My last day with “Wildflower”
When people ask me if I miss Korea I tell them “Yes,” but it’s not just the country that I miss but the friends that I made there…but I miss this one like a sister.
I was in the student copy room when she bashfully tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Hi.” It looked like she was in a hurry when she asked me for my email address but now that I think about it, she was probably really nervous to speak English :) I tapped my email address in her iPhone, she smiled and said, “OK, I’ll see you later” and rushed out the copy room. That was it. That was my brief introduction to Lee Jayeon. Little did I know of the dynamic personality that was hiding behind such shyness because let me tell you…this girl is not shy!
Having some fun during lunch at my favorite coffee shop, The Chocolate.
Jayeon was one of my classmates from my Global Communications class. I received a friend request from her on Facebook a few days later. Only I couldn’t tell that it was her from her profile pic (she always thinks her pictures don’t look like her), maybe she’s right. Her profile pic was literally a profile shot with her looking all solemn. So it was surprising to see what a ball of energy and laughter she is. She’s got a great sense of humor and we laugh ALL the time. She’s a delicate little thing with a the kind of personality that makes a person feel very comfortable. I’m still so surprised how quickly she embraced me and she’s been a blessing.
Even though I’m older than her she’s really been like the unni (big sister). When I wanted to go shopping she took the time to take me, even when the weather was crummy. When I needed to get a cell phone she helped me and even took it back to the shop when we found out the ringer was broken! When I wanted to go to Cheongsando she helped me find a place to stay and called like 10 places and even made the reservation for me.
Jayeon, her sweet Mother, Sundol and me.
She even invited me to her home to stay after the semester was over to meet her mom and dad. Her mother was so precious and I can see where Jayeon gets her sense of humor, her mother is so cute and funny. And I got the chance to eat homemade Korean food made with love by her mom and it was delicious! Honestly, the only Korean food I want to eat is hers. I hope to share a meal with them again soon. I missed out meeting her younger sister in person but she’s just as delightful on a video chat.
One of my favorite moments with Jayeon is when we were on a bus to downtown to hang out. It was Spring so I asked her about her favorite flower which she confessed to be wildflowers. After taking a second to think about it that flower matches her perfectly. The flower is just like her—tiny and wild! She bursts into laughter, shocked yet tickled by my assessment and she laughed because she knew it was true. But now thanks to my experience with Jayeon, wildflowers never looked more colorful and charming.
Jayeon, I miss you so much and if it wasn’t for KakaoTalk and FaceTime I’d miss you a lot more.
Looking forward to catching up soon,
"So when are you gonna post on your blog? I wanna know what it’s like for you now that you’re back!" This is the third time Lizzy got on me for dropping the ball and honestly, I’m glad she did. I have so many memories and pictures left untold and unseen. Not necessarily for the unknown netizen to see but…for me. I am fully aware that I’ve always had a fading memory. I can barely remember what I did for my birthday last year. I need documentation. So by blogging, I do myself a favor. My time in Korea was very special and I want to be able to recall with clarity the amazing people and moments I experienced. I don’t want my memories to be incomplete. Now that I’ve been back, thinking about my time in Korea almost seems like a dream but looking through my catalog of photos and thinking of stories that accompany them…I remember that it was incredibly real.
Putting on my shoes for a slow stroll down Memory Lane,
Even though you almost made me have a heart attack. I must say you look beautiful! Can’t wait for the real thing!!!!
Thanks for such great memories, sister!! I’m gonna miss my 친구 ^.^
Looking at my tiny friend, Lizzy, sleeping on her bed after a energetic days work at her kinder school here in Mokpo. I got the joy of seeing her teach her tiny Korean students today. She’s a great teacher. She’s everything a little kid would dream about. To this day my favorite teacher is my kinder teacher, Mrs. Counts. I think she definitely has what it takes to be a Mrs. Counts, giving kids fond memories of the pretty “dark teacher” that taught them English.
It was nothing short of a special blessing to be here in Korea at the same time with her. Her familiar smile and laugh truly helped me from getting too homesick. The weekends we spent together, the places we traveled, the experiences we shared (we’re officially ‘sisters’ wink, wink) have been priceless and will be cherished to the end. We’ve had so much fun that I nearly forgot that I wouldn’t be staying here for a year like my friend. I actually have to leave…in 6 days to be exact.
