For the past two years I’ve been so fortunate to have lived abroad. And in a lot of ways, Seoul feels like my home. I remember having a conversation with an old friend about defining this word ‘home’, both of us being South African and living abroad, and to her, home was not the town where we grew up in as kids, but more so the town where we grew. I’ve written a post on my own thoughts about this here, and I feel like a fumble through this concept quite a bit in the time spent in and out of South Africa. I guess what I’m trying to say now, is that leaving this city, and this tiny apartment where I’ve been cooped up in, leaving the friends I’ve made here and the relationships with each and every soul that has helped made my experience here so incredibly worthwhile, does feel like leaving home.
It’s leaving a life behind, an entire world of living and working, of stuttering through a language, of assimilating into a culture, of becoming more of my surroundings that leaving it and returning to my home country now leaves me with such anxiety that I feel fragile. Fragile from saying goodbye to the people who have lifted me up, fragile from seeing my kids in the classroom for the last time, fragile from the relationships, from the ones who ask you to stay. It’s been a whirlwind living in South Korea. There were many ups & most certainly many downs, but at the heart of it, was something to stay for, to fight for, to live for I guess. There was something inside of me that I needed to find, to figure out and a large part of that was appreciation, not just for the good parts but for the whole part, the ugly parts, where we discover in ourselves something we dislike, our shame and our arrogance. But that’s also the moment where we find our hill. And trust me when I say it feels like a mountain but when you get to the top, all you see is a beautiful view.
Photography by Jeff Simone