It’s not often I meet someone and my immediate reaction is just, “YES.”
When I first moved to Korea, I felt pretty lost. Despite the fact that I’m doing something I’d wanted to do for years, I’d come to the harsh realization that I left some of the greatest people I’ll ever know back in America, unsure as to when the next time I would see them will be. I’ll never forget looking out the back window of my cab at my friend Deirdre, who was sobbing and running after the car, as I sat in shock waving and wondering if this was the right choice. I recall sitting in the airport with my ex-boyfriend Tim, someone who I’ve been to hell and back with, and discussed if I was ever going to be able to find friends like the ones I have in Chicago as well as my home state of Pennsylvania. While he assured me that I would, I was terrified to be leaving my comfort zone.
Tim was right, because I have. My friend Sydney is the primary reason I started to feel like Korea had potential to be my new comfort zone. Not only did she take the time to want to get to know me, she took the time to introduce an incredibly foreign land to me. She’s showed me the bus routes, neighborhoods, train stations, restaurants, clothing stores (fitting, NO!), jimjilbangs, norebangs, cafes, bars — you name it, we’ve done it.
She’s seen me at my happiest, saddest and angriest in this country. She’s listened, shared and connected. Not only does she have this wonderfully awesome sharp, sarcastic wit to her, but she is so brutally honest to the point of recklessness at times — and it’s amazing. She’s an incredibly brilliant individual with one of the biggest hearts and caring souls I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with in my 25 years on this planet. I write this with a heavy heart, as she’s leaving Korea in less than 12 hours.
You see, Sydney and I go way back.
After accepting a position with my academy, I spent time researching everything I could regarding my neighborhood as well as the country itself. I found one of the best ways to go about this is by simply typing “blog” at the end of my search term. Low and behold, I stumbled upon Syd’s blog. For the better part of an hour, I read about her experiences and even watched a YouTube tour of her apartment (which sounds creepy — and it is — but totally something people do prior to moving here) before I moved on and kind of forgot about it.
Fast forward to a few months later:
I’m getting ready to leave work, and my two buddies Chuck and Nate ask if I want to get dinner with them and some of their friends from another hagwon in Suji. Seeing as I’d only been in Korea for less than a week at that point, I took them up on their offer. Shortly after our two groups joined, I noticed a familiar face in the crowd.
“Holy shit! That’s the girl from that one blog!” I thought.
After dinner, we decided to head to a local bar to properly send their friend Andrew off, as he’d just returned from a Thailand adventure and was flying home to Canada the next day. Once we got into the bar, I turned to Sydney and I said, “Not to sound creepy, but I read a lot of your blog before I came here.”
“Oh. Yeah. Everyone reads my blog.”
In that moment, I knew this girl and I were going to get along swimmingly. Her honesty is something that I’d hoped to find, and I’m so glad I did.
Her sincerity and overall loyalty is something that cannot be matched. She’s a tough nut to crack, but once it’s done, it’s truly a wonderful thing.
I knew upon moving here that a part of living an expat life is having to say goodbye to people sooner than later and more frequently than I would like to. People are always coming and going, which is why it’s somewhat difficult to find earnest, true and loyal friendships in this country. However, like I said, Sydney has all of those qualities, and is someone that I’ve shared countless unforgettable moments with over these short five months, and for that, I am incredibly thankful.
I will never forget the enriching conversations, the pointless conversations, the emotional conversations or the just plain normal conversations. I will never forget the fact that every single time I’m with her I end up laughing to the point of tears at some point. I will never forget the fact that despite being one of the most Type-A people I’ve ever met, she’s literally the only person I know in Korea who would agree to get on a plane with me to spend less than 48 hours in another country just for the hell of it. I will never forget her affinity for Korean men, Big Bang and this culture. I’ll never forget her sharp tongue, her wit, her kindness or her love. I will never forget watching classic Saturday Night Live clips in the backseats of our cabs. I will never forget trying new restaurants and loving or hating them. I will never forget the night she turned 25 and the events that transpired. I will never forget the weird tanning salon in Seoyeon. I will never forget being forced to sing karaoke in front of a room full of Filipino people in Japan and choosing Super Bass by Nicki Minaj and everyone hating us for it. I will never forget drinking our body weight in soju and texting each other the next day wondering why we do the things we do. I’ll never forget meeting each other outside of the library before we did anything and feeling like I was in some sort of K-Drama because there are so many teens. But most importantly, I will never forget the fact that everything I did with her felt like such a new and hilarious adventure. I’m assuming that’s because it generally was.
I’ve been truly blessed throughout my life with some of the greatest friendships and this one is going to be really hard to part with. While I know our paths will meet again, it doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye for now.
Thank you, and I love you more than I can put in words on some stupid blog. I’m excited to see the great things you’re going to experience and accomplish in the future.