Well, I’ve been here more than two weeks, and I will be leaving in less than two weeks. I have learned so much more than I would have at a study abroad program. At least, I think I have learned more than I would have from a traditional study abroad program. There are a few things that I have learned over the past two weeks that I wish I had known before coming to the other side of the world. Below are just a few things that I think the world would be interested in.
- Research is exhausting. Conducting interviews is absolutely exhausting. I had no idea that expecting to interview 15 people within a month was a ridiculous amount of people to interview. It now makes sense why people take YEARS to compile the data and information they need to write about what they’re going to write. Like, seriously… it is so tiring because of compassion fatigue and emotional labor that goes into everything. I’m happy to say that despite my initial fear that I would only have 3 interviews by the end of the month, I finished my 7th interview earlier today. In total, I have 10 returned adoptee interviews, which has been incredible. ALSO, because I am a masochist, I have decided to interview non-adoptee Americans here to gather their experiences living in Korea. So, hopefully, I’ll be able to leave with 20 interviews total. But, I would not recommend anyone to do what I did this month.
- I have not been able to do as many things as I originally thought I would be able to do. Because I’m so exhausted, I use the time to sleep and recover from the work that I have been doing. This is both good and bad. Good in respect that I know I will return to South Korea again and be a tourist. Bad in respect that I will have to wait a lot of years before I can return and be a tourist.
- Don’t pack a lot of things. ESPECIALLY if you can actually wash your clothing like I have been able to. Anything you think you may need, you can get here. Like… anything. Even things you didn’t think you needed! Honestly, it’s amazing.
- Loneliness has been hard. But, traveling by myself has opened up so many new and exciting relationships with the people that I have met. I’ve even been able to introduce my new friends to each other so that they make new friends! (Social networking at its finest. I guess I’ll be the center of a cluster very soon). That being said, it is hard to balance my relationships. I’m neither a true extrovert or a true introvert. It’s hard for me to tell when I’m pushing myself too much to be around people or if not interacting with people on a certain day will make me feel isolated. Despite this, this trip has made me a more self-reliant person in ways I never expected to be. I now know I can go to places back in the States by myself and probably be fine. I no longer feel like I need someone to be with me to do something, and that is a very freeing feeling.