Well, I’m home. Frankly, it feels as though I never left… except for the new businesses everywhere, the remodeling my parents did on the house and we’re down one dog. Currently, I’m just hangin’ out, catching up with people and trying to sleep off the jetlag… but soon I’ll have to get back to real life. In the meantime, I can reminisce on my trips that I took before coming home.
Just before leaving Korea I spent a week in Okinawa. I met up with my family and some people from my Goju-ryu dojo from in New Mexico. It was an organized trip to train with our grand master, Kancho Ikemiyagi. Kancho means top/head of an organization, so basically, he’s the highest you can get in our style of Goju-ryu. He’s well into his 70’s but is still the most amazing and powerful martial artist I have ever seen or had the honor to train with. In the time when we weren’t training at his [unairconditioned] dojo [in like 150% humidity], we were sightseeing around the tiny island. One of the days we went to one of the world’s largest aquariums, Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, famous for its whale sharks. We also got to go out on a boat ride, see the most famous Okinawan castle, the underground naval base from WWII, the Okinawan Karate Museum, and more touristy stuff. It rained the majority of the time there ☹.
After Okinawa, I returned to Seoul for 4 days to finish up my finals, then headed to Hong Kong with my roommate, Meike. For the first two days we met up with a Hong Kong native, Colbie, who showed us around. We went to a Hong Kong history museum, had ‘tea’, and went to a famous shopping street on our first day. On the second day Colbie took us to the Tian Tan Buddha (the ‘Big Buddha’), where we went on a hike and got to wait out the rain under a shelter, huddled with about 8 full sized cows (best experience ever!!!!!!!). After that we went to have Dim Sum, went to another shopping district and then took in the night view of the skyline. After this, Colbie left to Europe and Meike and I were on our own. On our third day we took a ferry over to Macau and spent the day sightseeing and eating there. Our last day we had British breakfast, made the trek to the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery, had British tea, and went to see a movie (most expensive movie ever!). The following morning, I got up and headed to the airport at 5:30 am, back to the US.
It’s surreal that my exchange year is over, but it’s an experience I will cherish and remember forever. During my 10 months abroad I had ups and downs, but overall it was an amazing experience and I’ll definitely be going back. For now, however, I need to focus on finishing school.