Since graduating middle school, South Korea hasn’t truly been my permanent home. Although my heart, my family, and many of my friends are in South Korea, it is only during school breaks that I return. It is interesting to me that the country I consider my home is also the country I vacation in. Whenever I return to South Korea, I do everything I am unable to do in the US.
South Korea is extremely hot and humid in the summer. When I arrive at Incheon International Airport, I find it quite difficult to breathe, as I am the only person wearing a long-sleeved shirt. One of the first things I do when I arrive in South Korea is stock up my closet. All of the countries I’ve been to, such as the United States and the Philippines, have different styles and sizes. To expand on this, clothes in the US are generally a bit larger than clothes in South Korea despite being marked as the same size. For example, even though a shirt from the US and a shirt from South Korea are both labeled as “small,” the US shirt is actually bigger.
When I’m back in South Korea, I am very happy to see all my Korean friends again. Compared to where I live in the US, the region I live in South Korea offers more activities to do with friends. The entertainment culture in South Korea is really well developed since there are many cities, all easily accessible by public transportation. I can do anything—and go anywhere—at any time since most entertainment options are open 24/7. What I love most is Norae-bang, also known as Karaoke. Norae-bang is really enjoyable, especially when I go with my friends.
One of the happiest things about going back to South Korea is seeing my family. Since I have been studying abroad for eight years, it is quite difficult for me to see them. Despite this, I believe my studying abroad experience has made my family and I closer whenever I go back. Because we miss each other so much, we never take one another for granted. It doesn’t matter what we do, I just feel very glad to be home. We dine out, watch movies, and travel around. Last summer when I visited South Korea, we went to Jeju Island, a really beautiful and iconic spot in South Korea. I enjoyed my time there with my family, eating many delicious foods.
After graduating from Salisbury University in Maryland this December, I’ll be going back to my sweet home to stay permanently this time. For the first two years back in South Korea, I have to complete my mandatory military service (a mandatory service for all men over 18). I believe that this could be a great experience like studying abroad. Similar to studying abroad, I imagine that being in the military would sometimes be difficult, but would also provide me a different yet valuable experience. My studying and living abroad has changed my life, and I strongly believe that when I go back to South Korea, it’ll become even more apparent to me then. I know I’ll miss the life I’ve become used to, but I’m also looking forward to finally returning home.