Land of Six Seasons

   It is raining a lot here. Since the other night it has been raining almost non stop. I love rain. The sound that lulls me to sleep, the reflections that make ugly black roads look like rivers of color, the smell that wafts in through an open window. For some it is a time of melancholy but I can't really agree with that.

   It is also getting warmer. It is still cold, and with rain on top of that it feels even colder. Nevertheless it is slowly warming up. All signs seem to point towards spring at long last. I welcome spring without reservation but the fact that it is getting warmer has me a little on edge. True, I don't exactly like the cold much either but... well let me explain.

   I was talking with my mom some days ago and I grudgingly dubbed Korea as "The Land of Six Seasons." See, Korea has spring just like any other part of the world. Rain here and there, mild weather, blossoming plants, and so on. It also has summer just like any other place does... for a while anyway. That seems to give way to what I like to call, "Satan has just left hell to melt your face off" summer. Summer in full bloom in this country is no joke. That too fades away slowly, too slowly, into fall. Fall with it's many colors and steadily dropping temperatures. Steadily they drop until you are now upon winter. However, unlike other countries Korea does not just stop at winter. Oh no, instead Korea seems to want to compete for the title of "Coldest Place on Earth." The contest gets so intense that it enters into a completely new season. This new tier of winter is so cold that you will be walking to work and see snowmen huddled around a fire, each of them talking about how they should probably get inside because they can't afford another sick day at work...

So I have dubbed Korea the Land of Six Seasons.

   I have only been in this country for six months but I feel I have experienced a lot. I have read, and heard, a lot of my peers' thoughts on their experience thus far in Korea, and I think the overwhelming consensus is that this time has been a time of personal growth for them. I think I can agree with that. For some this was the first time away from Mom and Dad, or the first time they had to cook for themselves, or pay their own bills. For me that was not the case but personal growth has been a thing all the same.

   That is true for anything really. All of our experiences inevitably lead to growth in some way. But I have started to look at the paths of some of my peers from my past and found that not only have our lives taken different directions, but as of right now at least, they are not even anywhere close. Those who were closest to me couldn't be further away and that has nothing to do with physical distance.

   For where I grew up, that is really saying something. In my hometown it is not uncommon for generation upon generation to stay stuck in that same dusty, boring town. For some they stay by choice but others not so much. So many people from there aspire to stay there doing the same things as their fathers and their fathers before them never breaking the cycle. There is nothing wrong with that per se. For some that is enough in life but for me it never has been.

   I am a foreigner in this country and am constantly reminded of that. Sometimes in subtle ways, other times in more blatant ways. When I look back at my hometown, and all the people in it, I feel like I would be just as much a foreigner there too. The experiences I have had, not only since I moved from there, but also since coming to Korea, are experiences that are just absolutely unrelatable, foreign, to what is going on back in my hometown. I don't understand it, I couldn't imagine a life of cyclical redundancy (10 points if you get that without using Google) the likes of which I felt were guaranteed by staying in my hometown. I don't pretend that my life is any better than that of my peers who stayed after high school, but we are not anything alike any longer. Not even close.

   But now I am a foreigner twofold. I think the word "foreigner" gets a negative connotation attached to it but I don't feel that way. True, there are some inherently negative aspects that come with the label, but I see those more as opportunities for adventure. So I am a foreigner both by definition and by ambiguity if you will. Yet here I stand feeling all the more fulfilled because of it. For me personal growth certainly has come from this. I have grown in so many ways and that has put a lot of distance between who I was and who I am.