Part of living in a foreign country is that you tend to make friends with other foreigners. Especially ones who speak your language. There are lots of English speaking people in Korea (besides of course the Koreans who speak English of which there are many) from all over the world (but mostly Canada).
Thing is, you have to be a little crazy to uproot yourself from your comfortable surroundings and move halfway round the world (or less) to a place you know very little about. And that particular brand of crazy, which I possess, tends to make friendships form quite readily. But in Korea, it seems like everyone is here for a short amount of time--one or two years, unless they fall in love--and then returns to where they come from. This week three friends are leaving the country, probably never to return. And it's hard. These are people I've become fairly close with over the last six months--Tracey from my Korean class and then later swing dance club, Yumiko who I met at the YMCA because she was in advanced but bonded with over girl talk and has been mentioned frequently in this blog, and Amanda who was in the beginner class at the YMCA and I've hiked/lunched with now and then.
It's different than leaving people "back home." I was going off to have my adventure. This time I'm being left behind (granted it's in Korea... which I also will leave eventually). And part of me believes (naively, I know) that they'll always be there to come back to.
But Tracey's from England and going to volunteer in Africa. Yumiko's from Japan and going to finish her master's and then maybe get a TESOL certificate in Thailand or something. And Amanda's going to grad school back in Canada. Even if we keep in touch, it seems unlikely I will see them again (other than a trip I plan to take to Kyoto this spring... if it doesn't cost too much).
For now, I go to goodbye parties and lunches and hug them and wish them luck and let them know they will be missed. And I'll meet new friends and so will they and it will be ok. But it's never really easy.