Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Confessions from afar

Much of what I post on this blog is filtered.  It's filtered to show all the fun things I've done while I've been in Korea.  But it's time I confess the truth: much of my time here has been unhappy.  I've previously alluded to having a hard time adjusting here, and that certainly was the case at first, but as time goes on, I don't feel like it's gotten much better at all.

I can't say I haven't laughed or smiled while I've been here, certainly, there have been happy moments, and I have made many wonderful friends, but I have found most of my time feeling empty and sad.  And I certainly don't feel like it has been for lack of trying.  Up until recently, I had been taking Korean language classes to try to adapt better to the culture.  As you can see from previous posts, I've gone on many different trips and done many events to try to learn more about and see different parts of the country too.

But as I've now been here for nearly 6 months, I feel that I have more unhappy feelings than happy ones.  I sometimes find myself crying in the school bathroom because I feel so unhappy.  As one friend said to me "that is a red flag".  They're totally right, and it is.  This is not to say that I was particularly unhappy with my school - quite the opposite in fact!  I didn't mind going into work every day to see the kind staff and students.  But work is just a small part of my life, especially when it's not something I want to do long term.  I feel like I am getting to the point that perhaps it's best if I take this experience for what it was, and say "Korea is just not for me".

Korea is an extremely different culture from what I am used to.   I know many people have come here before me, and have dealt with their troubles in Korea in various ways and have learned to love it and went on to stay for many years.  The more that I think about it, however, I feel like I am wasting precious time here.

It's funny what you learn to appreciate when you are without it.  As the song goes "you don't know what you've got til it's gone".  I knew I had a happy life in Ottawa, but I don't think I knew just how great and happy it was until I was here in Korea.  I don't pretend to think that my life was perfect in Ottawa, but I certainly didn't feel like crying every day while I was there.  Maybe that's the lesson I was supposed to learn by coming here?  To appreciate my home and all that comes with it.

I also know many people who come to Korea are trying to run away from a difficult life back home (relationship and/or job issues) and stay in Korea, miserable for X amount of time for those same reasons.  Fortunately for me, I don't have those problems.  While I might not actually have a job waiting for me back home, I believe I will be able to find something.  And I certainly have a wonderful man waiting for me at home.  My friends, my family, my city.  They all made my life very happy - something I haven't felt since being here.

I have done what I wanted to do here:

  • I want to move and teach overseas because I want to have a different experience. *CHECK*
  • I want to experience living in a different country, in a different culture, with different challenges. *CHECK* 
  • I even want to experience culture shock. *DOUBLE CHECK*
So does that mean I should continue to feel sad and stay?  I don't think it does.

And so, I have decided to tender my resignation to the school effective November 1st.  Which means I will be home shortly thereafter.

I am so afraid of people viewing me as a failure or a quitter for not staying the year here.  I don't want to feel like I have let people down.  But, I am sure that there are those who will view it in that way (whether they are here in Korea or in Canada).  I am a person of tremendous self-pride and to make this decision is not something I have done lightly.  I have given it much thought, and a great amount of prayer.  I have talked with so many people and asked for a sign from above.  But I know that ultimately, the decision is up to me.

I'm sorry if you're one of the people let down by this decision, but I have to think of my own self happiness, and, sadly, it just isn't here in Korea.  I will always hold this experience in a very special place in my heart.  I don't regret coming here. While it is not what I expected to be or the result I thought would happen, I have learnt a great deal from it and from those I encountered on this adventure.


  1. Dear Andrea...you do not owe anyone an apology so don't say sorry. If there is anyone out there who has too much time on their hands to personally feel 'let down' by your decision, it means they are too bored with their own lives to makes judgements about yours. You have done well...I think it's big of you to be real with yourself and your feelings...to admit what you like and not like....to come this far when you really didn't have to. You did your very best = Good job! ^^

  2. Hey Andrea, I don't think leaving means to fail. It is really difficult living overseas. Lots of people left Mozambique early too, including my two roommates.
    Crying every day is a sign of depression. It's far better to recognize it and do something about it.

  3. You owe no apologies - if this was about your own personal growth - CHECK! You've come to a wise decision my friend - like anything else in life, relationships, friendships, jobs - sometimes, the healthiest decision to make for yourself is the one that will make you the happiest. You are BLESSED to be able recognize that you have so much to be thankful for - and so much waiting for you back home...a loving partner, friends who care about you dearly, family that surely misses you! You aren't doing yourself any favours by letting yourself feel this way any longer. Super proud of you - you've got such guts. xo

  4. Coming back early is really brave because of the reason you mentioned (feeling judged), fessing up about being depressed is always brave, and giving something new and unknown a chance in the first place was super ballsy. You'll never be stuck wondering "what if?"

    I was pretty confused as to why you were leaving in the first place, with so much great stuff going on in your life here! Looking forward to seeing your smile in person soon :)