Leaving Korea today (again).
Things I’ll not miss: being told of something that will affect me, and for which I need to prepare, 5 minutes before it happens; being treated like a brainless child; people commenting on my appearance like I’m not there even though I clearly am as it’s me they’re commenting on; people assuming I don’t understand their words, expressions or body language just because I’m not Korean; at work, being either tricked into working a lot of extra hours for no pay, or being given nothing at all to do then looked at as lazy (little piece of mind or respect); rampant selfishness in busy coffee shops (1 person taking 4 seats, 2 taking 6); the way so many Koreans always seem to be in the way - obliviousness in the way they move around in relation to others; the Boy Racers who fill my neighbourhood with motorcycle noise at 3am and 4am; the smell of hot squid snacks in the movie theatre (no escape!); motorbike delivery people riding on the pavements at high speed; worse yet, motorbike riders with no actual job to do also riding on the pavements at high speed; people horking and spitting up lumps of lung butter onto pavements and even on floors indoors (uurggggghhhhhhhh).
Things I’ll miss: my indescribably kind friends; my sweet students; fog pouring between the tall buildings in my neighbourhood day and night; the view from my window up to Mount Jangsan; the 20 minute stroll over the hill to Haeundae Beach, past modern and old-style buildings (especially at night); friendly coffee shop staff; the fastest wifi on the planet, for free; the spaghetti carbonara at Shinsegae Department Store; stationery - stickers, diaries, notebooks, post-its - from Artbox, 1300K and Hot Tracks, the best in the world; my local coffee shop, Tom N Toms - lovely people, comfy seats, good coffee and food, open until 2am; kimchi fried rice, cold noodles with raw fresh veg, and steamed dumplings at my local ‘Kimbap Heaven’ (the Korean equivalent of a ‘greasy spoon’ but so much healthier), all for a song, 24/7; awesomely fast, clean, cheap public transportation; an apartment that comes with the job; 10 convenience stores in a 2-block radius of my home - come to think of it, Busan is by far the most convenient place I’ve ever lived; the beautiful, nearly silent tall hill of a park/allotments right across from my apartment - magpies and pine tree smells, the sound of dripping raindrops, old people exercising, hills and valleys of vegetable patches, all within view of one of the most expensive and modern urban areas in Asia; random strangers saying “Annyeong”; not starting work until 2pm; fast, cheap, excellent postal service; having a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf 3 blocks from home; stunning autumns; banana milk; living in a port city; a frequent though hard to describe sense of magic and timelessness; exciting weather; funny abuses of English on signs and t-shirts; cranes flying past my 13th floor window at 5am; tofu soup; adorable children; cheap, great clothes from Uniqlo; being able to walk alone at night with no fear at all; running into students on weekends and them being shocked, shocked, that I exist outside school, and then all shyly pleased when I see them on Monday and remember having seen them (so cute); that incredible grilled duck in Daegu that time; how alive my creativity always is here; little winding hilly lanes in the older neighbourhoods; underfloor heating as standard; those holy trees on a king’s tomb in Gyeongju; rain on rice fields.
So long, for now, Korea. And thank you.