Asia | Korea, Republic of – Drawing to a close…
And so here we are. This is I suspect the penultimate entry to this diary. As I write it’s Tuesday evening, and a mere four days remain until I leave Korea. This iminent and very tangible departure has, as you might expect led to no small amount of reflection and contemplation on the year past, and the future to come. I’ll admit, I’m happy to be going home. It’ll be great to see friends and family again over Christmas, and all the usual drags about heading homewards after being away, are happily absent. I don’t have to get a job, I don’t have to enter into the drudgery of saving for months before I can get out again, and in any case, I’m only going to be in England for three weeks, before the shifting sands of Egypt become my horizon. All this potential fun and adventure has caused me to suffer, for the last couple of months, very, very itchy feet. I’ve been restless to the point of distraction. Now that I have only three working days left, before I take five months off to travel, I’m really quite excited, (to understate things obscenely).
Although I’m suffering no great upset at the thought of leaving this country, I wouldn’t like anyone to think that I haven’t enjoyed the time I’ve spent here. I have…very much. This diary is testament enough to that. It’s simply that I’ve experienced it now. A year is enough for me, and I’m ready to move on to other far flung corners. For all my readiness to depart, I suspect that I will experience some form of dislocation upon arriving back in England. Korea has been my reality for a year now. The people I know and see everyday, my work colleagues, my place, the route home, the local shops and bars. It’s all become so ‘normal’ and habitual, that when I wake up in a bed in England on Monday morning, and it’s all suddenly very different, it’s going to seem somewhat strange. The likelihood is that I’ll never see again any of the people with whom I’ve shared the last twelve months on a daily basis, once I depart on Friday, and that in itself is an odd sensation. Many of the kids, having found out that ‘Andy teacher’ is to be no more after the weekend, have been insisting that I don’t leave, and sulking when I tell them that I have to. It was only when I told them that my Mum would cry if I didn’t go home, that they begrudgingly accepted it.
The other teachers have nothing to fear however, as my replacement is already arranged. A long and protracted amount of intercontinental negotiation, has facilitated a good friend of mine from home taking over my job. He arrives on Friday afternoon, just in time to be totally jetlagged throughout the party being held to celebrate my departure, his arrival, and the birthday of one of the Korean teachers. It should be a good night. Everyone has been instructed to bring a humerous mystery item (!). I dread to think.
And so with all this going on, I’ve spent time recently tying up loose ends, saying goodbyes (most recently to Seoul itself, a city I’ve become very fond of), buying presents, and preparing for the end of my Korean experience. Similarly, as I mentioned, is soon to come the end of this diary. I’ll write a final entry once I get home, just to close the circle. However this is it from Korea. The next time you hear from me I’ll be 9000km to the west, in a spare room in my sister’s house in Manchester. Bizarre….