Guess where I went last week? California!
The decision to go happened really fast. As you may or may not know, my grandma recently passed away from multiple myeloma. Well, my dad wanted me to attend the funeral so badly, he was willing to pay for the $1200 plane ticket I needed to get home in time to do so, and since I still had time off from work, the notion was feasible. So two days after my grandma passed, I booked a round trip ticket to arrive in Sacramento on Monday, January 30th and go back to Korea on Sunday, February 5th.
Even though I was extremely excited about visiting home, I kept it a secret from my friends because the purpose of my super short visit was to spend time with my family. I did tell Chris I would be coming home because it’s kind of hard to keep a secret like that from my best friend and the person I Skype with every day. I really wish I could have seen at least a few of my good friends during my visit, but I didn’t want to have to pick and choose whom I saw, nor upset my dad by blowing off his $1200 family time.
As for my visit, it was exactly how I had predicted it would be: awesome, not-so-awesome, and surreal.
The Awesome: First of all, the weather is 30-40 degrees warmer in Sacramento right now than it is in Korea; not once did I wear my pea coat, gloves, super thick tights, or earmuffs! Second, I ate amazing food I haven’t been able to eat in ten months: I ate real, authentic Mexican food; I ate real, authentic sushi; I ate an avocado cheeseburger complete with seasoned curly fries; I ate mac and cheese with bacon and brussel sprouts; I ate pita chips with hummus; and I drank good red wine. Third, I went to Target; seriously, all I bought was a loofah and some eyeliner but I was still so giddy and excited to just be in a Target again. Fourth, I spent a lot of quality time with my family and Chris which, of course, made my whole trip.
The Not-So-Awesome: My grandmother’s funeral. It had been so long since I had even been to an actual funeral, I had forgotten all of the negative emotions that one could bring. There was a final viewing of my grandmother’s dead body. There was a Catholic mass. There was a burial. And there was a reception. I managed to keep it together until after the mass, but I couldn’t help but cry when I saw my dad, a grown man, cry over the death of his mother– a pain I felt only two years ago. Despite the unfortunate circumstances of my visit, I’m glad my grandma isn’t suffering anymore, and I’m glad I got to get the closure I needed by saying goodbye at her funeral.
The Surreal: The first couple of days felt like I was in a dream. I mean, I was HOME! After ten months of living in a foreign country, I was home. But in a way, it didn’t feel like home anymore. It felt like I was visiting a place that used to be home, because Korea’s been my home for almost a year. In addition to the dream-like state I felt during the first two days, I felt a lot of reverse culture shock. I’m not going to go into too much detail because I want to blog about it after I move back for good, but some of the shocks I experienced were: noticing how mildly/severely obese and sloppy many Americans are, being overwhelmed by the huge food portions, being able to understand what everyone around me was saying, etc.
Overall, I love that I got to go home, even if it was only for a few days: I got to see my family, I got to see Chris, I got to eat amazing food, and I got to see my grandma one last time before she was gone for good. However, going home made it really hard to go back to Korea; in fact, I cried last night while I was riding the bus home from the airport. Less than two months here is all I have left, but now that I’ve gotten a little reminder– a little taste of how great my real home is, I’m even more anxious and excited to move back for good.