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June 24, 2008 Author: Beth Salerno

Baegundae Stairs at BukhansanTod and I arrived back home in New Hampshire in the wee hours of June 23.  Turbulence over the pacific and thunderstorms over New England made for rough flights and various delays.  But we, and now our luggage, are safe at home, and we are re-adapting to life together in the USA.

As I expected, “culture shock” has me quite off-balance.  At the airport in Chicago, I automatically used Korean for the basic daily phrases like “Excuse me” and “Thank you”.  I also used the hand gestures that are standard politeness in Korea.  I was surprised how automatic these had become.  Also, many small things simply feel “wrong”.  Spoons are too short and narrow; in Korea there are only soup spoons and they have quite long handles.  Bathrooms sinks are too high; I had gotten used to them being just above my knees.  Today I drove a car for the first time in 10 months.  I found I was far more apprehensive than I expected.  All of these will pass.

View from BaegundaeSince I am home and safe, I will post only one more blog entry after this.  Thank you to all of you who have read these postings regularly or on occasion. Special thanks to those of you who sent thoughts and encouragement during my time away.  I have really appreciated having this space where I could process my experiences, share them with others, and feel part of a community of enthusiastic supporters.

Here is one short story from my last week in Korea.  Eight days before I left, Tod and I climbed Baegundae Peak on Mount Bukhansan.  I had climbed everything EXCEPT the peak in early October (see blog entry titled “Lessons Learned in Bukhansan National Park”).  The peak was too much for me - you pulled yourself up on steel cables, with nothing between you and the ground except a stunning view.  I had been, and still am, proud that I managed to get to the mountain and find the peak, with minimal Korean and no map, only one month after I arrived; that I could not climb the peak was not a big deal.  But this time, with Tod along to encourage and cajole me, I had the courage to actually scale the peak.  The view was spectacular and the sense of accomplishment was even better. 

As always, life is easier and better with help along the way. 

Entry Filed under: living abroad, Tod's visit, Outdoors

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