You know how sometimes, things seem to stay the same forever, and then all of a sudden everything turns upside down? I've sort of felt like this over the past week. It's not that any conditions of my life have changed, but rather, my perception of them has changed.
Ever since I arrived in Korea to do this job, I have buckled down to work. I've been working hard to save money go back to school, for my retirement fund, and to hit the travel destinations I have dreamed of since I was old enough to have a concept of geography. But oftentimes, I have just felt like I was working, working, working, and the fulfillment of those goals was just some hazy date in the future. That sentence makes it sound like a complaint, though I don't intend it that way. I like my life here, I like my work, I'm blessed to have good friends. But I am also aware that my current existence here is not indefinite. Someday it will end...it's just that the ending has always seemed a long way off.
Over the past week, though, I've realized that it's not a long way off. In fact, I have just little over a year left. It's true that a year is not an insignificant amount of time, but it doesn't seem like that much when I've already been here three years to begin with. When I come back from summer vacation this fall, everything is going to be so different. Knowing that this is my last year here will make me appreciate all of the things I love about Korea, and will probably also make me more tolerant of the things I don't.
There have been moments too when I have thought, why am I leaving? Why not just stay another year? I can stay as long as I want. After all, Korea has been very good to me. It offered me one job that I wasn't technically qualified for, and when that all went sour, it turned around and offered me another (again, one I wasn't technically qualified for). As a result, I've experienced immense professional growth, have learned what I am capable of, and have become much more confident than ever before.
But I think that if I stayed, I would be at risk of getting into a rut. I still remember my TESOL teacher in Canada, who had lived in Korea for eight years. When I expressed my amazement to him at the length of time he'd lived here, he just shrugged and said, "If you can make it one year in Korea, you can make it eight." Now, at the end of Year Three, I am in complete agreement with him. The first year is the hardest. If you can endure it, you could live here the entire rest of your life, I think. But there comes a point when Korea is very, very comfortable and you have to make a decision. And honestly, I think I'm at a point where I need to be scared again. I need to be the newbie again. I need to do new things.
So in summer 2011 I am going to Europe, and then I am moving to Montreal. :D
Yesterday, just for fun, I sat down and started looking at the places where I want to go. Here was the sample itinerary that I came up with:
Seoul-Munich-Pisa: Spend the night in Pisa. See the Leaning Tower in the morning. Get the train to Cinque Terre and stay there for three or four days. Go back to Pisa.
Pisa-Paris: Catch the train, fly, or somehow get to Paris for the Conversation Corps Orientation. Spend the weekend in Paris and then on Monday go to my host family's home wherever it is in France I've been assigned.
France: Hang out in France for a month. After my stay with my host family ends, spend a week travelling to all of the places I want to see. Then...
France to England: Take the Channel Tunnel across to London, where hopefully I could stay with my friends Beckie and Dave? (I should contact them.) Go up to Devonshire and wherever else strikes my interest. Visit Margaret and Steven wherever they are in England by that point, and maybe my friend Lee as well. Then to:
Scotland. Spend a few days in Edinburgh, and other Scottish places of interest (like Leoch).
This itinerary is only the first draft. At first I thought it was still too early to start planning this venture, but it turns out that it's not, because Edinburgh has so many summer festivals that you often need to book accommodation over a year in advance. So it's time to start doing my research. I also need to consider if I want to take another detour through Southeast Asia on the way to Munich. It may be too expensive, but I am just not done with Southeast Asia yet.
Such good decisions to make. :)