I had a somewhat crazy realization the other day while talking to some fellow travelers. We were all sharing our stories of where we come from, where we’ve been and where we may be going. I was telling my story as I normally do but then at one point talked about being ‘homesick’ rather than referencing my hometown of Wisconsin I found myself speaking of being homesick for Korea. You know the phrase "You don't know what you have till it's gone" well with travel this couldn't ring more true.
As I go from one country to the next I’m constantly building friendships, adapting to a new way of life and discovering new foods. As I become accustomed to these things they’re suddenly ripped away when I decide it’s time to move on and experience yet again another country. Sure, I only have myself to blame for the constant movement I must endure, but that doesn't make saying goodbye any easier.
As I enter a new country I inevitably find myself missing some aspect of the last, maybe it’s the food, weather, ease of travel or most likely the people, but there’s always something that makes those first few days of adjustment difficult. What’s interesting to me though is that no matter the country I’m in there is always something that reminds me of and makes me long for Korea. This isn’t an extreme surprise as I spent two amazing years in the country building friendships faster, deeper and longer lasting than many I’ve had throughout my life.
Sometimes I take this as a sign that I’m longing for my second home, not quite ready to close that chapter and consider how and when I will return. I’m still not sure that’s the correct interpretation of my homesickness but it’s a definite possibility. It could also be that all the idiosyncrasies of Asia lead me into comparisons with the comfort I felt in Korea and the multiple stories I have of first confronting all these crazy things: squat toilets, shoes off, being pointed/stared at, getting my picture taken by random strangers, eating strange foods and [omg] using chopsticks!
In the next few months I’ll finally be crossing borders as my travel leads me [finally] into Europe. Aside from new cultures, different foods, languages and people I’m going to use those travels as a test of where I want to find myself at the end of all this. I often think of something one of my friends in the Philippines told me “I can’t wait to see where your finish line is”. I’m just as curious as h,e is but for now I feel that I haven’t even crossed the halfway point. I’ve found comfort in so many places I never in a million years would have imagined, but at the same time feel that I’ve only gotten started. It’s amazing where life can take you after a few random decisions, I distinctly remember telling my friends “It’s just a year”, which of course was now three years ago. Although I’m in no hurry to cross it, I too can’t wait to see what my finish line looks like, but for now I’ll enjoy the view until I get there.