Picture this: you’ve just arrived to your new home clear across the world and your luggage is nowhere to be found.
Today marked the 7 month mark of living here in South Korea. Seven months ago I said adiós to the country I had never been apart from for more than several hours. Accompanying the experience of a new country was the experience of losing my luggage that contained my livelihood.
It wasn’t until I arrived to Gumi, the city I would call home for the next year (at least), that I became severely homesick, and for good reason. We had been in a different city for our orientation for about 10 days prior to reaching Gumi. There wasn’t any time or room to feel the sickness of being without my family, friends and everything comforting and familiar. We were constantly busy; surrounded by fellow waygooks (foreigners), which meant English was always in the the air.
However, conditions were ideal for yearning to be back in California once in our new city. We had arrived without our luggage, which translated into becoming passport-less, money-less, and clothing-less. We had one change of winter clothes and $580 in our possession. However, our apartment demanded $500 to turn on the gas and electricity; no we were down to $80 with no promise of finding our missing luggage. As if losing our life-box wasn’t lousy enough, we were also bombarded with Hangul (Korean) and couldn’t read anything. Oh, and it was raining!
A sense of depression was at work during those first few days in Gumi. Having a lost luggage didn’t make adjusting to this new life any easier. It was then that I really began to miss home. I had brought Home Alone 2 with us and found myself watching that several times throughout each day. The countless times watching it back home gave me a sliver of familiarity to cling to here in this foreign land. I realized how much I took for granted back home and how desperately I wished I was back.
Eventually our luggage returned to us and we got on with life. Depression quickly (almost instantaneously) became excitement, and I began to develop a love for Korea. I’m grateful for the experience. It made our arrival story worth telling, but it also reminded me to not take those things that make life worth living for granted.