What did I do this year to help me feel more at home?
What has changed and can’t be unchanged?
Where do I go from here (*where do I see myself)?
After one full year back home I don’t feel at ease or content with my life as much as I hoped I would. I feel like my life isn’t changing as much as my longtime college day friends, and my life is not improving even though I have so much background, knowledge, and skills that I would like to use if I could apply them to a field position. Additionally, I do not feel fully at home.
Some time after my permanency back home kicked in, I felt quite lonely. With my boyfriend being back in Korea, my closet friends of 3-4 years living overseas, my old college friends moving onward to new things in their lives, my older sister starting a family, and my parents retiring, I felt like my place back home had gotten miscued somewhere within the grey lines. I felt like my life was cut in two between the a young woman who smiled and lived a semi-care free lifestyle in Korea to the to a young woman who lives a stress-filled life back home saving for a future that looks bleak for her due to obligations that she must overcome in order to succeed.
These two sides of me make up who I am today. I know that I can not press a replay button on my life and some life choices that I have made, such as returning home, can never be reversed. Still though I wonder if I could have avoided splitting my life into two. In truth, this was inevitable. Speaking from an expat perspective, moving to a new country to live a new life, whether short-term or long-term will split your life in two, or three, and so-forth. Just like starting a new life in a new city or state you learn to acclimate, make new friends, find your niche, and settle down. With each new life further distance is placed and divisions are made between your former self.
Some former expats accept their divided lives, while others try to connect their lives or blend them. For me, I have tried over the past few years to blend my life in Korea with my life back home. But, missing pieces or people have made it difficult to fully feel complete. Wanting to compile my thoughts on my divided life, between Korea & New York, ultimately inspired me to start my Yeppunshikan blog.
Looking back at my one year home I no longer feel homesick as I often had felt during my past few years abroad. What helped me overcome my homesickness spell was seeing my family, relatives, and my senior pup Gemini again. Being surrounded by my family for months, experiencing an ordinary day back home like usual, and witnessing my family enter into new stages of their lives helped me feel more at home this year. But, witnessing these new stages in my home life brought to light many new changes. For one thing, since being back home I earned a new title ‘tati or tatis’ which means aunt. I also became a godmother.
While these were positive new changes I quickly grasped the realization of concerning changes that could not prevented from occurring(i.e. my dog being diagnosed with chronic k/d, my parents reaching retirement age, my student loans interest rising due to being ideal while I was away, etc.) Compared to the positive new changes, accepting the changes that could not be prevented is still taking time.
Currently, I am taking hold of responsibilities I have had in both of my lives. In terms of Korea I still have responsibilities or commitments in managing my savings abroad. I still have responsibility in working out the next steps (i.e. logistics) of my relationship with my boyfriend. As for responsibilities in my home life, I have the responsibility to help out my family when they are need, I have the responsibility of paying for health expenses for my dog, and I have to the responsibility of paying off student loans. These responsibilities are neither new or old. Well, maybe my relationship is the newest (^◇^；). Nevertheless, I have grown accustomed to all of these responsibilities and try to live my life committed to them.
What I hope for in the coming year, 2017, is to be more courageous and confident as are attributes of the rooster. However, as a dragon by birth year, I should be more enthusiastic and straightforward with myself. Next year, I want to feel reassured that my inner compass will lead me in the right direction in working to further blend my former Korea life with my present life, in accepting both positive and un-preventable changes taking place, and in staying focused on commitments that I not only feel responsible for, but genuinely care about. With that stated my future is not predetermined even though I know what I want to do with my life. I still have so many personal promises I hope to achieve before I too move on in life with more larger commitments such marriage or children. But, I also look forward to such things happening sooner than later if they are with the man I whom I love.
For now, this is where I am in my life and my shared thoughts are where I see myself going. With my upcoming return to Seoul happening in D-27 days I look forward to entering 2017 outside of the miscued grey lines of this year and into clearer paths, beside all those I love and care for.
Have any of you ever lived abroad short-term or long-term and felt a division made between your current and former life?