A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Seoul Sought, or, So long and thanks for all the kimchi

I leave Korea tomorrow, homeward bound for Halifax via Toronto and a brief back-flip through time, and thankfully no layover in the United States (no offense; airport hassles, you guys know the drill).

I've said most of what I wanted to say about Korea through this past year in posts. I have been trying to think of something conclusive about what I'll take with me from my time here—nursing bekseju, pondering Han, laughing with the most wonderfully spirited children I've ever gotten to know.

If anything, I've taken equal parts pride and humility from this year: pride at where I come from, and the things that I realize make up my idea of home, but also the humility that comes from being a long-term guest in a country where life can be baffling, and you tend to feel like a creature of spectacle.

I am incredibly grateful for all the kindness and generosity people have shown me here, from my endlessly obliging hagwon boss, to the kind Paris Baguette proprietor Mr. Kim and his countless free pastries, to the friendly restaurant ajummas who would smile and flip an extra fried egg onto my bowl of bibimbap.

Today was my last day at the school, and I faced a barrage of little people hugging my legs and saying:

"Bye-bye, Sam Teacher!"

"Thank you!"

"I love you!"

"Bye-eeeeeee! Goodbye!"

It was pretty sweet. I'm going to miss these little ones. Part of me wants to smuggle a few off in my suitcase and take them off somewhere green, and as far from a classroom as possible.

Thanks to all who read and were entertained by Seoul Seeking. Though this is my last post from Korea, feel free to check back every now and then and I'll post links to any new writing or blogging that's worth a spit.

***

And so it went that 25-year-old Sam-Sam shed both a Sam and a tacked-on Korean birth year as he climbed onto an airplane and began a long haul backwards in time, grateful for the memories and the new perspective on this mostly green and blue cosmic lump we all inhabit our own little nooks of.

Sometimes it helps to not be so exclusive with our choice of nooks.

Annyonghi kyeseyo, Korea.

3 comments:

ZenKimchi said...

Bye bye, Sam Teacher!!!

Pam said...

Sam, it has been an amazing year for me too. Seeing my son go off into the big world, on another continent, and knowing that he would be just fine !!!!
Being a mother to you and your amazing sister has been the most important and fulfilling role in my life.
I am constantly amused by your wit and insight.
I know you've had to deal with loneliness and soul stretching situations mixed up with joy and adventure.
You stuck it out, honoured your commitment and will be home in 7 hours....well done Sam Sam !!!

Jon Allen said...

So Long Sam.
It's been interesting reading about your experiences.
Good luck back home.