Seoul, South Korea Expat Finality
My last month in South Korea I would go on a trip every weekend to eat lunch and have dessert. I liked combining the two, like when I went to my first vegan festival. I shared this recurring theme with another friend who lived in Korea.
What were my plans for returning to the United States was a recurring question she asked? To be completely honest, I wanted to stay in South Korea and open up my business, however, I hadn’t planned on the learning curve of opening a small business. I thought I knew social media! I had a Twitter and a Facebook account. Only one tiny little detail, I had never created a Facebook Ad, boosted a post or knew the benefits of having a Facebook page vs. a Facebook Group.
In the next coming months, I would learn all of the above. In fact, I’m still learning, using Lynda courses, books, small business organizations, and other travel blogs. I sometimes can’t shut my mind off at night just thinking about my to-do lists.
What could I do at the present moment? What could I do once school was over at the end of May which was only two weeks away? I didn’t want to accept the fact yet that I would have to return. I looked into the possibility of finding a place to stay. I figured I could do it since I had gotten used to living in a small space and I had a place to do laundry.
Except my teacher advised me to search for a place in Hongdae. I didn’t know how to explain to her the trauma that was still only to present in my mind from eight weeks earlier. My dormitory move involved dragging my luggage down the three flights of steps, rolling them ten blocks to the other end of the University and then pushing them up a hill.
I couldn’t, no, I didn’t want to move to another city where I didn’t know where the nearest grocery store was located. In addition, I would have to move without the assistance of a vehicle. The days were counting down and I was still indecisive about taking my next steps.
Final Classroom Dinner
Finals once again came to an end, and my classmates and I decided to go out to eat. We choose a nearby Italian restaurant aptly named “Pasta” close to the school. I went to this restaurant several times before when I had one of my lazy Sunday moments. I had the bad habit of not wanting to go too far from the dormitory.
The Italian restaurant menu was only written in Hangul. Thankfully after one failed attempt at ordering a shrimp pasta dish, I finally found a dish that I really liked.
My teacher asked several times as she ate pickles if I liked the chicken risotto that I had ordered. It was different from my normal pork spaghetti dish that I ordered. I wished I knew this was a dish they offered sooner. I would have ordered this instead. Side note: In Korea with pasta and pizza orders, pickles are served as an accompaniment. At first, I didn’t understand why Koreans ate it that way. Although, after several months I not only got used to it but found that it actually tasted really good.
Eventually, the conversation came up what was I going to do since I would not be attending another semester at Hankuk University. My classmates planned to continue going to school since they needed to pass the Topik level three exam. For most international students that meant attending University for at least a year and a half before they could pass the exam. My friend from Malaysia was attending the University for his job in his home country.
Always looking out for us younger students he asked the teacher if she would take me to see a real estate agent after dinner. She agreed to go with me as each of us calculated our portion of the bill. Our calculations weren’t exact and one of the Chinese students offered to pay more than his share. This was the last time I would see any of them. The pouring rain fit the mood as we all walked away in our different directions.
The teacher walked with me to a nearby reality office. She stood with me in the pouring rain and explained the difference between living upstairs, downstairs and basement level rentals.
It all became even more overwhelming as I realized just how much I didn’t know about looking for an apartment in Korea. I needed more time to make these decisions. I didn’t want to be stuck living somewhere I hated. I thanked her for her help and I made sure I could keep in touch by having her mobile app contact information.
I had made one final ditch effort to see if I could continue to stay another semester at school. Because of the limited amount of dorm room space, it was not a realistic option. I was going back to the United States. I was left with the question: “Is Now The Right Time and If Not Now, When?” The question of when became my focus. When would I return to South Korea?
I had an eleven-hour plane ride back to California ahead of me with nothing, but time to think and plan.
What do you plan for your last day when you visit another city, state or country? A quiet day reflecting or an all-out itinerary? I would love to read your comments down below.