You read that right. :(
We are world travelers, so we were so excited to launch new travel opportunities in a new corner of the world. But when we arrived, it was just meh. Coming from Egypt, with its rich culture, hilarious hijinks, and charming people, Korea just felt like a big vanilla ice cream. The first couple bites are okay, but then you wonder why you didn't just order rocky road.
I went out and explored. I rode the subway, checked out the hot new neighborhoods, ate a bunch of kimchi, and nothing seemed to pull me out of my funk. I was mourning the loss of Cairo. And it was rocking my boat. One evening, when my husband was driving me and the kids, he put on a song we heard constantly in Cairo. Without time to even feel sadness, my eyes flooded with tears and found myself sobbing in the car. I looked over to see my husband's eyes welled up with tears also. Our hearts were still in Egypt and it was wrenching. We held hands hard and shared a true sadness at the loss of a time we cannot recreate.
I had just come off a very exciting roller coaster, and suddenly I felt the jerk of coming back to the station. It was exciting looking back, and a bit of a letdown looking forward.
None of this has anything to do with Korea. I have since come to really enjoy it here, and have found some fun shopping places and restaurants I love. We've been to the zoo, gone to street food fairs, and explored quite a bit.
What I found was that a general malaise is part of International living. What a bummer! It's very typical, when leaving a place you truly loved, that you have a difficult time integrating into a new culture. My friends who left Egypt for California found the same malaise. Leaving lively technicolor Egypt felt like Dorothy going back to Kansas. Everything seemed brown and gray and dull.
I had heard rumors of these strong emotions, but couldn't imagine them penetrating my lifelong happy-go-lucky attitude. So, instead I was completely thrown by my sadness. I could barely get off the couch! I had no desire to cook dinner, do laundry, or even leave the house.
Finally, after months of this difficulty, I started reaching out to fellow expats and asking for advice and help. Suddenly, I wasn't alone! Everyone assured me that I was totally normal. That was all it took to snap me out of my funk. You learn a lot through adversity and I hope this last six months makes our next transition easier.
I'm sorry I disappeared on you. It was a dark time for me and I didn't want to share that. Now, I regret the decision to hide, as I could have potentially helped someone else in the same place. The good news is, there is absolutely light at the end of the tunnel! For me, the path to light was focusing on my daily duties, setting up my house, keeping up with laundry, adhering to the daily routine of school and work, getting the kids to their after-school activities, snuggling them before bedtime.
It's still a struggle, and I'm not sure any place we live will ever come close to our time in Cairo, but I'm functional now. And, we are still in Asia! There is potential for travel, amazing food, and great shopping. Even now, we are finally planning our first vacation here! I still cherish my memories of Egypt, and the incredible friends that we made there, but now I have hope that there is life ahead.