5 years ago today I came to Korea. I remember getting off the plane all bundled up because this California girl was coming to a place where the temperature actually drops below freezing. I remember wearing 4 layers of clothing and still feeling frozen. I remember getting off the bus in Oosan dong where the old intercity bus terminal was located 5 years ago. I remember not knowing any Korean, not having a phone and feeling lost and helpless because my boss couldn't find me. I was 21 years old. Fresh out of college with all my belongings packed away in a suitcase that could have fit me inside of it. Oh that..and my guitar. I stood there being bombarded by Korean taxi drivers trying to find out where I was going. I remember them trying to help me by calling some taxi driver's daughter who spoke a little bit of English. Finally when my boss found me, it was the biggest relief of my life. I thought I was abandoned after flying 12 hours to a place where nobody knew me.
Now, 5 years later, 5 years older, with a firm grasp of the language and some of the coolest friends I've ever, and will ever meet. I am grateful for this amazing experience that has taught me about life, responsibilities, growing up, love, friendship, work, politics, the world and most importantly myself. I feel like this experience has enriched my life and although I am still a little lost about my future, I am more sure of who I am as a person and the kind of person I want to continue to be. Korea...you have been a blessing, never to be forgotten. I am glad I came here even after EVERYTHING that has happened. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have gotten to meet the friends that I did, taught the students that changed my life, learned Korean, broken a little out of my shell/comfort zone, fallen in and out of love, questioned my life, questioned myself as a person, and gotten more comfortable with myself. I've done so many things that I never would have had the chance to do if I were in America, so for that...I give you a piece of my heart. It will remain here forever with the memories that I've made and in exchange I will take the lessons you taught me and carry it with me for as long as I live.
Good night Wonju. Thanks for everything. It's been an amazing five years we've spent together. Happy 5 year Anniversary.