We’re quickly approaching the three-month mark in South Korea, and I find myself feeling more and more like we’ve both been here forever and we also just arrived. We’re caught in this middle ground that’s both amazing and terrible, and we’re making moves getting settled and finding our footing. We’re enjoying great adventures, we’re getting into a routine with school, and we’re getting things done. Life in Korea as a foreigner is different – some might even say foreign – and yet I’m still grateful for this opportunity.
I find myself musing on the little nuances of life that normally wouldn’t mean much while in the US but really mean a lot over here.
Like getting my hair done. That’s a big one. I got my hair done in Washington State in June right before we moved to Korea because I didn’t know how long it would be before I got my hair done again. Last week, I bit the bullet and made an appointment at a Korean salon and, yesterday, I finally got my hair done here for the first time. And you know what? It wasn’t scary. She did an amazing job, refreshed my hair, and now I have a new hometown hairdresser.
Then, there’s the boys’ Korean academy here in Sosabeol. It’s a little nerve-wracking inviting a perfect stranger into our home who barely speaks English and we barely speak any of their mother tongue. And yet, they’re gracious, and kind, and wonderful. The boys are getting used to their new teachers visiting each week, communicating in halted Korean/English, and making progress.
We miss open spaces, and yet there are plenty of open spaces here! They’re just different. Here in Pyeongtaek, they’re farmland, or they’re dedicated parks. It’s just different – like we knew it would be – but we’re also appreciating the beauty of these places and spaces they’ve created for Koreans and foreigners, alike.
Life in Korea as a foreigner is different, and that’s the understatement of the century. I love it, though we’re definitely feeling a bit like we’re in well over our head on any given day. We’re making friends, but we’re missing friends. We’re loving the food, but we miss our comfort staples. We absolutely love the wonderful, welcoming, and kind people here, but we miss the luxury of understanding what people are saying without translator apps.
I think we’ve run the gamut of emotions in the last three months. From completely overwhelmed to completely in awe, we’ve felt it all (and we’re still feeling it all), but if just one person needs to hear this, I can’t say it loud enough; if you ever have the opportunity to move somewhere foreign, completely out of your depth, do it. Jump. Don’t look back. Even in the thick of the hardest days, we’re in awe of how lucky we are to experience life in Korea as a foreigner.