After living back in the UK for at least three months now, I realise that I do miss aspects of my life from when I was living in my humble two room apartment in Namyangju, South Korea.
I think my feelings are heightened somewhat as well, since we are all going through a global pandemic and lockdown has forced us all to limit our outside time and pushed us inside to sit with our thoughts, feelings and life decisions.
Side Note: I do also have a post detailing some of the Things I Don’t Miss about Living in South Korea, so you can go and check that out if you want the full scope of my feelings right now.
Now without further ado, what are some of the things I miss about living and teaching in South Korea?
The school I taught at, the other teachers and the students
I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss anything about the lovely place I worked at, the fantastic people who I worked alongside or the precocious and curious teens I taught how to converse in natural English.
I really do.
In the beginning I remember all the teachers were incredibly welcoming, checking in on me all the time, inviting me out for chicken and beer (치맥/chimaek as it’s called in Korea), always wanting to practise their English skills by starting random conversations.
And it pretty much stayed that way until I left. Everyone was very kind. Everyone was very generous. Everyone was very smart. You hear some horror stories about living and teaching in South Korea, but for me that was not the experience. Words cannot describe how grateful I am to have been placed at such a wonderful school.
Now my students, my babies. Even though they were pre-teens and teenagers, they’ll always be the children I looked after each day during their schooling. I saw them grow up over the course of two years, develop personalities, develop self-confidence, grow their English language skills and just start to come into themselves as people.
That being said, I did have issues with some students and it wasn’t easy at all times. An entire class almost made me cry when I started working there and of course there were students who misbehaved. So it wasn’t all a walk in the park. But I think that’s what forced me to develop a thicker skin and challenged me to create more stimulating and engaging lessons for the students to get their teeth into.
Towards the end of my time at the school I was able to have full on conversations with some of the students. We would laugh, joke around, talk about whatever random things. Some of them added me on my Kakao messenger app (although I’ve only received one message so far) and many of them now follow me on Instagram.
About six months in, I finally realised what my job was in Korea, and it was to become a trusted and positive role model for those who needed my guidance and influence when they couldn’t find it elsewhere. I wish I could help more, but at some point you’ve got to let them figure it out for themselves and I needed to live my own life.
Living a life that was my own in a foreign country
As a person who likes to be independent, this was my dream. Doing my own thing, learning how to exist and live as a foreigner in another country with a whole new set of rules and laws, exploring new cities, speaking in another language to communicate and get by.
I had a whole life for two years in South Korea. I had responsibilities, a schedule, friends I would hang out with, a job that was meaningful (somewhat), I paid bills, I travelled, I encountered challenges and triumphs. Talk about adulating huh.
And it was all mine. That’s what I really miss now. The independence of it all. It kind of feels like when Uni ended. I had a full life during my time as a student and when it ends, you kind of go into this weird limbo of ‘between jobs’, ‘looking for my next opportunity’, ‘funemployed’ and such.
This state of quarantine we’re all in now doesn’t help matters.
I got back to the UK on the 1st March 2020, was able to be free and explore for a week, visit some places in Manchester city centre, and by the next week the entire country went into lockdown and the rest is history.
I’ve been doing THE MOST to keep myself entertained and keep my brain stimulated but it doesn’t QUITE compare. To be honest, everyone is probably feeling the same way regardless of what their situation was before the Stay Home order.
I think when it is safer to venture to other people’s houses and go into more crowded situations I’ll still miss this aspect of living in Korea. Probably more periodically though and I may be reminded of the past if I find myself in a certain situation that triggers a memory.
It’ll be time to find another life then. Find other responsibilities, other friends to hang out with, other bills to pay, another schedule to live by…
The journey keeps going.
Please click on to Page 2 to read more.