Everyone told me that I would change during my year living abroad, and I'm sure they're right, but then again who doesn't change over the span of a year? Add to it the fact that I'm 23, still trying to figure out what I'm doing with my life, and living in a foreign country - yeah changes will be inevitable. Maybe it's that I've hit the 6 month mark, or maybe it was traveling alone, to another country (as if living alone in one isn't enough), but more than likely I think it was the long hours of hiking that led to a few realizations.
1. My mom's right, I am my fathers daughter
She's been telling me for years "you're so much like your father" sometimes with pride but others with a hint of annoyance. I always knew the obvious reasons for this remark but this trip really brought out a few of them. For one I have the garbage disposal stomach of my father - I'll try anything, at least once, but probably twice, just to make sure I didn't misjudge it the first time. Along with this I probably won't complain if it was bad or rave on if it was good - food is food, give it to me and i'll eat it, or should I say inhale it? There were actually a few days (while hiking) that I had a stomachache immediately after eating - we soon realized it's because I wasn't so much chewing my food as just swallowing it, oops. (I blame Grant, he's also a fast eater and made me feel like I was in a race).
Another similarity I share with my father is my laid back, "go with the flow" attitude. I'm willing to do just about anything and tend not to complain too much (unless it involves being cold). One of the most common phrases you'll hear come out of my mouth is "whatever" or "sure" - still trying to figure out how exactly to translate those in Korean, the closets match is 괜찮아, which literally means "It's okay".
2. But I'm also slowing turning into my mother
During one hike Grant asked me if I ever stopped talking. I almost froze in my footsteps and had to look around to find who he was talking to, me? I used to think of myself as the quiet one, well kind of - at least when meeting new people. At some point, and i'm not sure when, this changed - now i'll talk to almost anyone. Although i'm definitely not at my mom's level of chatter - I swear she could hold a conversation with a rock if she had to.
Or maybe it's not so much MY mother I'm turning into, but just a mother (without the kids, of course). There were multiple times during the trip I had flashbacks to childhood, packing, getting train tickets, eating, reading maps, etc. Grant was amazed a few times when I knew where his (shoes/wallet/phone/etc.) was despite the fact that they were his belongings - not mine. I also pack like a pro, I guess traveling with boys, who just stuff wads of clothing into a bag, helps emphasize this fact.
3. I'm athletic?
I say that with a question mark because I still have my doubts. People tell me this but again I have to look around to see who they're talking to. I guess I consider myself more active than athletic, I enjoy exercise and activity but my sports ability are still pretty low. I'm not quite sure when I turned into an outdoorsy nature lover but it's awesome and i'm glad I did. It also helps counterbalance my love for food and eating - if I didn't enjoy a good hike or walk I'd probably weigh 300 pounds.
The most athletic thing I do is yoga - and most people brush that off as stretching or relaxing (false). It can be hard, which anyone that has actually done yoga would know. I've been practicing for a while, both in class and on my own but I guess I underestimate my own ability, although we'll see once I get to the certification course next spring. One thing I do love about yoga is that it gives you strength and not in the bulky "look at me i'm a man" sort of way. There's nothing I love more than when people are surprised about how strong I am and utter "but you're little".
The major down side to all this activity though is that I have the knees of an 80 year old woman. I don't recall any major injuries or anything but my knees sound like cement mixers - not good. Good news is that with all the hiking last week I finally bought a knee brace - not quite sure what I was waiting for. Maybe I'll go to the doctor some time in the next century and have them checked out...
4. Elephant Memory
I'm not talking about random facts, dates or anything of major importance, rather things from my own life. I retold many stories while hiking over the last few weeks and those listening were impressed with the detail I remembered, and ability to tie stories together. And not always stories from my life - it might have been one I heard from someone else, a dream, something from TV or a movie, but whatever it is I somehow will connect it to the present. Almost every conversation we had turned into me saying "that reminds me of this time...." not really sure how or why this happens, maybe I've had a lot of weird and random experience but I think my brain is just good at connecting things. This goes back to #2 and maybe one of the reasons I talk so much.
Except for names - I'm terrible (that's an understatement) at remembering peoples names. I've realized this for a while now and have really tried to improve it but I still struggle. If I meet you don't be surprised if I forget your name within the first 10 minutes. Similarly if you're looking for a movie title, actors name, singer and/or song names, don't look to me - I'll need a picture for any type of recognition.
5. I'm not your typical girl
I guess this could tie in with my new found love for the outdoors but i think it goes a little further than that. For one example, when Grant asked me if there's anything I don't like, I think my response of "shopping" almost gave him a heart attack. But really, shopping usually only does one thing for me and that's stress me out. So what else? I eat weird food, I drink [mostly beer], (maybe too much in high school and college), I "swear like a sailor" (and I won't apologize for it), I'm not afraid of burping, I'm not afraid to get dirty and I'm okay with going a few days without a shower.
On the flip side - I'm afraid of bugs (especially big ones) like the creature in our room at Taroko, and I'm afraid of the dark - or at least I don't really like it. I could tell I was a bit more on edge every time we found ourselves wandering in the dark, or hiking down a creepy dark tunnel.
6. I like writing
I don't really recall enjoying writing throughout school, maybe it's because I don't have to pay attention to grammar, punctuation or spelling - hello typos. Although now that I think about it I always was selected to be the one typing up essays for group projects. However I think that was my ability to BS and stretch out any info we had to meet the minimum requirements. This writing is personal and easy to do - not only do I get to share my adventures with friends and family but it gives me a chance to reflect and review all the things I've been lucky enough to do.
So whether it was my time away from Korea, traveling on my own (kind of), having someone listen to me blabber for 10 days, or just taking a moment to reflect upon myself, i'm not sure. The one thing I do know is that this trip made me appreciate many things about who I am, where I come from and also where I'm going.
This country has a smell, I can't describe it and I actually don't know what it is, but as soon as I step out of the airport I know I've arrived. The land of night markets, bubble tea and so, soooo much food, your tastebuds will be tired.