Sunday, June 24, 2012

Farewell Doesn't Always Mean Goodbye

Goodbye's are hard.
We've all had our fair share of experiences in which we've had to leave loved ones behind.
It's never pleasant and it definitely does not get easier the more you do it.

These past few weekends have been super bittersweet for me. I've had amazing experiences, but have had to end the day by saying goodbye to people that I've gotten to know really well and will miss terribly. However, I know that this is not a permanent separation - just a temporary goodbye.

The first goodbye occurred last weekend. Everywhere I go, I seem to gain "motherly" figures. It happened during high school, college, heck - even while I was student teaching! This trip has been no less of an exception. Donna and I first met at a Mannam orientation event. I was super excited to find out that she worked on the military base here in Seoul because DODS (Department of Defense Schools) is something that has interested me since my days with Camp Adventure. Not only was she an easy person to talk with, she was an absolute sweetheart and we instantly connected.

Her apartment was the scene for some pretty epic social gatherings. Each one had a different theme - Italian, Mexican, Jamaican, Indian, even American Breakfast! So many laughs and memories were shared and created in that "mansion" of a place! We even found amazing ways to make the clean-up process fun and entertaining!

Not only was she an amazing hostess, Donna is always up for an adventure. Whether that means hiking up a blasted mountain in flip-flops and a sun dress or staying out late at night with us crazy cats, it was never a dull moment with her and her quick-wit around. Go to movies, out to eat, and Wicked were some of the most memorable times that I shared with her during her time here in Seoul.

Last weekend (6/16-17) was no exception. Saturday night, a group of 8 of us went and saw the hit Broadway show Wicked!! I saw it in Des Moines and was just as impressed with it a second time around! I still get chills just thinking about the amazing performance! That night, Myheshni, Alex, and I kept Mama (our nickname for Donna) company on base as she was staying at the hotel on base! The morning brought about an amazing American breakfast and a great start to the day!

We then headed to Mount Ansan and met up with Rahul and Ayman to do some planned hiking. While not quite as adventurous as our first hike together, we still shared plenty of laughs, near spills, and wipe outs!







Following our hike, we headed to Itaewon and ate some amazingly delicious Middle Eastern food. This was a treat for me because I'd never had any of this cuisine before! The spread was magnificent and everyone left super full and content!





The next stop was Yeoido park, a popular hangout place for not only us, but also the Koreans. It was definitely warm so Naz, Alex, Tae Hooie, and I decided to go and play in the pools of water that were at the park. The goal of staying relatively dry was quickly abandoned as some got wetter than others (ahem - Alex - ahem). Even some of the local kids joined in on the fun!


We ended our day by eating some amazingly wonderful Indian food and sharing some Hagen-Daaz ice cream treats!

It was gut wrenching when the goodbyes finally became real. The past few months have just been so magical and knowing that one of the main cogs of that magic was going to be leaving was hard to swallow. However, Donna has a new job in Japan and is getting to spend some well-deserved quality time with her son and daughter-in-law.

I know that I'll be seeing Donna in the near near future and can't wait for those adventures to begin again!

As if one goodbye wasn't enough, this past weekend (6/23-24) brought another parting of ways. Rahul has been someone that I've gotten to know pretty well over these past few months, also through Mannam. He was a student studying at Seoul National University (the university that I live near) and is just an all around great guy! His sense of humor and quirkiness always liven up any gathering that we have and this weekend was not different!

Yesterday was quite the experience. Alex, Ruth, Myhesni, and I met up with Rahul and a few of his friends from Canada at Hongdae, then hopped on the subway and headed out towards Incheon, the island that the main international airport is located on. We got off a few stops before the airport, met up with Alex's friend Rianna, and headed to some islands nearby. The ferry ride was super short and we were on our way in no time!

Along the way, we met a girl from the Netherlands that ended up joining our group for the day! She was also a student and is heading back to Holland on Tuesday. It was great getting to know her a bit and sharing the day with her. We made our way to a beach to hang out at for the majority of the day. It was low tide, meaning we had to walk a good ways to reach the water. The meant a trek through some muddy streams and riverbanks. This felt amazing as the day was pretty hot and humid. It was all fun and games until we started sinking into the mud. Before we could even reach the water, we decided to turn around before we got sucked in!

The next hour or so was spent throwing around the frisbee, napping, and just relaxing. Around 6 we decided to head back towards the ferry port to catch a ferry back to Incheon. One problem - the last ferry left the port at 6:10 pm (according to the map that we had). We of course realize this at 6:30 pm. There was a shuttle bus that traveled around the island and we were all pretty sure that it ran until about 7:30 pm, so we started walking back towards the ferry port, hoping to catch the bus along the way.

We were rewarded as the bus came by, on it's last round of the island, and picked us up! The driver high-tailed it back to the port. Once we arrived at the port, the driver sprinted into the ferry terminal and started talking and gesturing wildly in Korean to see if there were any boats left that were out and about and that could make a pit stop to get us. As luck would have it, there was one LAST boat making it's way back to the main port in Incheon! The people in the terminal made a phone call to the ferry, which made a brief pit stop and picked us up! Karma was definitely on our side this day!

Excited that we were going to be rescued!
We made it back to the main port, grabbed a bus back to the subway stop, and enjoyed some well deserved pizza! During dinner, we were able to Skype with Donna, which was absolutely amazing and made the meal so much more enjoyable. It was so good to see her and talk with her about our crazy day.

Following dinner, we hopped back onto the subway, but not before I managed to hurt myself bounding up the escalator in an attempt to beat Rahul. Once some minor bandaging and patch work had been completed, we boarded the train and headed back towards Seoul.


Saying goodbye to Rahul on the train was another gut wrenching experience. But seeing that he is from near Toronto, I know that this will definitely not be the last time that I see him.

As my time here in Korea winds down (I head back to the US August 4th), these goodbyes are going to get harder and harder. But, knowing that we WILL be seeing each other in the near future definitely helps dull the pain...a little.