The Afrikaans people have a word for that nice comfortable feeling of being in good company, it’s called gesellig. On Monday night my very dear friend came over after a tough day and my instinct told me a fire had to be made. In a matter of minutes everyone seemed to find their way to my little fire. I tossed a few chestnuts on the fire like we used to do back in Korea and we had ourselves a little geselligheid beside the fire and under a lantern moon. After my friend went home, I lingered making company with a glass of wine, my dog and the night. I suddenly felt home…but I felt like this was a little part of living on my Island that I managed to kindle and bring with me.

I know I’ve confessed to how lonely Ulleungdo is, but I never felt as chopped off from people as I do since I’ve been back. My favourite place is the couch, which can also be labelled as the place where all ideas, productivity and inspiration go to stick a spoon through the roof. In the all too early evenings when my Dad goes to bed, I find myself trying to persuade him too stay a little longer. My Dad, who is generally practices a strict non-meddling policy has politely asked me when I intend on moving back into my bedroom. I think he is worried about how much the couch is starting to sink in the centre.

So in desperation, I have sloffed off the couch to start finding out about that job I was supposed to start in March and that course I am supposed to start studying next year. I am very proud of the money I saved in Korea, but it’s a bit like getting a one-legged Genie who will only grant you one really great wish. No matter which way I twist and turn things around, there’s just no way I can afford studying AND buying a car, or moving out of the house. Why, in a country where the greatest majority of our population cannot afford their own transportation, do we have to have such a crummy public transportation system? It’s one of the biggest reasons I’d rather stress about passing all four TOPIK levels and not having to worry about the lack of these basic resources in my own country, but then again…flying in and out of Korea will probably swallow up the car/study savings fund.

In the mean time my idea of mercy is to quickly skip over the Travel channel, and not read job ads for teachers in Korea. Why is it so hard to live with a problem that is actually so easy to solve? The tight fist of my homeland with its expensive bandwidth issues keeps even our dreams locked up inside behind burglar bars. I miss the freedom of sleeping with my unbarred windows open, and going off to Japan all by myself. I’m rambling…so let me put my dilemma more clearly.

KOREA: Great resources, awesome cheap transportation, good salary, travelling possibilities, safety, health insurance, can sponsor SA friends with holidays abroad while still saving money.

SA: Can sleep on the couch for free, can sleep late, can watch 5 youtube videos a month, can braai with friends, can ask dad to pick up bread rolls for dinner on his way home, can win an electric fence on satelite TV,
can eat meat for cheap.

In light of these things, I’m tired of trying to find solutions for living here.