It’s June. On the eve of our departure to the States, I find myself in a whirlpool of emotions. This marks the end of our sixth year living overseas and in this time, I have learned that the end of the year for expats isn’t all hugs and high fives. It’s an emotional roller coaster with celebratory highs and sorrowful lows. We applaud our students, our colleagues, and ourselves on another completed year but we also lament the inevitable masses who move on from our community to seek adventure somewhere else.
I have very vivid memories of the last moments we had in the U.S. before we moved overseas for the first time. There were a lot of tears but Chris and I were excited. We were departing on an adventure and it was going to be life-changing. For the people we left behind, there wasn’t much exciting about it. Life for you continued as normal, just without us in it. It was the same way when we moved on to Korea from Taiwan. We were the ones who left.
Now, not only is this our sixth year overseas, this is also the longest time we have lived in one place as a married couple. As expats, this means that we have had enough time to settle in to a place, invest in relationships, and get left behind as those dear friends depart on their own new adventures. Like you were for us, we are so thrilled for them. We can’t wait to hear stories about their new lives and find out about how things have changed. But, as you well know, getting left behind sucks.
Nevertheless, we pack our bags and get ready to do it all again. We get geared up for seven weeks Stateside where we do our best to make up for lost time with friends, family, and Target. It will be a great time and many memories will be made. However, as it always does, August will come too soon and call us back to our lives in Korea. We will once again pack up and leave you behind. It will be hard on us but it will be so much harder on you. I always knew that on some level but in the wake of the many tearful goodbyes brought on by the end of the school year, I feel like I can commiserate with you a little better. We will be going; you will be staying. We have the choice, you don’t.
So, let me take this moment to apologize and also show my appreciation. I’m sorry that we keep leaving you behind. It is hard to be left. I also want to thank you for supporting our decision to live overseas and legitimately be excited for us as we live out our adventure so far away. I had to take a page from your handbook this year as we say goodbye to dear friends and I am grateful to you in more ways than one.
See you soon, America!