Opportunity Costs

You can play this song while you read my blog. It will appropriately set the mood.

One of those big things that people struggle with while living abroad is what they’ll be missing out on while they’re not home. A big one currently is not having the holidays with family. Each person has a different experience of what that means – sadness, relief, a longing for home cooked meals. For me, I miss my family and my friends. I miss the food and the games, and catching up with cousins. My family traditions are probably different than yours. I miss the large pot of Burmese soup we have at our family gatherings – the endless food fest that is every family gathering we have. I miss the silly things my nephews and my niece will inevitably say. I’m truly thankful to say this is what home for the holidays mean to me.

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It’s ever so apparently during the holidays, but choosing to be in Korea for a year means I miss out on everything for the whole year. For me this means I’m missing the first weddings of my cousins on both sides of the family. It means I won’t be there when my friends want to talk to me about the struggles in their lives. I’ll miss out on board game gatherings and late night talks. I won’t be there for my family when both good and bad things happen. I’ll miss an entire year of my niblings’ childhoods (niblings is a real word, I swear). It may also mean that I’m not there when someone I know passes away. It is time I can’t get back.

Aside from my family and friends I’m missing there are other life milestones that I am putting off as well. Travelling abroad also makes it very difficult to have a long lasting romantic relationship when I move countries every once in a while. This means I’ll have one less year of an adult income, and depending on my future career one less year of experience. Perhaps these could be labelled “anxieties about the future.”

From what I’ve said it’s hard to see why I’d want this. But Christmas celebrations this year are ones I’ll remember forever. I had the awesome privilege of witnessing a service with the young adults in Korean first, then Chinese, then in English on Christmas Eve. Being able to look around the congregation on Christmas at Hannam Church and feel like I knew the people there. I could point out the Taekwondo instructor whose place we practice at, the Potter’s family who invited us when we arrived to make pottery, the people who help us with Sunday School, and the young adults who we played a scavenger hunt with. They’re no longer a group of strangers, but people who have extended their welcome to us and with whom we’ve shared warm memories. People we continue to make warm memories with.

I may not have my Burmese soup or my cousins to play with, but I’m not lacking here. While I wish I could split myself in two and do everything, I’m happy to be on this adventure. I wouldn’t be able to have a basic conversation in another language now, nor would I have learned how to play 3 cushion or Konggi. I’ve learned so much about the situation here in Korea as well. So much of my time in Korea has expanded my understanding of people and what shapes our histories and who we become.

For me this has been a big step in the right direction for what I want my life to look like and who I want to be. As for my anxieties about the future, I need patience and trust that things will go as they should – whatever that may mean. For now, while I’ll continue to miss those I love at home, I’m happy to be here making new memories and a new home I’ll miss when I’m away. For those who celebrate, I hope you have a Christmas to remember. Merry Christmas!

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As the year comes to end I find myself far short of my fundraising goals. Will you please help me reach my goals?

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