At the end of February 2017, it was time to leave Korea and embark on a new adventure. I finished up my 2.5 year EPIK English teaching contract in Daegu, South Korea and made plans to stay with my parents at their new home – Bradenton, Florida USA! Leaving Korea was never going to be easy, but the transition was much smoother than I anticipated.
The few weeks (errrrr, months) prior to me leaving Korea were a bit surreal. I had accumulated a full apartment’s-worth of household goods that I needed to sort through, a sizable to-do list, and a number of people (and restaurants) I wanted to see one or two last times.
I managed to sell almost ALL of my goods via the local Flea Market/Facebook page and to some of my friends. *Tip: If you have stuff to sell – START EARLY – especially in Korea. A lot of the public school teachers leave around the same time. If you expect to be able to sell your stuff, do not try to get rid of it a week before you go – especially if you’d like to get a decent price.
I also managed to see almost everyone I wanted to and visited all my favorite restaurants. The relationships I made during my time in Korea were challenging, rewarding, and absolutely unforgettable. I was honored to meet and work with such a diverse group of people.
Traveling to Florida – a 28hr trek
My trip from Daegu, South Korea to Bradenton, Florida was going to be long, very very long. It was, however, made much easier with the help of some friends, some great flight staff, and some comfy seats! I set off from my apartment in Daegu at 10:30am KST on February 25th (8:30pm EST 2/24) and headed to the local bus terminal. I have a very bad back, and was eternally grateful to Kyle and John for their assistance with my luggage. After boarding the bus, I set off on my 4+hr journey to Seoul Incheon Airport via limousine bus. The limo buses in Korea are fantastic – well priced, comfortable, and they make a pit stop 1/2 way for a restroom break.
I arrived at the airport 2.5hr before my flight and had time to grab a shower and relax in the Korean Air lounge before boarding. If you are not flying business class, there are public showers available for you to use in the International Terminal. I always try to take a shower right before a 10+hr flight, as it calms me down and keeps me from feeling too gross when I arrive at my destination.
Yes, I did book myself in to business class. As I previously said, I have a very bad back among other things. My flight from Incheon to Dallas would be 12hr and then another 2.5hr to Tampa – I was ok with paying a bit extra. After receiving my Exit Allowance from the EPIK program, I only had to shell out about $500USD to have a bit of luxury on the way home. WORTH IT! What did I do on the long long flight? Well, when you have the ability to watch Tango & Cash (when you haven’t in over 20 years), why not? Here’s a few shots of my Business Class flight with American Airlines.
Ok, so I arrived safe-n-sound in Dallas and managed to get a few hours of sleep on the trip. Although DFW was packed, I managed to make it through all 3 areas of security (passport check, baggage claim, regular security) in a little over an hour. Unfortunately my flight to Tampa was delayed by an hour, but I was able to use my American Airlines 500 miles points to upgrade my seat to first class for the last leg of the trip. Woot!!
I made it home at 12:30am EST on 2/26 (2:30pm KST 2/26) – yes folks, that’s a 28 hour trip – and I SURVIVED!!
It has been a little over a week since I arrived at my parent’s house in Bradenton, Florida and it has been an easy transition so far. Being that this is Florida, and I spent most of my childhood in Ohio, I still feel like I’m on vacation! The weather is perfect every day, and the local beach is only 3 miles away. I think I’m gonna enjoy spending the next 6 months here!
That’s a very good question! My primary goal for the next 6 months is to do some freelance writing work, spend time with my parents, and visit family and friends in Texas and Ohio. I may try to get a few more places, but that will depend on how much $$ I make freelancing.
In September, I hope to be taking off on a new adventure, on a new continent. I have a few things in the works and expect to hear word back sometime this Spring! Stay tuned 🙂