So here it is, the end. It seems like it was just yesterday when I arrived to Seoul, a place I knew nothing about and kept getting lost in. It seems like I just stopped wearing my winter coat that I had to wear all through the cold months of February and March. It seems like I just moved in to my room on the fifth floor of the International House, met my roommate, and formed strong friendships with people from all over the world just today. But it also seems like the fear of the new and the unknown never existed because I definitely feel Seoul is my home away from home and I feel happy here.
Coming back from Cambodia was definitely a wake up call that showed me that I had less than 2 weeks left in the beautiful place I am by no means ready to leave. The last week of classes was very busy for me as I had so many final projects, presentations, and papers due. I had to work a lot to be ready in time and luckily everything went well and I met all the deadlines. That was, however, not the end of school work – I had exams waiting for me just around the corner. Three out of four classes I was taking this semester had an in-class final exam so I had a lot of studying to do. Two of them were cumulative and quite extensive (my Free Trade Agreements class final exam lasted 4 hours and I actually needed every single minute to finish it). I have to admit that it felt really good to be done with the exams and know I have a couple of days free before I had to leave Korea.
It was great knowing I’ll get to see all of the people I got really close with at a joint birthday party that three of my friends organized. I really enjoyed celebrating with all the people who made the last semester one of the best ever, but I was also sad since I knew that in just a couple of days all that will be left are so many great memories, millions of pictures, friendships that will last, and future Facebook messages, trip planning, and Skype conversations as means of staying in touch and seeing each other. No longer will we be able to gather for a quick dinner at the “Strawberry Place,” one of our favorite places to eat at. Going Seoul exploring will be impossible as none of us will be there. A quick midnight snack run to GS25 (convenience store chain in Korea) won’t happen again.
The last two days in Korea were all about being around the people who became my Yonsei family and who changed me: they made this semester so much better and I definitely wanted to be around them as long as possible. Thursday night we had our very last night together as my flight back home was on Friday so we went to some of our favorite places in Sinchon (area of the city where Yonsei is located). It was really hard to balance the feelings: I was happy to be around my friends, but I was very sad knowing that I will leave the next day.
Packing was very hard in itself: Having to pack 4 months of my life and just go was one of the worst things I had to do. The good (or bad) thing is that I’m already used to it, but every time I leave a place it feels different. It’s the same sadness, but projected in a different way. I have, however, learned that every ending is also a beginning: When I left Sweden last semester I was incredibly sad, but that ending was a beginning to a new adventure – a semester in Korea. This time I was going home. To be honest, I’ve missed home, my family, my pets, and food. That is a great thing to look forward to!
On Friday morning I finished up packing and then met up with three of my friends who were going to the airport at the same time like me in the SK Global House lobby to say our final goodbye to our friends. It was really hard just leaving the most amazing group of people I ever met behind… Goodbyes at the airport were hard too. Michael, Can, and Loreana are three people I got really close with and boarding the plane knowing they won’t be there felt weird and sad. The good thing is that this goodbye, just like some others, is actually not a goodbye. It is more along the see-you-later lines. Some of the people I met in Korea (including Michael, Can, and Loreana) go to school relatively close to Richmond so I’ll be able to see them again. A lot of people live in Europe so I’ll be able to see then when I’m back home in Europe. That made the goodbyes and the end of the semester easier.
Leaving is hard, but I have something to look forward to: Home and seeing all the friends I made in Korea again! So even though this is the end; it’s just the end of the semester, nothing more. 🙂