one year down…

This week marks one year ago that I arrived and began teaching in Korea. And my, oh my, what a year it has been. I have loved nearly every minute of it, and as you have probably read, I am dedicated to sticking it out here and staying indefinitely.

I’ve learned so much about myself this year; it has really challenged me. There have been several instances where I am harshly reminded that I am an outsider here. That I should be working harder to learn Korean. That I can’t just do everything on my own… I have to ask for help – which I absolutely loathe doing.

I’ve met some pretty awesome people in my one year. Most of them I haven’t spent a great deal of time with, but a few have made a small impact. One of these fine people is my friend KD (I talked about her in one of my earlier posts) from South Africa. On Tuesday morning, KD texted me and asked if I would be free to meet for coffee in a few hours despite the last minute invitation. I said yes, and for the last time, we met for lunch and a good chat. KD is one of those people who has left a mark on my heart. She always forced me out of my Starbucks-comfort zone and knew my town better than I did. She never seemed to be worried about anything. She is truly a free spirit and will totally admit to being a modern-day hippie. She is awesome and I love her to death.

KD wrote me a sweet little note and handed it to me before we parted ways. This simple gesture was so special to me. She said, “It’s nothing super important, but there’s a tradition in my family that when someone is leaving, they give everyone a short, handwritten note.” I was so touched that she thought of me. We certainly hadn’t spent a ton of time together over our shared year here, but we shared a love for good coffee and conversation. One thing that she wrote in her note to me was so significant:

“We are so very different – but when it comes to what’s important (coffee and wine), I didn’t meet anyone else here who ‘gets it’ like we do.”

“We are so very different…” Indeed, we are. KD is a fun-loving,  sometimes wild, and carefree young woman that I occasionally wish I was more like. I am an “old soul” that thinks more obsessively and I often have a totally different idea of fun. But KD unknowingly taught me two things that I’ll never forget: to take advantage of every moment and experience; and to march to the beat of my own drum when circumstances call for it.

She left on Wednesday to backpack around Asia for six weeks or so before returning home to South Africa, and I’m so jealous! I hope to do the same someday and take advantage of my youth and independence.

So, sweet friend, march on with your own drum. Continue to seize every opportunity. And most importantly, thanks for considering me a friend.

Journey on!

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