It has now been one full week back at home. The first few days back were full of hellos to family and old friends. The first person I saw back in Gainesville was my mom. She greeted me at the airport with a big hug, which was much needed.
We drove home from the airport following my 11pm [on August 11] flight arrival, but I was not tired. I decided to spend my first hours back in America getting Waffle House. I always say Waffle House is best at 2 or 3am and this time was no different.
Waffle House…speaks for itself
After getting settled in the first night, I met some friends the following day to play basketball. It felt great to see them again and get back to our old routine. I also saw my friends Kelly and Andrew who I became close with the previous year at Publix.
Later in the week I traveled down to Hollywood, FL to see more family. I went to the beach, got burnt like old times, and ate great food with great people.
My cousin Nicholas and his dog Axel
Sunrise at Hollywood Beach
This week I have been asked by a lot of people to describe my time in Korea. It has been strange to reminisce so quickly, but I tell them all the same thing: I am so glad I chose to go. Not every day was a fairy tale. There were some long days when I really missed home and the routine I was used to. But those days pale in comparison to the memories I got to make over the last two months: the friends I got to meet, the food/places I got to experience, and the challenges of living in a foreign country.
I have said the word ‘old’ a few times. Normally, I would hear this word when my parents describe memories from their high school days. ‘Old’ might seem a bit exaggerated for two months, but this was my first time living away from home. I have left Gainesville plenty of times, but two months away took it to a new level. I am glad I got to experience that. Coming home has felt so refreshing.
I am very thankful to Dr. [Gloria] Kim for her guidance and support during this program. I owe it to her for convincing me to come. And to Nathan, Ryoma, Busa, Elizabeth, and Kervin for being great friends along the way. And to Dr. Moser for his wisdom and enthusiasm each week. And Professor Hong and all of the MII lab for welcoming me so kindly into their MII family. And my Korean 선생님 for her patience and kindness in the classroom. Lastly, my friends Kelly, Andrew, John, my dad, sister, aunt, uncle, cousins and especially my mom, for keeping me grounded throughout the trip.