Author’s Note: I wrote this in November when I was really struggling with acclimating to Vietnam. It’s my ode to Korea.
Is it possible to be homesick for a place that’s not home? That is how I feel about Korea. I miss so many things about it. We lived there for almost six months, so the culture really rubbed off on me! For example, in Korea, when greeting, saying “goodbye” or “thank you” or really anything, you do a little bow. Not like a full on forehead to the floor bow, but just a little bend at the waist and lowering of the head bow. Last time we returned to the United States, it took me awhile to stop bowing to people. Lucky for me, in Vietnam, everyone nods to each other in greeting. So, I’m slowly weaning myself from bows to nods, to hopefully nothing by the time we make it back to the United States.
I miss Koreans. I miss their cleanliness. Samgilpo was basically a dirt parking lot, but somehow the dirt seemed much cleaner there. I think it might have something to do with a better waste management system, but it just FELT less dirty. What’s really funny as that in our hotel complex here in Vietnam, there are workers that only sweep up the dust… all day long… and it still feels dirtier than Samgilpo. I miss our pension mother and grandmother. Those ladies were so wonderful, thoughtful and funny. When we left Samgilpo for the last time, pension mother cried. I felt like crying too! She spoiled us rotten and just kept right on giving right to the end. Her parting gift, and Owen’s birthday present were matching Nike athletic shoes for Landon and Owen. They even matched Austin’s running shoes, so they are all matchy matchy. These Nikes were way more expensive than I would ever pay for kid’s shoes, but she spoils us! I miss our crew family. We had a wonderful crew of Austin’s co-workers and their significant others in Samgilpo. We had BBQs every other week on our party deck and ate ridiculous amounts of marinated short ribs, pork belly with sesame oil and salt, and steak. Since we all lived in the same pension, it was almost like being in a house with all your friends. I doubt we will have another assignment quite like Korea ever again.
I miss the cutesy kid’s clothes and toys and TV shows. Everything for kids in Korea is so cutesy. The shows all teach moral lessons and have vehicles as the main characters, which really draws Landon in. He will forever love Robocar Poli- he earned Heli and Roy and asked for Poli and Amber for his birthday. They are transforming emergency vehicles! Thank goodness for Youtube so he can watch the show in English. Kid’s clothes are SO CUTE I had to limit my shopping because we didn’t have room in our luggage. I miss the cool museums and how Koreans have taken great care to preserve their history and display it in such engaging and innovative ways. I will miss the heated floors that felt so good when it got chilly this fall.
Korea will forever have a place in my heart. I now have a great appreciation for taking shoes off at the door, for bringing mats and tents everywhere, and for food bags to separate food waste from other waste (no garbage disposals!) Owen learned so much and changed so much in Korea. He learned to crawl, stand, walk and talk in Korea. He developed sweet relationships with house mother, grandmother, and our dear friend Teresita.
I learned how to better be a mom of two in Korea. Looking back at my first impressions post, I talked about not going on too many adventures during the week without Austin. Well, with different travel companions and by myself, we drove all over going to the beach, to museums and Buddhist temples. I even drove to Seoul by myself with the boys for a doctor’s appointment! We explored Samgilpo by foot as well, finding hiking trails up the mountain, running on the sea wall, to the port or through the rice fields, and even making it to a nearby lake. We played on the seashore and found so many interesting shells. Korea was so special to us and we were so sad to leave. If we ever have the opportunity to return to Korea, we WILL go back.