Recharge and return

Breakfast at home in Bulgaria with my mother's homemade jam. (Photo: Velislava Aleksieva)

Breakfast at home in Bulgaria with my mother’s homemade jam.
(Photo: Velislava Aleksieva)

Living abroad is not easy, but it sure makes me appreciate what I have.

The first time I came to Korea everything was perfect: the streets, the people, the scenery – everything was exciting and interesting because it was so different from what I was used to at home. The culture has captivated me; the way of life makes it easy to do everything I could not do at home; the food is amazing in its variety of tastes and most of all, every person I meet is a new experience.

As time went by I didn’t realize how engrossed I was in this 빨리 빨리 culture of excitement and adventure every day. Then came a time after three or four months when I realized I was getting tired of it all. I wanted some peace and quiet, some time to relax, and to eat some homemade food. Yes, life is good in Korea. But I missed home.

When the opportunity finally came I packed my bags for that long flight back, not believing it was actually happening. The moment I knew it was real was when I saw my family waiting for me at the airport. I hugged them and felt their love for me. I had peace and security again.

The first couple of days back home everybody treated me like royalty, preparing for me all the delicious meals I had missed. In Bulgaria we love homemade jams: sweet ones made from apples, strawberries, and raspberries and salty ones like lutenitsa made from shredded red peppers and tomatoes. We also eat white cheese and sour yogurt I can’t find anywhere else. As I savored the dishes made with basil, oregano, rosemary, sweet red pepper, and parsley, I shared my experiences with my family in detail I never could in just an email.

With all the love and laughter, I felt myself unload and my batteries recharge. Two to three weeks of this peace and quiet was what I needed — just enough time to see my relatives, including the new ones like my newborn cousin, and visit the places I had missed so much like the mountains where we ski in the winter and the Rila Monastery, a symbol of Slavic cultural identity founded in the 10th century by St. John of Rila.

Rila Monastery, Bulgaria. (Photo: Velislava Aleksieva)

Rila Monastery, Bulgaria.
(Photo: Velislava Aleksieva)

During these first few weeks, I felt like everything I had ever needed was at home. Then I found I missed kimchi and bibimbap and my wonderful friends back in Korea. I started to see all over again the reasons why I decided to leave home in the first place.

My batteries were fully charged and I needed to get back to the adventurous life I had chosen for myself. 빨리 빨리!

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