South Korea, 2018

Expectation: This post will narrate how the trip has been the break that I needed; that after this I felt recharged and ready to take on my life again; and I will be more ready for my tasks as I have taken a few days to relax and unwind.

Reality: I keep trying to look for literally anything connected to the expectation above to write about this trip. I want to say that it felt like the break I needed, and that I’m more willing to go to work again.

That is not entirely the case.

Prior to going to Korea, I have talked to my doctor about my anxieties and worries and asked for advice on what I should do. I have also talked to my adviser regarding my work, how I don’t think I can deliver what I have promised. Both of them have been understanding and encouraged me not to stress about the things in my life and to enjoy my week-long vacation in Korea, and just think about everything else once I get home.

So that’s what I did. From the moment I arrived at the airport to wait for my flight to Incheon, I tried not to think about the work. I basked in the excitement I never got to feel weeks before the trip because there were just too many things to worry about. I let myself feel happy that I got back in my favorite place on Earth. I resolved that for a week, I’m not a researcher, I’m not a lecturer, I’m not a student, I’m not working, I’m not a patient, I’m not depressed. I’m a tourist.

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And I genuinely enjoyed myself there. I even got to read a web novel, and it was a love story. I met new people. I didn’t feel the need to post pictures while I’m there to show that I was really enjoying myself. We went through the itinerary, took pictures, tried their food (even the spicy ones), went crazy shopping, tried to blend in with the people, tried to speak the little Korean that I know.

I just realized, while I was there, I felt normal. Still hit by sadness every now and then, but my heart felt full.

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But it was a vacation, it was just a break from life. As the days went by, as we got nearer to our date of return, I realized that the trip had been an escape. I didn’t want to go back; I never want to leave.

Still, I took the flight back home, and I felt really sad. Going back to the Philippines meant going back to my true self, and going back to live in the reality that I have. I have work to do, bills to pay, students to grade, a thesis to finish, a life to fix. After unpacking the things I bought for the people here, everything begun to sink in. I’m back. Korea is again miles away.

I pondered about two questions: was the trip good for me, and did I get better after the trip?

Short answers: the trip had been good for me, and yes, I felt better after the trip.

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You might be wondering how it had been good for me and if I’m really feeling better after the trip, after I just wrote how sad I have been to return. The trip was exactly what I needed; I just didn’t know it.

After getting back, of course I had to accept the reality that yea, I’m still the depressed person who left a week ago. Initially it felt really bad because I was hoping that the trip would make me a brighter person inside, but nothing much has changed. I thought I needed the trip because it would take away some of the negativities that I have, and I’d return happier, just like the Hong Kong trip.

But I needed to feel normal again, to feel like myself, so I can breathe. So there would be something to look forward to in my life again. It was what this trip has shown me: to live in the moment, to not worry, and to have something to look forward to.

It didn’t give me freedom from my worries, but it gave me a glimpse of what’s in store for me if I kept fighting for just a little longer. I’m returning again next February, during the winter. A few months ago, to give myself something to look forward to, I have decided to plan out my life, and one of the plans is to work overseas, but I’m not sure about which country yet. After the trip, I have decided that the country I want to work in would be Korea.

It’s all vague in my mind still, but hey, anything that makes me want to get up in the morning, right? I’m not gonna lie, I’m still not 100% okay, and I still get eaten up by the shitty thoughts in my head. I go to sleep wanting to get away from everything, but I wake up feeling a teeny bit more normal. Not totally better, but it’s already more than I am asking for.

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See you again, South Korea 🙂


Also, I have to give the people I traveled with a shoutout since without them, the trip wouldn’t be as fun hahaha

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That’s it for this trip! I miss Korea so bad already 😦 #

Love, Lady 💛

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