Times they are a-changin’

A month ago, I was in Korea.  It was hellishly hot; I had to climb over a pile of sand and bricks to get to my classroom; the pinatas for our Mexican lesson had imploded over the weekend; my apartment was full of boxes; I had cockroaches and crickets living in my suitcase; and I was counting the minutes until I left Korea.


Now I’m in Canada.  It is certainly not hot; the air is cleaner, the grass is greener, there aren’t any cockroaches, and I’ve lost that irritating sniffle I had the entire time I was in Korea (from the pollution maybe?).  Best of all, when I wash my hands after a walk outside the water doesn’t turn black.

And yet I miss Korea.  Quite desperately in fact.  I’ve forgotten most of the reasons I was counting down the seconds until I could get on the airplane.  (And I hate flying so they must have been darn good reasons!)

Korea is bathed in a golden glow in my mind now, and I find myself waxing lyrical on the subject to anyone who will listen.  Including the lady at the bank.  And the clerk at the post office.  And the homeless guy in the park yesterday.

I miss my friends obviously.  I spent two years with a group of wonderful women, and now feel as though someone has chopped off my left arm.  But we’ve all moved on to fabulous new adventures, and good friends in foreign countries mean free places to stay, right?

I miss the cheerful hodgepodge of Korea, where shops, homes and taekwondo studios are stuffed cheek-by-jowl, wires explode in cheerful confusion from every electrical pole, and a convenience store is never more than 10 feet away.


Where I live right now, I am (according to Google maps) 2.1 km from the closest place to buy milk.  2.1 KILOMETRES.  Does everyone in Canada have a car, or are they simply supremely organized?

I had forgotten how far apart everything is in Canada.  It takes an hour and a half to take the bus to my cousin’s house, and it’s still in the same city.  This is mind-boggling when you remember that a month ago, I could fly to Japan in 30 minutes.

I miss using chopsticks at every meal.  I miss eating real rice, not weird fluffy Canadian rice that you have to eat with a fork.   I miss Korean mayonnaise – slightly sweet, and in a squeegee star-shaped bottle.  I know it would taste the same whether it was star-shaped or not but it made me happy.

IMG_7421I miss being able to check myself out in every reflective surface that I pass – cars, buildings, shop windows.  People look at you funny when you do that here. There are no mirrors in subways, or buses here either, and I have yet to see anyone checking themselves out on their phone.  Has Korea made me vain? 😀

Taking the bus in Canada is boring.  I hardly even need to hold on!  I will miss the bulging biceps and cat-like balance I acquired taking Korean buses.  I also miss my cat-shaped bus pass.

I miss not needing to take my camera everywhere I go.

I miss being recognized in the shops as “Carrie-teacher.” That said, I don’t miss being followed home by students wanting to see a “Canadian” apartment.  I could never get them to understand that even though I was Canadian, I still lived in a Korean apartment.

And, I never, ever thought I’d say this but I miss kimchi.

I thought of something I don’t miss: spitting.  I don’t miss that at all.  Not one bit.  Ugh.  Just thinking about it makes me cringe.

I know from past experience that this will all pass, and I will soon feel right at home in Canada.  After all, how could I fail to fall in love with a place like this?



About Carrie K

Teacher, writer, traveller. Slightly neurotic. Overly talkative. Loving life. You can also follow me on Twitter: kimchigirl72
This entry was posted in ex-pat, Korean schools, Living abroad, Teaching English, Ulsan, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Times they are a-changin’

  1. Lani says:

    Awww. What a sweet post. Well written too, I might add. You also painted a picture of what Korea was like for you and I’ve never been, so thank you. Hope the transition will be a smooth one. Hugs from the Asia side of the world 🙂

  2. Abo says:

    Bitter sweet, isn’t it? I miss a consistent internet connection, the proximity of everything and you ladies most. I am driving everywhere now, but I do have a convenience store 5 minutes’ walk away. It does feel good to blend in though and not see students at every turn. 😉

  3. Lisa says:

    I love reading your post.. it reminds me so much of my teaching days in Korea. I enjoyed my experience in Korea and miss everything about it despite the fact that I moved back to Canada 7 years ago.. wow. that’s how long that it has been. I hope you are adjusting well to Canada.

  4. Ceri says:

    Awwww, you’ll settle, hun. Or at least I hope you do. Returning home has definitely taught me that I don’t actually like living in my homeland – or home continent – but I hope you do adjust well. 🙂

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