So it's official, I'm staying one more year in Korea. I don't think I've ever debated more over whether or not to stay in a place as I have done for this decision. I started debating way back in September and on at least 3 occasions was convinced that I'd be having my last day on 01 June 2014. The fates have intervened though, and I'm staying one more year. Why? Well for so many reasons;
- I like teaching.
- I have fantastic students (except for, you know, the troublesome few).
- My co-teachers are amazing.
- I have great friends, both Korean and Expat alike.
- I love my apartment, even with all the noise.
- I like being responsible for all my own decisions - from whether or not I just sit down and watch TV to paying bills. Whatever my decision, it's my choice and the negatives are just as much a learning experience as the positives.
- I like branching out and seeing more of Korea and the world.
- I like challenging myself to be better, to work harder, to write more, to read more, to go live more authentically and to make healthier choices.
- I want to finish my bucket list, as much as possible.
Nevertheless, staying in Korea means one more year away from home and some creature comforts. So what is it that I miss most about my beloved Ireland? Well, number one: my family. Chatting to my parents, playing board games with my siblings, walks, talks and everything else. Taking trips together. Screaming with excitment at a match, especially staying up late and watching the World Cup FinalExchanging gifts on Christmas Eve, doing so on Skype isn't half as fun! My brother's terrible stories on Christmas Eve. Easter Egg hunts, birthdays, laughter and fun. Fighting with everyone. Seeing my nephew and niece grow up. Getting to experience and partake in their lives.
Number two, are my friends. I really miss them. I miss being able to go to Butler's in the Pavilions for a quick cuppa on the way home. I miss having board game nights and eating at Indie Spice or Acapulco. I miss walking around HESC at lunch time or those quick chats during break time. I miss the long calls to friends who don't work with me any more, drinking wine, eating cake (and cake bakes!), travelling around Ireland and abroad. I miss just hanging out.
After that I guess everything I miss is related to Ireland itself - whether it's the food, an aspect of the culture or even the environment. To be honest, I can go a long time without a craving for anything, but sometimes, I will get one suddenly and instead of having a lovely King sandwich, I'll eat a packet of these:
Or I will find myself craving some time walking along the Howth cliff walk with a nice breeze and the smell of salty sea air with every inhale. On those days I go for a walk along the river near my house or to the lake park. They don't come close but they are nearby.
While I can't capture the spirit, culture or environment of Ireland, I can sometimes capture the food and drinks. I recently have spent quite a bit of time browsing online shops to see where they deliver and to get approximate costs. Sadly, a lot of them don't deliver to Korea or, if they do, the prices are prohibitive for me. So, I wait in hope...or for some kindly soul to take pity on me! Nevertheless, I've included some links below - so even if I can't enjoy the goodness of Irish food, perhaps you can.
- While I have loads of Barry's tea at the moment thanks to two trips home and a wonderful mother and aunt, I miss being able to just pop into a shop and buy a box of tea whenever I need it. I also won't say no to a cuppa Lyons. I was recently sent a box of Barry's tea by my Mam as she'd received a box of 600 teabags! It made me wonder if it had been ordered from here! Lucky Mam and lucky me! Along with tea, obviously I miss Avonmore milk. Seriously! It has taken me ages to make the perfect cup of tea here as the milk is really different.
- I miss all the cheap sweets and crisps from Meanies to Animal Bars. I found some websites recently that deliver to Korea called PennyJellies and Irish Home Comforts, so I want to figure out a way to order these treats from there for my students. Who knows, maybe for a Hallowe'en lesson?
- I miss Cheese and Onion crisps and Salt and Vinegar Crisps. Especially crisp butties! For those wondering, I'm a wee bit more partial to King but I love my Tayto as well.
- I miss Kingfisher chips, and just being able to go to any chippers. Oh, and homemade chips made in the deep fat fryer on a Friday night, wrapped in delicious bread, smothered in butter. HEAVEN!
- While Korea has certainly improved on the cheese front as you can get a decent range of cheese from cheddar to goat's cheese in Costco, the Foreign Food Market and even, at times, in Homeplus, there is something to be said for Irish Cheese. I miss Kilmeaden, Cashel Blue and going to markets like the ones in Galway or Howth and buying homemade cheese. This hamper, while it won't deliver to me, could be bought and brought to me? Any takers? Come on...you know you want to visit me (and Korea!)!
- I miss everyone saying "thank you" when they got off the bus, even if the journey has been long, annoying and uncomfortable. I also really miss saying "excuse me" whenever the chance comes along.
- I miss Griffith Park. I miss having such close access to green. While our garden at home is the size of a postage stamp we were always really lucky to live 10 seconds away from an amazing park. It's big, really green and has a river running through it. I miss having picnics just inside the gate or up on the hill. I miss playing football or rounders (even though it's been years since I played), flying kites or just walking around the park. I miss having a place you can go to get out of your head and just enjoy nature.
- Oh, and how I miss the National Botanical Gardens! Seriously, I live in such a great neighbourhood. I am only 5 minutes away from a beautiful garden with amazing trees, gorgeous flowers, impressive glasshouses and quiet walks. There is something so peaceful about being in there.
- I miss the libraries. Again, I live in a great neighbourhood and I was a stone's throw from Drumcondra, Ballymun, Phibsborough and the Ilac Centre Libraries. The amount of books I would consume if I were at home! From Austen to Christie. From Tintin to Nancy Drew. I've never been at a loss for a good book at home.
- I miss going on day trips around Dublin and further afield. Whether it is Howth in the rain, or walking barefoot down the river in Enniskerry forest, praying that nothing slithers or runs over foot. I didn't take near enough advantage of it when I was home, and now...now I can't. I miss being able to go to water - the sea, especially.
- I miss being able to fly nearly anywhere in the world with a cheap airline (and yes, I do try to avoid Ryanair). Weekend trips and long weekends away are harder to do here - I've managed one so far, to Japan.
So you might think I'm mad to be missing Irish food as much as I do and you might think I'm mad to miss greenery and sea air especially since we have some in Korea. But, that's one of the advantages of being Irish. You're never far from it. Sadly, though it's not as easy to get to either for me as it was at home...well except for the local mountain. That's kind of cool...and green.
PS The title of this post was inspired by the John A Lomax version of "Home on the Range".