Before my departure I made my way with Lizzy to her city of Mokpo, finally for the first time. She’s always come to visit me in Daejeon since Calvary Chapel was there. So it felt nice to actually go home with her. Hanging out in her cute little apartment has been beyond pleasant. Her hospitality is varsity and I’m so humbled and grateful to have such a great friend like her. Spending a few days with her before I leave has turned out to be more precious than I could imagine. So far, I’ve seen her volunteer at the orphanage, seen the cool sights of her harbor city at night, seen her faithfully Skype with her mom when she comes home for lunch, and stayed up til 2am watching Korean dramas while eating peanut butter-covered Oreos (my new guilty pleasure, thanks Lizzy!!!!).
I’ve personally got to see this little woman do her thing in Korea, trusting in the Lord every moment and it’s nothing short of inspiring.
Lizzy, I truly wish we could continue to stay in Korea together but God has other plans for us. In any case, it doesn’t change my gratitude and appreciation for you. You’re a beautiful friend and I thank you for being such a comfort to me. I know with God’s guidance you’ll continue to do great in Korea. When I return to Cali I’ll be another friend anxiously waiting for you to come home. Until then, you can add me to your Skype Date list!
Love you sister and may the Lord continue to blow your mind with His many blessings for you in this new place.
Can’t wait to see you when I get home,
I got some news today that sort of threw me off and got me feeling kind of sad. You know, the kind of sad that gets you feeling like you really need something bad to eat. My bad treat of choice would normally be Roscoe’s or maybe a Cinnabon, but that’s if I was in the U.S. Since I’m not I had to improvise. I was pretty emotionally drained and starving and I hadn’t eaten dinner. I went down to the cafeteria hoping that it would be something awesome…but it wasn’t. It was actually pretty bad. Well, I wasn’t trying to make myself feel worse so I skipped the cafeteria and decided that pizza might do the job. When I went to order I realized I had left my wallet in the dorm so I told the clerk I’d be back (using hand gestures, of course). After getting my wallet I took an impromptu long walk around the campus. I already had my headphones so it just felt appropriate at the time. After my stroll I walk back to the pizza shop ready to order and the owner, a small, busy little woman, looked at me and began to say stuff to the clerk. Completely lost at what’s going on I’m waiting for them to tell me that their closed or out of pizza, or something, but instead he presents to me a little pizza box with 2 slices inside and tells me one word…”Service.”
Interesting Fact: Many shops and restaurants in Korea have a thing called “service” where you get something for free for either dining or shopping at their establishment. You could get something from free soda, fruit, gum and even extra cosmetics.
I was surprised because technically I hadn’t bought anything. Standing at the counter confused the owner walks up to me with a smile and says, “Service. No pay.” I couldn’t believe it, it was so sweet. I give her a humble "감사합니다" (thank you) as she mentions a few other things in Korean that I couldn’t quite catch and smiles at me as she goes back to her work.
As I left I said thank you once more and she returned once again with a sweet smile. I’m not sure why she gave me service, maybe it was my sad face that prompted her kindness, maybe they were closing and had a few slices left. But I know the Lord must have seen how sad I was and wanted to cheer me up with a little something. Thanks for treating me to dinner, Lord, and please bless that precious woman you used to do it.
Feeling a little better now,
P.S. Korea gets another 10 points.
So I’ve been in Daejeon for about 3 months now and for those of you who’ve read my blog know that the ‘African American female’ is scarce in these parts. It’s still confirmed that I’m the only black female on my campus and knowing that gets me feelin’ a little solo at times. But Daejeon’s the 5th largest city (that’s not a boast) in South Korea…I know there’s gotta be more of ‘me’ out there somewhere. Well, so far those spectacular sightings have been few but nothing really close to home.
I’ve been riding my city’s subway for the last 2 months and I have NEVER seen another black person, let alone black female on the subway but today….oh, boy!! So I hop on, ears hooked up to my iPod. I thumb through my calendar and when I finally look up, there SHE is! My kin, my sister, another black female!! I couldn’t tell if she was African or African American (but it doesn’t even matter) but when I heard the way homegirl was poppin’ that gum she was chewing, I figured she had to come from the U.S.
So, I ponder for like 30 seconds whether I should bother her or not. I chose to bother. I walk across the tube to introduce myself and she gave me the biggest smile and said something like, “I noticed you when you came in but when you didn’t say anything I was like ‘Oh, she don’t talk.’” She told me that she thinks she’s seen me before somewhere else because she recognized my hair and thought I’d be a cool person to hang out with. Turns out my subway sista is friends with 2 other girls and she mentioned their names like I knew them already. I completely understood her tone…and I appreciated it. While we exchanged information she told me that she taught English for a year before in Daejeon but now is back in the states and came back to visit her friend for a few weeks. She’ll be leaving on Sunday so she invited me to meet her friends and get connected before she leaves. I arrived at my stop and before I hop off she tells me I have a beautiful skin tone. I can’t tell you how nice it was to hear that.