Friday, August 5, 2016

Sweet Sweet Summer: Goodbye Korea (& a nutshell summary of what's next and how I'm feeling)

Someday I might get back to blogging on a regular basis again.

Cause I enjoy writing.

Lately, though, I haven't wanted to fight through the writer's block or process emotions or dig into all the thoughts about all the things. During the school year, I didn't have time, and now that it's summer, I just don't want to. It takes effort. It takes emotional bandwidth.

I'd much rather sit on the roof in the sunshine with a good book and not deal with things. So that is exactly what I did for several weeks. It was glorious.

This summer has been, in a word, perfect.

The school year ended in June, the hardest school year of my teaching career, and I hopped a plane for Texas for 2 weeks. Going home is weird, especially after you've been an expat for a long time. You've changed, and the people you always did everything with have changed, and sometimes you feel like you just don't fit anymore. It takes some adjusting. It's harder than a lot of people think, but it's worth it. Each trip is a little different; for me it usually takes a week to get used to being around people all the time again, especially if there's a huge holiday involved and there are several families under one roof for an extended amount of time, and then things settle down into a sweet routine. This trip had its hard moments, but overall it was good, and I'm glad I got to see everyone before my next adventure starts!

Speaking of next adventure, I'm leaving Korea on Monday.

Gasp! Or you already knew that?

Most people know by now, but in case you missed it, here is the nutshell recap of how it all panned out:
I started to feel like my time was up last fall and I prayed and fasted into the decision. Over the next several months, I argued with God, made pros and cons lists for 3 different life directions, and finally decided to follow a plan to move to the UAE for the next season of my life! I've got a 2 year contract at an international school to teach middle school language arts in Ras Al Khaima, about 45 minutes east of Dubai.

Everyone keeps asking me how I'm feeling, and honestly I'm running out of the emotional bandwidth to answer every single person.

Of course, the true answer is somewhere in the middle.

On any given day I feel every single emotion. It's like going through the stages of grief (except anger, I never felt that one), cause I am grieving leaving Korea. Denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance all made their appearance in one form or another over the past few months.
But there's also this crazy unknown to look forward to! I remember when I first moved to Korea: no idea what anything would be like, where I would live, what teaching would look like overseas, who I would meet, who I would become. So I've got all of those emotions again, with a little more maturity and experience to temper them.
I'm very hopeful, very expectant that it will be great. I've done this moving-off-into-the-unknown thing before and I know it won't be easy or super fun all the time. Culture shock is real. I'm moving to another new culture, another new city where I don't really know anyone, but this time I have friends in the country (about an hour away), I've already visited the UAE (and loved it) so there's a vague idea of what to expect, and I've done a whoooooole lot more research to get ready.

And now it's happening.

It's so bizarre. I fly out on Monday. My suitcases are packed, my boxes have been shipped, I've sold almost all my stuff. I have my arrival visa, and my residency visa will be processed around 8/14, depending on my last documents (which are being processed in Washington D.C. now). I've said lots of goodbyes, had a going away party, and cried a little.

And then earlier this week, haha, I was packing up a few things with a classic country playlist on in the background and then suddenly I found myself sobbing on the floor of my living room while watching this 1993 Garth Brooks music video...

The video tells a story about a teenage boy with Downs Syndrome who goes out for his high school track team, with his supportive mom, his apprehensive dad, and the disapproving coach. OH MY GOSH I was a puddle of unreasonable tears by the end. seems that the leaving emotions compounded on a really sappy narrative, cause the tears were a little excessive. 

And then I watched it 4 more times. And laughed at Garth's shoulder moves and eyebrows -- oh, Garth, this video gives new meaning to "the smolder."  


That's how I'm feeling in a nutshell.

A note here: if you know someone who is leaving soon and you're not super close to the person leaving, please give them grace. Now that I'm one of the ones leaving, I wonder how well I did that? Basically, it's hard to leave after so long, and answering the same emotionally-draining questions person after person after person just wears on you. If you are close to them, let them process organically, and respect their silence if they just don't feel like talking. Some people are internal processors and some are external, but even external processors get tired of it. You can ask how they're doing, and it's good to ask, but maybe frame the question like: "Hey, I know everyone's probably asking you the same things, so you don't have to answer. I want you to know I care about you and I want to know how you're doing, but if you're drained, we can just watch stupid tv shows and not talk." Some of my favourite goodbye moments have been the normal afternoons on a friend's couch watching Galavant, An Idiot Abroad, or a constant stream of youtube videos. Just make sure they're not country music videos from the early 90's

So that's basically it!

I've spent July packing, selling, saying good goodbyes, relaxing, cooking, reading, binge watching Galavant (and if you've not watched it yet go to iTunes now and buy season 1, you can thank me later) and Father Brown. I've taken a couple of daytrips around Korea. I've enjoyed cool mornings on my roof and evenings walk/jog/run/hiking around my neighborhood. I even took my bike down to the river one day and then realized that a bike ride at 12 noon in 95 degree weather with 80% humidity might not have been the best idea, especially when the ride home is 100% uphill. I've been trying to soak up as much goodness from this season as I can, squeezing as much life and love out of my friends as possible. I'm even enjoying the Korean summer rainy season, because I won't see much rain in the next couple of years. I've been very intentional about resting this summer and it has been, as I said earlier, perfect. Absolutely perfect.

And now I leave in 4 days.

So... bring me that horizon. 


  1. Wonderful blog! How I've been blessed by your bouncy self first at the Coffee House and then via your blogs and FB!! I wish I could have seen you when you were here recently but saw that Ashley and Rick got to spend an evening with you - and I relished that two special friends got to spend time together. You are such an amazing gal and you just bless everyone wherever you go! I think back to the time during college when you longed to travel internationally and doors wouldn't open - and now the globe is your home! Awesome! God bless you!!! And please be careful!

  2. Oh, the many leaving emotions, perfectly summed up. Intentionality is key -- I couldn't bring myself to do anything with any sense of finality, but I'm SO pleased that that's what you've been doing. May the final four days be filled with love and much grace and patience (on your part and others').

    Praying the transition into the next phase of your grand expat adventure is beautiful and growing. Ek's lief vir jou, 재라tjie.