morning calm for the land of home comforts. So that my ignorance can be of benefit to others, here are the things no one tells you about leaving South Korea.
You’ll miss working with children
My own family and future offspring excluded, I firmly believe that the cutest children in the world are from South Korea. Fact. The children at the elementary school where I worked (Asan Buksu Elementary School) were, for the most part, smart, cute, quirky and friendly. Sure, some of them had a tendency to carve pictures of steaming turds into their desks, or gleefully shout “Puck You!” across the playground (F is not in their alphabet). But children as a rule, are awesome, and I miss seeing them every day.
You have more than one family
Yes, it is wonderful to be reunited with your parents and siblings when you get back. Plus, as long as the novelty of being back lasts, you are lavished with hugs and allowed to sink quietly into the sofa undisturbed, except for snack time (don’t forget to milk the jetlag). However, depending on how long you were in ROK, you will miss the friends you leave behind just like they’re family too. Something about being that far away from home makes people bond to eachother. I don’t know if it’s sharing the unique experience, uniting during adversity, or hanging out with other people who realise HOW IMPORTANT COSTCO IS. I still miss my friends in Korea. If any of you are reading this, drop by in England sometime, okay?
Life in Korea is easier than you think
I can’t count the number of times I went home to my apartment in Tangjeong, threw down my bag, stamped my feet, and let out an almighty rant about how crap everything was, and how good everything would be once I wasn’t in Korea anymore. Contract negotiations, bratty students, crazy taxi drivers, racism, sexism, sh*tty Spam-based meals. Yes, it was bad. But thinking that all my problems would disappear after I flew out was wrong. The grass is not always greener. Besides…
There’s a lot to love about Korea
Rent-free living, a fun, well-paid job, vacations around Asia, cheap meals (cheaper everything), fun fashion, Korean barbeque, bars that don’t seem to close, nightclubs, festivals, Seoul, bookshops, thriftstores, mountains, shopping centres, trains and subways that actually work, and of course, drinking outside convenience stores.
Feel free to comment about how right or wrong you think I am, and if there’s anything I missed out.