Monday, June 10, 2013

Life post-Korea

Man, it feels good to be posting again. I should have done this post a month ago at least but I've been putting it off for some reason. It feels like I've opened an old diary filled with all the little memories I may have forgotten or stories that I still think about often. I'm once again so grateful that I kept this record of all Korea had to offer me.

I've been home for about 2.5 months now and it honestly feels like Korea was a life-time away. When I see people who I haven't seen since I've been home and they ask the inevitable "how was it?" question I tend to think - how was what? My lunch? My weekend? Ooooh, you mean Korea. It was great. It is so difficult to explain what that year meant to me and all that was after all completely life changing and often people ask out of obligation and not because they're really interested which makes it hard to get into the real nitty gritty stuff. I have had many an interesting conversation about the North/South drama though, and I've thoroughly enjoyed being able to tell the people that care to listen about this weird little country I spent a year of my life immersed in. But no matter how long the conversation lasts, it's impossible to cover everything. 

It's been harder to readjust than I imagined. Friendships have drifted, people changed, routines were no longer familiar and I've found myself floating through the days, feeling like I have no control over things and hoping that my life will eventually start to be productive once more. I miss Korea. I miss my friends, I miss the food IMMENSELY and I miss the routines I had gotten used to...walking though the streets to visit friends and getting my feet wet when entering the bathroom. Okay no, I do not miss that. I walked into my shower wall the other day while trying to get the shampoo out of my hair (and keep it out my eyes) because I wasn't used to having a shower with limits. I still sometimes have to beat the urge to bow to new, older people I meet and throw in some Korean words here and there that have just become habit. But generally I've managed to put my Korea life behind me and am trying to move forward with my life here. There are definitely times I sit back and wonder whether or not I made the right decision to come home when I did but I think that's normal. I'm really happy that I've managed to keep in touch with my friends I made over there and we try to make regular Skype dates or send voice notes and pictures back and forth which keeps me in the loop. I really hope to meet up with them in the future. What I predicted before I left has turned out to be true...once you live in another country, a part of your heart will always belong there. 

Despite the doubts and difficulties, it really is amazing to be home. The first thing I did when I got home was have a Mugg and Bean breakfast and then a bath. I was in heaven. I've loved being in the culture again, surrounded by diverse smiling faces with the unmistakable South African charm and good spirits. It's been so good to catch up with family and friends again and I'm so grateful for the few who have really embraced me since being home. I've spent a lot of time with Jodie, the friend I went over to Korea with originally and we often find ourselves relying on each other to understand what it is we're going through. I spent an awesome few days at my Uncle's holiday farm, Wyndford, which is very possibly my favourite place in the world. While there I hiked a part of the Drakensburg with my Dad, where we did the chain ladder and it was the most incredible experience with him. See, all the pain and suffering hiking in Korea paid off ;) I’m still waiting to go see some wildlife in Pilansburg which will hopefully happen in the July holidays. Work wise, I have started working at a local high school as a substitute and PT teacher, which is less than satisfying but I’m grateful to be busy. I also have some au-pairing lined up, am tutoring and just trying to keep busy. My plan is to start my Masters in Development Studies next year so am really just working towards that and will see what happens from there. NGO work is definitely where I want to be getting involved.


Right. So that part of my blog was written about 6 weeks ago. My bad. In my defense though, half way through the post we lost our internet connection which forced me to stop and then life got in the way. So it is now 4 months since I came home and things are much better. I've found my feet and my happiness here once more and although not in the ideal work situation, I have some exciting prospects on the horizon and am very positive about my future - beginning with Masters next year (if I get in). I've made a bunch of new friends so my Saturday nights spent alone and wondering what on earth I'm doing back here have thankfully ceased to exist. I've joined a gym, am back in the habit of driving on the crazy Jozi roads and after having my cellphone stolen in the first 2 weeks of being home - I'm back to being a fully functioning South African citizen :)

I manged to cook some Korean food the other night...Jjimdak - my favourite!! And it wasn't half bad (well I don't think it was). I'm very excited to try out the few Korean restaurants that we have and cannot wait to see what the Korean Supermarket has in store for me. I do get very jealous of all the pictures I see of my friends still there and all their adventures but if being away from home has taught me anything, it's taught me to make the most of where you are. My heart has swelled with love for my home town and I'm trying my best to make the most of all we have on offer here. Funny how when you're away, you miss everything but as soon as you're back, you begin to take it all for granted again. 

I feel as though coming home, and these short 4 months since, have taught me almost as much as being away last year did. I've grown so much and am learning new things all the time. I'm forcing myself out of my comfort zones and refuse to say no to any opportunity I feel will be worth it. I've had to cut certain things out of my life that were harmful to me, and have tried to adopt a range of better habits. The pre-Korea Bron wouldn't be so brave. I've found faith again and a church to call home - which in itself has opened my eyes to a million things I've been missing. Life is good here in Africa, it cannot be denied. 

I plan to keep writing, although about what I'm not sure. I'm no longer falling off mountains or eating strange food so what can I entertain you with? We all know my jokes aint that funny. I will be posting on my brother's blog - so you can find me there but I'll also be starting a new blog, 'The Ramblings of a Day Dreamer' as soon as I get someone to help me design it.

Looking back on my year abroad, it seems almost surreal. I read my old posts and sometimes I cringe at the self-centeredness of it all, sometimes I smile at a memory I had forgotten but mostly I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity I had to live in such an amazing country. Life lessons learned, some hard and some harder still since getting home. For all the struggles and frustrations, I wouldn't have changed that year for anything. If anyone is thinking about doing something like this - do it. Make sure you're doing it for the right reasons and be prepared to make the most of anything and everything thrown your way. You'll never regret it.

And so I guess this is it friends. Thank you for taking this journey with me. Thank you for all the support, love and encouragement from all parts of the world. I hope this post hasn't been as disjointed as I feel it has...maybe I've lost my touch! I'm off to look through my scrapbook and the AWESOME quotes book my friends in Korea made for me before I left. Winter has come to South Africa, and so I'll be doing this all in front of a roaring fire. Did I mention it's good to be home?

Peace, love and happiness - Bronners out.