Over the past couple of weeks I have been busy going through old photographs from travels long since finished and uploading the to my flickrpage.
By Ray Hyland
The first adults you meet in life will forever leave an impression. Family notwithstanding you rely on your teachers and headmasters to guide you along the early roads.
Sometimes, I feel like a teenager. I feel like I’m 21, leaving the U.S.A. for the first time on a seven-day trip to the Czech Republic. Sometimes, I’m going to South Korea for the first time.
It was almost eight years ago that last one happened. And, while sometimes it seems like no time has passed, the gray hairs becoming even more apparent in my beard and on my arms tell me otherwise.
We did hug goodbye.
I'm sitting here with three bags packed to the brim and can't believe it's my last night in Korea. Five years ago I came here with wide eyes and an open heart. I experienced so much, went through so many tribulations and made amazing memories. Now it's ending minute by minute and the hardest part is knowing I will be far away from it all.
Today I went to my school to pay my housing bills and as I waited for my supervisor in the office the Vice President started to talk to me. No worries, she is a sweet older woman who has complimented me in the past. She wanted to know when I was leaving, and when I told her, "tomorrow" she was astonished. She even asked if that was next week's tomorrow. She knew I had been in Korea five years and asked me if I had a boyfriend or was married. All questions that receive a "no" answer. But I reassured her I was fine and was heading back home to be a student to learn more about teaching.
By this time tomorrow it will be less than 30 hours in Korea, and then it's bye bye. I think I have said all there is to say about how I feel. I'm just kind of ready now to hop on the plane, get Tom through to the other side and start things. I was happy to see Tom lick his water bottle feeder that is attached to his carrier. This gave me hope that he will hydrate himself during the flight, but then got me a little concerned he may need the bathroom. Ah well!
I also successfully registered for my first two classes as a graduate student! This gave me a lot of excitement for what's to come. They are, "Linguistics for Language Teachers I" and "Adult Learners". Two classes that I think will be a good start, and they meet on Tues and Weds. Student life, here I come!
It's all pretty much ready folks. I've made a pile of things next to my suitcase that I hope to stuff inside it. I've gone through the kitchen and cleared out stuff and put some things into a box.
When I moved in to this place (two years ago) it wasn't as clean as I'm making it now. But I know who is going to move in and I don't really want to leave someone with a dirty place. It sucks to move in somewhere and then have to clean it to make it comfortable. I suppose I am putting money into my good karma bank!
Today was all about work, work, work. I got up and immediately went ahead with cleaning behind all the furniture. I found a lot of dust and cat hair all mangled together. Things in here sure do look a lot cleaner now. After I whisked through the living space I tackled the kitchen. Everything needed a good scrubbing including the refrigerator.
I am not scared to be saying good bye to all this but I now really I understand it's something I'm going to have to do. Korea has been my home for the past five years and I made it so. I adjusted to all the differences and nuances. I can read Korean fluently and work my way around a crowded busy street like slick butter. It's time to wrap all this up and put in my memories.
It's starting to hit me that I have just about a week left in Korea. All the memories and people I have met are going to be in a far away place when I go back home. When I ride the subway I can't help but think that this would be my last time on the bustling train. As I walk past the usual shops in my neighborhood and hear the fruit stand lady shout, "Oranges, 3,000 won!" (In Korean) I know that I won't hear that again.
Those are a pair of shoes that I have worn every since I came to Korea. They have been my work shoes, because you change your shoes when you go to work here. I always said to myself I would get a different pair but I never bothered. They have seen me through 1 hagwon, 2 public schools and this last one. These shoes have taken me through a lot of drama and hard times, but also through fun experiences as well. I'm not going to take them back with me, so I suppose they can live here in Korea.
While he was training me to be an Insurance Agent he would now and then pass on knowledge. This one time he told me that when you do a job you should do it right. You should do such hard work that when it comes time for you to leave (for whatever reason) the company should be sorry to see you go. At that time I was fresh out of college and with a small work history behind me. I tried my best at that job, but know I could have left it better.
Before I ever left for Korea I was working at an Insurance Company in San Francisco. My boss was this kooky old Japanese man who lived by a lot of morals and codes. Have you ever watched Mad Men? The office was kind of like that, and even had old type writers.
It's the center of Seoul, and the place where you will likely make your first memories in Korea. When I first came here it was indeed one of the very first tourist areas I walked into. I am talking about Insadong, the tourist trap of Seoul. Despite this nickname, Insadong delivers souvenirs, art and traditional food. It was once an area known for it's art galleries and secret alley ways. Nowadays it has let make-up shops and typical cafes move in.