I wasn’t sure how to address the Finding Home series. Do I give each one an individual title, do I simply number them… If you’re reading this, you’ll have seen what I went with.
I decided this was better as a series because there is so much to cover and I don’t want to overload my readers. As a rule, I’m going to start general and narrow down the focus as I go.
I left Korea early August 2018. I stood in the immigration line at Incheon airport dreading handing over my ARC card knowing that, this time, I wasn’t going to get it back. With So-Hyang’s 홀로 아리랑 (Arirang Alone) ringing in my ears as I walked away from my ARC and my four years in Korea, I stepped through the doors at immigration and promptly burst into tears. And that was even with my plans to return, at this point very much the master plan.
Within a fortnight of returning to the UK, I had u-turned. I cannot tell you how nice it was to spend time with friends and family and know that I wasn’t due to jump back on a plane. Time with them had become infinite. It seems I’m in the minority in the sheer quantity of contact I had with my family whilst abroad. Sunday was Skype-day, and though this meant I never felt very far away, nothing beats the comfort of being in the same timezone.
So, I came home, started the process of getting my teeth straightened (again – wear your retainers, kids) and met a boy. Well, re-met. Does it count when you first met nine years prior? All in, my first first three months were a heady affair, and whilst I missed (and still miss) Korea on a daily basis, I wasn’t pining for it as I had anticipated I would.
To add a cherry to the top of these golden days, I was in London. Somewhere I swore I would never move, but a place I have ended up loving in a very short space of time.
Thinking back now, the first three months have been the best so far. And those three months of delight and excitement came to a crashing halt in November: I found myself a fully signed up member of the rat race, I was battling with the logistics of accommodation conundrums, and my last Grandparent left us. Real life was setting in. In the beginning, all the differences were exciting, because I had been away so long, but post six months I began comparing against the bubble of the life I’d been living for the last six years.
A couple of examples:
|People queue, the Jubilee line is particularly fabulous for this||There’s at least one line disrupted a day|
|The platform announcers are pretty fantastic – looking at you Shepherd’s Bush||Delay information is pretty pants|
|No air-con on the older lines – to be fair, the tube is pretty old!|
|The choice… so much choice||I’ll be honest, there’s too much choice|
|It’s so easy to get hold of obscure ingredients and dietary alternatives||It’s so expensive, though this is true of both Korea and the UK|
|Tons of healthy options||Eating out is excruciating. Really excruciating|
|I can get any fruit, any time||I’m not going to lie, I miss the seasonality of some Korean supermarkets. Strawberries aren’t exciting any more|
I’ve touched on a couple of aspects and their pros and cons here, and I intend on going into them in further detail in later Finding Home posts, especially as the dissatisfaction reached its peak around January this year. For now, I’ll leave you with this: Am I glad I moved home? Fiercely so! Am I ever going to get Korea out of my system? At this stage, I highly doubt it.
Next Time on Finding Home: Work/Life Balance
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