April 12, 2012 3 Comments
Lately, by the end of every work week, all I can think about is packing up and leaving this country behind. Then I spend a night in Seoul partying, exiting a club into weak, early morning sunlight and I think, “moar!” And it has been thus for the past month. I have been torn absolutely in two about whether or not to stay another year or to come home for good. This week, I want to stay. Here’s why.
1. 24-Hour Party People!
The people I’ve met in Seoul know how to party and I like tagging along. One of my new found friends once confided in me that he didn’t party as hard as he does now, back in university. I have a feeling it’s that way for a lot of foreigners. As I’ve said in a past blog post, I have the impression that when people party away from home, it’s a lot more intense than when they party in their native land. Coupled with the fact that the subway stops running in Seoul at midnight, you end up with a city full of party-goers practically “stranded” at the club if the cab fare makes it prohibitive to go home. And frankly, who wants to go home anyway? Not me.
For my part, I was busy about inviting people to church and trying not to think about the existence of sex throughout university. I did not experience frosh week and I never once got drunk in my three initial undergrad years. I didn’t make out with strange boys (or girls) and I didn’t have what would likely have been a short-lived, but wonderfully intense romance with that music major who wrote a song for me. No, instead I worked for Jesus. Unfortunately Jesus doesn’t generally pay well–neither monetarily nor in life enjoyment–so I spent the latter part of my 20s and my early 30s making up for that in a lot of areas. But I never got around to clubbing. And so right now partying like it’s 1999 feels like a rite of passage that just has to happen.
On a more serious level, I’ve spent a lot of time trying my best not to get bitter about all the things I missed out on during my fundamentalist years, and it’s still a battle to focus on the here and now and the future, rather than the past. Having this much fun now is almost like a way of cauterizing that wound–hopefully once and for all. Bet you never thought you’d hear a therapeutic reason for getting shitfaced and dancing all night every weekend. Having only figured out how fun Seoul could be in the last month and change, I’d like to get good and tired of the scene before I come home and settle down like an adult. So for that reason, another year here would be a good thing.
2. Go West…or East
Before I came to Korea I wasn’t particularly interested in traveling for the sake of traveling. I’ve always been the kind of person who traveled to see people, rather than places, or to sleep on sunny beaches. But now, as my contract comes to a close, I lament the fact that I didn’t work harder to do more traveling this past year. Also, given how little vacation time I get on this job, it’s almost impossible to do a big trip, so it’s not likely I’ll be able to cram much into the next three and a half months. All I’ve got planned at the moment is a brief vacation in the Philippines, but there’s still Japan and China and Vietnam and a number of other places nearby that are worth seeing. And of course, ideally I’d visit them when I’m already based on this side of the world and the airfare isn’t eating up most of my budget. Another year would make that all a lot more feasible.
3. What Next?
At present I still do not have a solid game plan for what I would do with my life if I did return to Canada now. The only vague thought I’ve had is that maybe I’d want to go back to school for journalism, but that’s it. It would probably be a good idea to have a clearer picture of the future before I start taking stuff out of storage, and another year here would afford me an enjoyable pace at which to dream that up.
4. The Money Honey
I have not succeeded in paying off much debt so far at all. At first I was going gangbusters and then one day I wasn’t. So it’s been minimum payments on the credit card for the most part and nothing more (though I have continued contributing to my RRSP). I did spend a bit of money getting myself set up here but for a while I was definitely spending too much on groceries, cabs and who knows what else. It would be nice to have another far less emotionally fraught year to get on top of this debt thing.
5. Let’s Stay Physical
Without question it is easier for me to stay on top of my fitness here in Korea. I have less access to foods that send me into a binge death spiral and thus far my schedule (2-10pm) has made it easy to incorporate exercise into my life. Another year away from the familiar would help tremendously towards making these habits second nature rather than a continuing fight.
6. Say “Cheese!”
This isn’t a big thing, but since I’ve been here I’ve been a lot more interested in taking great pictures and I think I’m getting better at it. I’d like to do more of that. Also Korea provides a lot of fantastic photo opps and I’d like to take advantage of those.
7. A Story for the Ages
Now that I’m over all the shocks to the system of living in Korea, I feel like I’m ready to start writing something besides this blog. A friend suggested joining a writing workshop here that I’ve attended a couple times and I’ve finally submitted a piece for critique. It would be wonderful to stay here for another year and just soak up the stories of this place in a way that I haven’t felt able to thus far. I’d hate to come home with so few penned stories of my time here.
8. It’s Raining Men!
The cool thing about a relatively big expat community is that there is a huge variety of people. In general, my experiences with dating in Toronto have been pretty piss poor. My impression is that born and bred Canadian guys are deeply afraid of women or something. In Seoul, that’s less of an issue because there’s such a variety of guys to deal with. The Americans and Europeans seem much more willing to lay their cards on the table and seem to have a broader idea of what is beautiful as well. I have never in my life been told so often by so many men that I’m beautiful. It’s a refreshing change for me. Granted I didn’t party in Toronto like I do here, and maybe all the forward guys are just waiting for me in the clubs and bars of Hog Town, but so far, in this department, Seoul is rocking me like a hurricane.
9. Speak Me Some Korean
I have done a dismal job of learning Korean this year. I can still only say a few things and I feel like a bit of a dweeb. If I did stay a second year, I’d be really committed to learning the language this time.
Of course, there are downsides to staying too. In short, they are:
-I could end up in a shitty job again
-I feel really far away from my friends
-the pollution here is awful
-health issues are a pain in the ass here and I’ve had plenty of them
To add to this, there are also good reasons to come home. In short, they are:
-I can start getting on with the next stage of my life
-I have a guaranteed soft landing with friends and family in Toronto at the moment that might not be available in another year
-being back with friends and family, period
-it would be easy to pick back up with my beloved writing group and choir after just a year away
-it will probably be easier to meet someone looking for a long term relationship and it’ll be less complicated to get involved
-I won’t feel left behind by my friends
-everything is just less complicated
And then, of course, the cons of a 2012 homecoming:
-the potential for long term unemployment with no real idea of what I want to do and no real savings
-I might immediately fall off the fitness wagon
-I might get very depressed if things don’t take off right away
-the intense instability of moving yet again
Update: I started writing this post a couple weeks ago. As of now, my decision is to try to find a good job in Seoul and to stay for another year. If I can’t find a job in Seoul at a good school with a good reputation, however, I will come home. And to that end I do have to start thinking in terms of Plan B–what to do next if I do come home for good. This decision makes the title of this post entirely wrong now, but I can assure, for a solid month or so, I was absolutely torn.