Sunday, January 16, 2011

Decisions, decisions

I want to preface this post by apologizing for its lack of organization as I have about five hundred thoughts running through my head. That's what happens when you make a life-changing decision, although it's not yet entirely made.

The decision? To go back to Korea this summer. At first it was just a little thought that casually drifted into my head and back out again. But then it came back again. And again. I don't know when I drank a glass of carpe diem, but here I am now and I want to--no--need to do this! In May I will graduate with my master's degree. I will then be expected to take my professional licensing exam and gain full-time employment. And then I will be a newbie with no vacation time accrued to even consider traveling..well..anywhere. No. This is not an excuse to defer my enrollment into the adult world. This is a chance to live out my life as an adoptee, to wrap myself in a culture which I never really had, yet somehow miss. Man, I really just need to do this. I haven't put any deposits down or anything, but internally I am already fully committed to this idea.

Unfortunately, it's already mid-January and I need to get my act together. I've been stressing myself out combing through the options, trying to decide what on earth I'm going to do. There are many different ways back. I'm incredibly torn. My first trip back was with a tour. While I was satisfied with that experience, I had hoped that I could do it differently this time. The problem is that I don't know enough Korean to feel safe getting around. My plan is to travel alone. No one else in my life has the interest/time/financial means to go with me, but I'm okay with that. At present, I'm considering trying to get a spot on an adult adoptee tour. My life is hectic enough right now as I have committed to mentoring international students this semester aside from taking my full course load, interning and of course making time for my friends. Realistically, I will not be able to learn enough Korean language and culture to feel confident going solo this summer. A place like KoRoot seems like an excellent option, but I am admittedly scared to take that kind of plunge.

Right now, I see three possible options for going back: a tour, independent travel or school. The tour seems like the safest possibility for me right now and the most realistic. At least an adult adoptee tour, I would be with peers and we could participate in activities that family groups wouldn't necessarily get into (ie noraebang, soju..haha). I wish I were more versed to travel independently. I really do. And while the idea of studying at a university for a semester sounds like a dream, the pressure to get a job is always there..the expectations from others. Maybe part of being an adoptee is sacrifice. I feel like I can't have it all. There is no way to have one foot planted firmly in Korea and one in the United States. In sum...I am frustrated. If anyone reading this has any experience/thoughts on travel possibilities, please contact me either through leaving a comment or email! My head is spinning a little.


  1. There may be a way to do it on your own... When we traveled to Seoul last winter to adopt our daughter, we were on our own. Through discussion boards we met a couple who are there teaching English. They were more than happy to help us tour Seoul. Maybe you can get on some boards and find extremely nice people like that in a few cities to help you. Just a thought.

    Hope the trip is great!

  2. Thanks for the tip, Craig! I'm currently trying to network with a few different places and people while I continue to explore the options. So much to think about!

  3. Yes. Go! So much to learn, and you are will likely not have a chunk of time again once you begin working. This is THE perfect time to do it!

    As for traveling independently vs. tours...I've never been a fan of tours. They are cumbersome and seem to get in your way of actually understanding a culture. The tours are done from the perspective of the outsider, so if what you are searching for is more of an inside perspective, you might be disappointed. I've traveled through countries where I spoke the language, as well as those I did not understand a thing. While it was harder to make a connection with people when I did not understand the language, I still felt like I learned a lot and was able to meet people who shared their world with me.

    Quite a few adoptee groups have Facebook pages. Perhaps you could network with others who have done the same thing? Here's a site with quite a few adoptee organizations where you might be able to connect:


  4. Hi, I am an adoptive mom and I love your blog.. You are amazing at putting your thoughts and feelings into words!

    I know that for you this trip to Korea not a normal vacation trip. It is SO much more than just being a tourist in a foreign country. But I am so glad that you are going! It's the perfect time before you start your career.

    Personally, I have travelled to a couple of countries by myself where I did not speak the language, and I have always met fellow travelers on the way, so I wasn't necessarily by myself, but I also wasn't bound to anyone else. Some of those adoptee organizations sound great!

    We were in Seoul last April and I found it very easy to get around even when you don't speak the language. I would definitely feel comfortable going there by myself.

    I am really looking forward to following your journey. I hope you will share it with us.

  5. Hi Sandra and Pix! Thank you so much for the encouragement. The process is unexpectedly stressful, so all the kind words truly help. Although I have not yet committed to anything, I think I'm getting more of an idea what I will do and I will definitely keep track of my journey on the blog!