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As of right now, this is the last blog post I plan to write about Korea. I’m still trying to learn Korean, although grad school has kind of side-tracked me on that. But maybe once I get back into the swing of it, I’ll post a little more about studying the language.
It’s been a year now since I’ve been back in the States and I originally envisioned this post being longer. I figured there’d be a lot I miss about Korea, and in someways there is. I’ve been putting off writing this post. I’m not really sure why but there’s a certain amount of sadness in looking back at my time in Korea.
When I first got back, like I said, I figured there’d be a lot that I miss. And I do. I miss my awesome apartment that was so close to a bunch of parks, walking distance from work and the main stores. I miss Seoul, and every time I’ve gone into a city since leaving Korea I’ve had flashbacks of walking around Seoul’s streets. I miss being able to travel around the country so cheaply, eat great food cheaply, do almost everything cheaply. I miss all the new experiences and the festivals. But after thinking about it for a year, the only thing that I really, truly miss are my students. I can always go back to Korea, see the sights, experience the festivals again. To a certain extent I miss the friends I made in Korea, but luckily things like Skype and Facebook make it pretty easy to keep in touch now. That’s not really the case with my students.
While I was teaching I used to collect the pictures my students drew for their projects at the end of class and hang them up over the wall. So over the course of a term, you could see all the work they had done. When the term was over, I took them home and put them in a binder. When I was getting ready to leave, it was obvious the binder was too big. I had a really hard time going through and figuring out which ones I should take back with me. I basically wanted them all, since each one reminded me of a specific class or specific student. Then the horrible happened. Even with the binder wheedled down, I realized it wouldn’t fit in my luggage. I asked a co-worker to ship the binder to me, but unfortunately my request was forgotten and the binder was left, with all my students work, in my apartment when a cleaning crew came to clean it out for the next teacher. I’m glad that I at least took out the letters some of my students wrote to me and brought them with me, so at least I still have those.
That’s probably my only real regret from Korea: not bringing that binder with me. I should have tried to make room in my luggage, or stuff it into my backpack somehow. And I had also asked that a letter I had written to a student be delivered to him. He had asked me for a study guide on logical fallacies the last few classes and I wasn’t able to find the copies of the work sheet. But he wrote me such a nice letter saying good-bye and he was one of my favorite students. I don’t think that letter ever got to him.
On a happier note, a mini-regret I have is that I never started any classes by speaking to them in German. I always wanted to it, but never did. In hindsight, it would have been a good April Fool’s Day prank, to speak German but pretend it was English and act like I expect them to know what I’m saying.