Hold Back the Tears (but Pour the Soju)

Hold Back the Tears (but Pour the Soju)

by Rachel Lynn, Greenheart Travel Teacher in South Korea

Korean dinning and drinking is something I’m really going to miss when I go back to America.  Surely I can find a place to grub on some Korean and without a doubt I will be drinking with my friends and family at home.  However, it’s the WAY it’s done in Korea that I really love and it’s experiencing it with Korean people that I sincerely enjoy.  Going out to a traditional Korean dinner and being the only foreigner there is a pretty special experience.  Everyone wants to teach you something, whether it’s how to hold a shot glass when accepting soju from your elders, or how to wrap your galbi with radish peels.  There is a way to eat everything and there is a way to accept and pour drinks.

As I sat at my table, surrounded by the people who have become my coworkers and friends over the past year, a sense of fondness and appreciation overwhelmed me. I brought myself to Korea but these people brought Korean culture to me. In that moment, I felt as though I was having an out of body experience. I saw everything going on around me, but the only thing I could hear were my thoughts. I looked around at everyone smiling and clanking their glasses while the green bottle got passed from person to person. Sadness crept into my lungs.  I thought back to my first staff dinner and remembered this exact moment being one of my first big cultural experiences only 12 short months ago. “I am so lucky,” I thought to myself, and I meant it.  I have been truly blessed to have been able to be a part of this culture, and what a wonderfully rich culture it is. I am so proud to have spent one year here. As my thoughts enveloped me, I masked my sadness, held tight to my appreciation, brought myself back into the moment, and shared another shot with my friends at the table.

Read more from Rachel’s farewell dinner in Korea on her blog…

Learn about Teaching in Korea from Rachel's blog.

Learn about Teaching in Korea from Rachel’s blog.

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