Five years

>It was never meant to be this long. I had only intended to go teach in Korea for one year and come home.

But one year was so fun it turned into two. But part way through the second year, I realised that it was wearing thin for me and I wasn’t keen to stay for a third year. The big question for me is: Why didn’t I go home at that point?

I get asked “Why Korea?” a lot. And “Why London?” a lot. But only a few people have asked why I didn’t go home at the end of the second year. I think other than my moms, I am the only other person who really questions that.

Let’s start with “Why Korea?”. It was more the case of “Why NOT Korea?”. I didn’t really mean to go to Korea… I just meant to leave Canada and there Korea was, providing and easy out. Someone else sorted my paperwork, flights, job and accommodations. My new life prepackaged. I just had to show up.

So that’s “Why Korea?” answered. Easy breezy lemon squeezy. Now, “Why London?”…. that’s not nearly as easy to answer. Difficult difficult lemon difficult.

As I said, I knew I didn’t want to stay in Korea beyond my second year. But I wasn’t feeling the go-home feeling either. So I started looking at other options.

At first, things weren’t looking so good. I may be educated and good at what I do, but I definitely do not classify as a “skilled worker”. I was also past the magic “holiday makers” visa age already. I had already decided that if I was leaving Korea, I was leaving Asia, so teaching in another country around there wasn’t really an option.

That’s when I discovered that my dad’s mom was actually born in Scotland, not Saskatchewan as I had always thought. Suddenly, I was eligible for a five-year ancestry visa in the UK. So I applied for that and started scheming.

My schemes had nothing to do with what life would be like in the UK. I was too busy thinking about how I was going to get here (the blog entries regarding the Epic Train Journey of Epicness haven’t moved to this blog yet – as soon as I get that done I’ll link) and not so much what I would do when I got here. Because I honestly had no clue. I didn’t even have it in my head yet which city I was going to live in, or what I would do for a job, or anything, really. No freaking clue.

So… that’s “Why the UK?” answered, I suppose; but not so much “Why London?”.

I suppose I chose London because it felt right. I also really like Belfast and Glasgow, but I was pulled here. And I’m (most days) happy that I was. I’ve met amazing people, have had great experiences and I’ve been able to live in one of the greatest cities on the planet. As your man (Samuel Johnson) said: “Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” I ain’t tired of it yet.

I’ve got just over two years left on my visa, and that means I have a decision to make fairly soon. I get the feeling that I’ll stay in London for the remainder of that time… although I’m aware that, as the consummate opportunist, I’ll move if compelled to move.

After that? Who knows. Depending on how life is in the autumn of 2012, I’ve been thinking of another year teaching in Asia (I did miss seeing Japan, after all) and then re-applying for another visa and returning to the UK. If I do that, I doubt I’ll come back to London though. It may be Ireland or Scotland that has to learn to love me upon my return.

What I can’t imagine right now is going back home at that time.

I left Canada because I was miserable. No need to go into detail. I wasn’t happy. So I left. I needed to change, so I changed… everything. Flair for the dramatic, me.

Am I happier now? Well, hard to say. Things aren’t great right now, to be honest. But I feel more in control of it. I’m a different person in a million different little ways now, so I guess I feel differently about the situation that I’m in. I guess I know now that if I want to, I can make a huge change and survive. Fuck. Survive? More than that. I can rip that shit up and roll with whatever the changes bring – good or bad. And knowing that you can handle it is a powerful thing.

And although I am not perfectly content here and I need to work on some changes (and I AM working on some changes); I know that being back home wouldn’t make any of it better. It’s the only thing I’m certain about.

Besides, a wise woman once told me that it is never worth taking a step if it is taking a step back. So I don’t plan on moving backwards at this point; I’m going to keep looking forward and stare down my future.

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