This post has been a long time coming. But first, let me apologize for the serious lack of updates. Life has been...happening. Things have been flying by and some times I just feel like I'm barely holding on while everything zooms around me.
The second year of my contract was rough, to say the least. As my husband and I sat on the other side of the planet, the lives of those close to us just kept going. Babies were born. Loved ones passed away. Hospital visits came and went.
I wasn't there for a lot of major events, and after a while, it wears on you. You see people doing things, and you feel so distant. Like you're...well, like you're on the other side of the world. Time moves on, no matter where on this big marble you are, and never have I felt it more acutely than while we were in Korea.
So after lots of discussion and debate, we decided to end our time in Korea after two years. The money was great. The country was (mostly) great. The folks I worked with were wonderful. But it's so hard having to time when to call my parents because of time zones. It's hard watching my niece tell me she loves me through a phone screen. It's hard being so very far away from those you want to hold closest.
But on top of all of that, was my depression.
I don't talk about it often, but I suffer from pretty bad depression and anxiety disorder. I can still function, but some days it's harder than others. And to be honest, Korea has no concept of that. There is no idea of mental health, and there's no HIPAA. There's no insurance for seeing a therapist, and they frown upon the use of medicine to fix chemical imbalances.
Over time, my mental health was deteriorating. And I knew that being in Korea was part of what was causing it. Some of what I talked about above, and also a little of something that expats understand on a deep level: the sense of being other.
When you live somewhere as a minority, as an expat, you will never fit in. You can speak the language, eat the food, and acclimate to the culture, but in the end, you are other. You're foreign. Strange. Different. An anomaly.
After two years of dealing with the stares and the comments that they thought I couldn't understand, I'd had enough. It was grating to have to wake up every morning in a place where, according to those around me, I didn't belong.
It's something all expats deal with at some point or another. And for some, it's just another thing that fades into the background of a life lived abroad. But for me, it wasn't. It was something that pulled my mood further down. It dragged me to some dark spots and some days I felt like I barely made it out the other side in one piece.
So, in the end, I left. I packed up my little bit of stuff, my cats, and my husband. I booked a flight, took a whirlwind tour of Taiwan and Japan, and now I'm back. Back in the land of big trucks and big people.
For better or worse, this is where I am now.
I learned a lot in Korea. I think I found something I'm truly passionate about (spoiler alert: it's not teaching). I'm going to keep on moving, battling my demons by keeping busy. I'm going to keep traveling, because the huge thing Korea gave me was an urge to see more of the world than this small corner. I want to crisscross this globe while I'm here.
In Korea, I learned how to see things from the other side of the fence. I learned to take things with a grain of salt (or five). I learned to stand up for myself and what I believe in. And while I'm still young and have a lot to learn, I don't plan on standing still for long.
So what does this mean for the blog? Well, it's not going anywhere. It is going to transition, though. I've been working with my photography lately and I'm going to take advantage of my location. I'm going to explore my neck of the woods now. Take pictures, talk to people, find places. Let the travel bug that bit me in Korea lead me around this country for a bit.
So this isn't goodbye. But, for now, it's time for a revamp. See you soon!
Writer, Photographer, Dream-Seeker