Monday, May 11, 2009

RE: The rest of my life

Uh, welp.. it turns out that I jumped the gun a bit on the whole "didn't score the cop gig" thing. It turns out that I did get selected, after all. I can't believe that I'm being given a second chance at my dream, and I hope that I will prove worthy of it. The academy starts in a few weeks, and I've got a lot to get done to prepare.

Kim and Emily are still in Seoul; she has put in her notice with her current employer and will be coming back to the US in June. Because of the timing, I will not be returning to Korea. I'm bummed that I won't get to see some of you guys again, but that's kind of the nature of expat friendships I guess. Depending on who you are, we may only have met once or twice, but you have all made an impression on me, and I will miss you. You are beautiful, fascinating people, and I am glad to have known you, however briefly. I also hope you'll look us up if you're ever in Las Vegas!

I only spent about 5 months in Korea, but in even that short time it grabbed a piece of me and didn't let go. It was my first expat experience, and even that brief time really opened my eyes to the vast diversity of the human condition. Living in a country like ours, it's easy for Americans like me to subconsciously assume that everyone's culture follows the Western model. If I had to pick just one country to prove that conceit wrong, well, Korea would be the place.

What a spectacular challenge to my preconceptions Korea turned out to be. Certainly there are cultures more foreign to the Western mindset, but I cannot think of any place that mixes Western culture with their own in such a unique way. There's just enough in there that's familiar to really throw you for a loop at what's emphatically not familiar.

I returned to the US with a new outlook on everything that I take for granted here, and I sincerely believe that everyone should live abroad if ever given the opportunity. The experience just gives you so much, makes you such a larger person. Of course we've all heard people say that, but you can't really understand it unless you've done it. Anyone reading this who has considered living abroad, whether in Korea or elsewhere: do it. Do it right now. It is an adventure that you will never, ever regret.

Korea is by no means an "easy" place for an expat, but if you meet and embrace that challenge you will come out of the experience with a spirit enriched in ways too numerous to mention. Korea will always be a part of me, and I will always be a part of her.



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