My Blog

Transition-Making the exit

I was sitting in the campus cafe around 1:30 on Monday thinking that I had already accomplished a lot that day. I savoured the moment and really enjoyed a cup of black tea. 

After having asked around to see if a colleague or some teacher wanted them to no avail, I left the apartment with bag of books  in hand to gather up more books from the office and take the whole lot of some 10 books to the library. I donated them all. The staff looked pleased and I felt pleased at finding some situation where they might get used some more. 

This success in unloading the books that day followed success the night before in reaching customers for a couple of priced items through an online system. I sold the TV monitor and the printer for decent prices within two hours of posting them on the online buy and sell page. I am glad I am getting some cash for the more costly items on my list of things I cannot keep. The exchange is to be done next week so as to give me a little more time to enjoy these two items.

That same night, I also made arrangements to leave a foam mattress for someone who could really use it. I can use it up to my last night in Korea, then roll it up and tuck it away in a colleague's neighbouring apartment for the winter, as the receiver of the mattress will go away on vacation very soon. The rest of the bedding can be left in the same place and taken later for use at an animal shelter if no-one else claims it. Another problem solved!

On Monday morning, things went well, too. I dealt with the canceling of my cable and internet service, finally. Whereas I could not get through to the service provider's customer service line last week, I did then. It went well. It turns out the procedure is very simple. The date of the cutoff established, I headed to a local bank to pay the final bill for this service. Another job done!

When I got home, I collected some (biodegradable) plastic cutlery and took it to a local take-out restaurant. I gave them this little gift. In similar fashion, I gave away packages of wrapped pairs of wooden chopsticks to a take-out kimbap restaurant on my street on a previous day. Both incidents drew smiles from the receivers.

I have also been planning more farewell meetings.  I contacted a former colleague who is also about to leave Korea for good and we planned an outing for Tuesday (yesterday). We said our farewells but expressed a mutual interest in reuniting in either Canada or Japan one day. On Tuesday, I assisted a departing colleague who has been a neighbour for four years take luggage to the bus depot. We said our farewells. 

Speaking to a colleague in the cafe the other day, I got agreement to meet next week. Moreover, a few others have replied in the affirmative to my invitation to meet over dinner and a beer one night next week.

While going through the motions of leaving Korea, I continue to set the stage for a renewal in Canada. I bought a GIC with savings from Korea this morning. I applied for an admin job at my old university.

Each logistical step in the process of leaving Korea is taken, is a relief. Each nagging problem is being solved, one by one. The activity of finding takers for my belongings alleviates the stress of the big move. The forward motion of organizing a new life in my homeland counters the heaviness of saying good-bye to this one.

Yesterday, my friend and I deliberately awaited the sunset as a symbolic act of farewell to Korea and our past lives of teaching in Korea. We toasted with glasses of sparkling juice and relished the beauty of the setting sun.

So long, 2016! So long, life of the expat teacher! Out with the old, in with the new!

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