Leaving home can be a daunting prospect, especially when your final destination is almost as far away as you can get without being on the way back home again. There are hundreds of things you think to pack and bring, and things you know you’re gonna miss but can’t pack. But there are also things from home, the ephemera and trivial, that you miss just as much as they are as much “home” as the people.
The first, and probably most startlingly obvious, cause for homesickness is: the language. I cannot possibly explain quite what it is I miss here, perhaps just the familiarity of hearing a curious meld of Irish and English almost any time anyone opens their mouth. I even miss throwing in the cúpla focail (few words) This coming from me, who wouldn’t be classed as a Gaelgóir by any stretch of the imagination. Yet somehow, I do miss everything about hearing it and seeing road signs written in Irish and English.
This brings me to the next item on the ‘Things I Miss’ list: being able to read effortlessly. I have my kindle and some books for leisure reading, but when it comes to getting somewhere following signs, or figuring out what’s on sale in the supermarkets, I am prone to spending more than five minutes trying to decipher- first the 1+1 sign and then matching it to the intended product. Usually only to find that I do not in fact need two kilo bags of dried sardines. After all the stress of the shopping experience it’s time for a coffee in the nearest coffee shop.
What a convenient segue! For the next thing I miss is chilling out in a café with some friends and about 7 cups of tea. They do have tea here, it’s not like I’ve moved to the moon, but it’s just not the same as a cuppa in my favorite coffee shop while discussing what happened last week at the silent disco in the Roisín Dubh.
Finally, the largest of the small things I miss is wandering around Galway city with no fixed plan or idea. Stopping in my favorite shops to chat to the cashiers while buying yet another Lego Minifigure (of which I have altogether too many already!), followed by lunch in one of my usual haunts. Who’d have expected to miss goujons and chips quite so much?
However, I know that these things only hold their magic so long as I am away, and the minute I leave Korea and return home, this imaginary Ireland I’ve created will be gone. Fractured into pieces and spread out over many days, punctuated by working a job I don’t like that pays just a little too little to fund the lifestyle I write about. In the end, I content myself with these thoughts and the ‘Expat-in-Korea’ life, following my boss’s mantra “Everyday enjoy your life!!”