Mass Exodus

Ah, coming and going - the nature of the beast. You come to Korea and you've got your year contract and this huge open mind about what you're doing to do and who you're going to meet and how everything is just unknown and exciting.

What you don't think of is how insanely fast you'll become close to the people you're around, and how unprepared you'll be for when they leave. You're thrown into this pressure cooker of a situation, in a job you've probably never done before, surrounded by nothing but Asian people and their different customs and you find solace in these people that have been here longer than you, have gotten used to the ropes, and are actually showing you how to stand on your own two feet.

When you meet someone new the first question is almost always, "So how long have you been in Korea?" and everyone responds in one of five ways:

1) The Newbie: "I've been here ___ days/weeks!!! It's so great/overwhelming/amazing!"
2) The 'I've Got This' Guy: "Ah yea a few months in, it's not so bad. I'm really enjoying it so far"
3) The Mid-Grade Person: "Yep. I'm halfway through. Can't believe time's gone this fast."
4) The Counter: "Oh Man, time's almost up. I've got ____ months/weeks/days left - going home is gonna be sad, but great!"
5) The Lifer: "Ah a few years... just don't feel like goin home"


And you can't really avoid it, its just what happens. When I first got here I met dozens of people, all in various stages of their Korean stint and it was fascinating to hear the difference in opinion based on time spent here alone. However, I had the chance to meet 4 really great guys that were apart of this little Suji contingent we got goin on here. One was on my staff from Newfoundland, two at a school down the street from Minnesota and Ireland, and the other at a school across the street who was from the UK. All of them basically introduced themselves to me as #4 - The Counter. In fact, if my memory serves me correctly, on my first night I was told by one of them that getting to know them wouldn't be great because they were going to get up and leave in November anyway.

But, I've never been one to listen to what I'm told, and wound up becoming pretty good friends with them - some more than others of course, but I'll miss them all equally as much. They have each left on a different day in the past two weeks and it's almost hard to imagine life being the same afterwards. BUT, with every door closing another opens, and someone else shows up, and #1s - The Newbies are pretty great too. It's fun to watch someone else struggle with what you once struggled with! (and it's good to help them out too, I suppose)

The great thing about all of this, is that your friendships get fast tracked. So you're either friends, or you're not. And they're the kind of relationships that you know are gonna be around until the end of time because honestly, who else will ever be able to understand what you went through for a year? And so, what you have are people planted all over the world in English speaking countries that you can literally go and visit whenever you want and take advantage of their hospitality and reminisce about times gone by.

So - to Michael, Robbie, Eamon, and Ben - if you ever find yourselves reading this (and I doubt you will) life is Suji will surely be different with you guys gone, but we'll keep Exit open late and the bottles of Soju flowing for ya. Here's to crazy times, and eventually hanging out in our respective places of origin!
Jenn PeddeIntermediate Korea