When I decided to leave Korea and officially move back to America, I knew it would bring an emotional goodbye. Having lived abroad before, and spent time in airports second guessing my decisions, I knew that I had to travel before I went home. Travel is the only cure for a broken heart.
And so, I spent my last weekend laughing when I was with my friends and tearing up when I was alone, whispering ‘thank you, thank you, thank you,’ for my opportunities and blessings. And then I flew to Cambodia.
Filed under Asia, Cambodia
I recently developed my own travel custom: giving out candy. It is a delightful way to share and to make people smile. Plus, everybody likes candy, old and young alike.
Giving candy to strangers is something that I can get away with in impoverished countries, but it would never fly at home in America. Sometimes I speak before thinking, and I’ll realize how creepy I actually sound when I say, “Hey, hey kid! Do you like candy?” The thing is, in Asia, every child will nod and walk over to me with a hand outstretched.
Filed under Asia, Cambodia
As I near the end of two years living in South Korea, I find myself thinking of home. I think of how great it will be to hug my family, play with my nephews, drink micro beer with my friends, and have vegetarianism become a non-issue again. I also think of how frequently people will ask me, “How was Korea?”
Asking something like that is too big a question. I can easily answer specific questions about how Korean food was, how I liked teaching English, or how much Koreans drink. But if someone asks me how my experience was, I’ll simply say, “good.”
The truth is, after living in a country where the culture is so different from my own, it is hard to summarize my experience into just a word or two.
Living in Korea makes me slightly nervous to reemerge into American society. Koreans don’t have the lawsuit mindset of Americans, and overall they are very easy going, good-natured people. They are not easily offended, but rather always ready for a laugh. This means that no matter how ridiculous foreigners are being, Koreans will smile and let it be.
No one expects to move to another country and start punching people. However, there are three cases in Korea when my fists were my only way of communicating with jerks.
When I was a teenager in high school, I found my peers at a nearby all-boys school to be far more fascinating that my own male classmates. So when my friend Pat asked me to be his date to their winter formal, I jumped at the chance.
Pat and his best friend Dan had gone to the same grade school as my best friend Lauren. So naturally, Dan asked Lauren to be his date. It seemed like the perfect double date, except that I didn’t like Dan.
Going out of town for the weekend was a last minute decision, but besides the fact that there would be a Christmas party on Saturday night, I was anxious to try out skiing for the first time.
I speed packed on Friday night and walked to Dunkin’ Donuts to meet my friends. Pat had rented a van, and he fully supported the other eight of us partying during the four hour drive. Bottles of soju and beer for the party van are encouraged, he texted. Continue reading
In the spring of 2007, I was noticeably a stranger in town. I was volunteering in Uganda for a month, and aside from the two girls I was with, there were no other foreigners in the area. I could take a bumpy bus ride into Kampala where there were other white people, and a mall, and toilets that flushed instead of squatters. But when I was around home, I was as foreign as snow.
Filed under Africa, Uganda