Well, this is it. My final day in Korea. And my final blogpost. I’m not even sure what to write. I feel like I should have something profound and inspiring to say but I still haven’t sorted out how I feel about leaving. Right now I feel ready to go home, get back to my life, and finally stop being a traveler and a foreigner. I’m looking forward to seeing my friends and my family and telling everyone my stories, especially the ones too crazy to publish in this blog (yes, there are a few!) At the moment, I am happy to be going home.
On the other hand I know I am going to miss Korea like crazy when I do. I’m going to miss the friends I made here (especially the ones I made in Busan) and the people (yes, even the ajummas) and the food (especially the food!) and the culture (though not the old guys who spit on the street or the squatter toilets), and Busan (especially the beaches) and Seoul (though slightly less than Busan, sorry!) and real kimchi. I’m even going to miss the crowded traditional markets that smell like fish and the pushy ajummas on the subway. I might even miss being looked at by people on the street and the open-mouthed stares of small children. Who knows.
I’m definitely going to miss Busan a lot. Not only because my friends are here, but also because of the atmosphere. I liked Seoul, but Busan is so much more laid-back and colorful. Hence my photo collection of whimsical street art:
And don’t forget the mountains!
And of course, the Konglish.
I don’t really know how to do a final farewell so I think I might just wrap up with a few highlights from the last six months (wow, has it really been six whole months?!?)
I’ve eaten more new foods in the last few months than I can remember. 99% of it was delicious. The remaining 1% was strange invertebrates whose gummy texture completely overwhelmed any taste benefits they might have had. Most of the food I’ve had here burned away some part of my stomach lining (thank you Korean chili powder!) but it was totally worth it.
I’ve been renamed by the natives. You may now call me Dah-na. Though people in Busan tend to call me “Dina”, or they completely mishear and they call me “Jana” so honestly at this point I’ve almost forgotten my own name so you can call me whatever you want and I’ll probably answer.
I’ve experienced the best Korea has to offer: I’ve biked and picnicked along the Han River in Seoul…
…climbed Bukhansan Mountain (barely!)…
…strolled through both Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung palaces (as well as several temples)…
…celebrated Buddha’s Birthday with a traditional lantern parade…
…seen the view from Namsan Tower, vacationed in Jeju Island…
…toured the DMZ…
… and most importantly, eaten a lot of patbingsu!
I’ve also experienced the daily life of Korea as well, like the traditional markets…
…springtime in Seoul…
…college neighborhood nightlife…
…and sharing the street, subway, and bus with thousands of other people.
I’ve learned basic Taekwondo. (And also forgotten much of it over summer break. Oops!)
I spent a weekend in Japan while only using a grand total of 4 Japanese words.
I’ve also been up to see the sunrise at Gwangalli Beach in Busan. This was one of my favorite moments in my entire time here.
And of course, many other things that you’ve already read about. Or maybe you just skimmed it and looked at the pictures. Whatever, I’m not judging. But I do want to say thank you to all my readers. I appreciate you coming along with me on my travels… and for putting up up with a lot of weird humor, geeky pop culture references, and really bad Konglish puns. It’s been a good journey.
I would also like to thank my amazing host family for hosting me this last semester. They were always so kind and wonderful to me. And they put with with my awkward Korean for 4 whole months which is worth like a thousand million brownie points.
And finally, thank you to my friends in Busan who helped me celebrate my last week in Korea. I’ll miss you all, you crazy people.
I’ve heard that after a long time abroad, the returning culture shock can be just as bad as the original one. I know it will take me time to adjust to American life again, but I think I can get through it alright. If I end up a kimchi addict living in my parents’ basement I’ll let you know but I think as long as I cope better than this I’ll be okay:
(Silly Jack. You spent the first 4 seasons trying to get OFF that island!)
I do want to return to Korea someday. I don’t know when I will be able to come back, but who knows, right? So I’m not saying “goodbye”, just “so long for now.”
We’ll meet again, Korea. I know it.