Sunday, November 23, 2014

Catching Up with an Old Friend

I took last Friday off work to meet an old friend, who I first met in 2009 just before I left Ulsan and Korea (for the first time... sort of) and became friends with when working together from Oct-Feb 2010 in Daegu, David. David's now defunct blog was also the inspiration for this blog.

I first met David through Kris, whose last few months in Ulsan were my first few. Kris then left Korea for an extended period before returning to Daegu. His coworkers were doing a camping trip, and even though it was just a couple of weeks before I was leaving Korea I decided to go. We all went to Jirisan and had a great time.

I remember not being 100% sure if I wanted to come back to Korea in 2009 (though 80% sure). The biggest motivation to return was that I was still enjoying the lifestyle, but a second was that this was less than a year after the 2008 recession, and a job in Vancouver was not going to happen. So with a choice of Korea or eastern Canada the choice seemed simple (I was not then, nor am I now, a good winter person). While on the camping trip I talked to Kris and he mentioned that his coworker was leaving, and if I wanted the job I could probably get it. I said yes and a few weeks later left my job in Ulsan and left for a very extended vacation in Korea and SE Asia.

Six months later I was back in Korea at SEI. David and I got to know each other better and became friends. It wasn't until I was talking to David that I realized just how long it had been, and what a fateful decision that was to come back. At the time David and I were in very different places, he had been in Korea since 2004 and was ready to go but was staying so his girlfriend (and later fiancee) could finish school. I was new, excited and full of energy. He was living with a girl who is now his lovely wife and mother to his son, I was in a on again, off again relationship with a Korean girl (fizzling out in 2012). We got along but often disagreed on a few points about Korea and life here, which I am happy to admit now that I was wrong. Now in 2014 I get where he was coming from (because in 2010 I didn't). I have enjoyed my time here but I am very ready to go, and am staying because of my school. I live with a lovely girl who is certainly NOT on again, off again. In some ways, my life here has mimicked David's, which has probably led to me feeling closer to him than we actually are (in a strictly non-creepy way), so it was great to catch up.

We met up at Dunkin Donuts in Seongseo and chatted for a couple of hours about the old days. It was neat talking to him from the perspective I have now, and realizing how far I have come. Unfortunately we could only hang out for a couple of hours, but I really enjoyed it and hope to visit him in Beijing soon (though I have been saying that since 2011, but I feel like it'll happen sooner than later now that China has eased off its restrictive visa policies). He is in Seoul til Wednesday and then back to China.

It also renewed my interest in moving on, as it is clear it has done wonders for him. With that in mind I went home and finished my paper for school. I have one more 4000 word one to do and the 120000 word one, then I am out of school and Korea.

Hope to see David and Em (and Harry) on the other side of the Yellow Sea (with Yen) very soon.

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