The main purpose of this blog has always been to write about all aspects of Korea, studying Korean, preparing to move there, dealing with language and cultural struggles while living there, all written in a light and cheerful tone. However, since I’m now once more out of Korea and back in Denmark, I feel that I should address the more difficult psychological aspects of repatriation after a long period abroad. After all, life is not always easy, and I wouldn’t be sharing the whole story if I pretended everything was just rainbows and pink unicorns all the time.
As all of my wonderful readers and followers on social media will know, I’m struggling a bit these days. Some days are definitely easier than others, but then for no apparent reason, other days seem to drag me into a dark hole where there seems to be nothing but emptiness.
In many ways, it feels just like going through a phase of grief. Sure, I’m happy to be reunited with my family and friends, but I feel I’m currently living without a vital part of myself. I’m wearing my emotions on my sleeve and even the smallest mundane and insignificant event can trigger a reaction.
I’m usually a very energetic and passionate person with tons of things going on in my life but lately, I feel trapped in a strange vacuum. While I’m not exactly unemployed, I’m currently on sabbatical, which presents a considerable challenge in terms of establishing a daily rhythm and finding the stability I so desperately need right now.
I’ve learned long ago that too much leisure is my single greatest enemy, so I do make an effort to schedule things in the morning in order to have a good reason to start my day early. Usually, I go to the library between 8 and 9 and study or write until noon. Then I head home for lunch and then back to the library to spend the afternoon. I’ve come to firmly believe that a busy mind is a happy mind, but I must admit that I’m struggling to keep busy all day. Each day, I’m spending several hours on Korean literature, I listen to podcasts, I read the news, I watch tv shows, I try to exercise, I even took up learning Japanese again. This morning I had my first online Japanese lesson in over a month (yes, I sucked in case you were wondering), and starting from September I’ve arranged with a Japanese professor at my local uni that I may audit his intro classes. Hopefully, that should provide some structure as well.
I also make an effort to set up meetings with friends here and to prioritize phone calls with my friends in Seoul. I just had an hourlong call with my best Seoul girl this Saturday and it was truly healing to catch up and laugh out loud.
In two weeks I’ll be traveling to Budapest with my two best friends from Denmark, and I’m looking forward to three days of city walks, sightseeing, shopping and eating in the best company imaginable. I realize that each day that passes by brings me one day closer to Seoul, so, for now, the main goal of each day is to finish it with a sense of accomplishment and as little sadness as possible. I obviously don’t succeed every single day but some days I do, and I know that in the end, the big victories are simply the sum of all the small ones. So for now, I’m just taking one day at a time trusting that, somehow, everything will be okay.