It is my first goodbye in Korea before officially leaving in late December. I remember the pretty sights and beautiful scene. My gym, GymIt, offered me the home and safety where I can be alone with my thoughts. Earphones on, queue song. I did not know today is the last day of my membership. Above on the screen read, 9/6/2021-12/5/2021. I did not anticipate this dream. How quickly these four months flew by where my day-to-day classes slowly became accumulated knowledge and when many new faces in classrooms slowly became my friends.
The many walks and bus rides near Sinchon station to my in-person class or the many nights I would exercise away at my gym. I realize throughout my time abroad, I take many pictures of the tourist scenes that the everyday life like coming back to SK, my dorm building, or going to the gym became part of my daily routine so photos are no longer needed. As I come to an end at my gym, I spend the next few hours reminiscing about GymIt. And it is not just this moment that brings that deep sadness. I miss the familiarity and home that this gym offered with the front desk workers always greeting hi or the bell that welcomed me in with its chime as I entered my number into the system. I cannot help but think about the many memories undocumented that deeply became a part of my memories.
Here goes my many firsts:
My first Opera show
My first ride in someone’s Porsche after a night out in Itaewon
Another ride in Jeju in someone’s BMW after the taxis were no longer running
My first time meeting friends from Europe
My first time abroad in a new land without the safety of home (where photos cannot capture that feeling)
And as I think about these experiences, I am realizing the most meaningful moments are the ones left undocumented. The many trips I took for myself and the many self-reflections I did. My time in Seoul is coming to an end and sometimes I find myself forgetting who I am back in the US. Something I am very fortunate being abroad ito have the opportunity to grow as a person without the titles that dictated my past: my Business and Computer Science majors, my previous internships as a Product Management Intern, along with my own identities as a daughter and a focused academic. I rediscovered myself in a new surrounding discovering who I want to be without the professional and academics which greatly defined me. And I also found ways to happily do things by myself and to take time for myself even if it does not partake in Seoul’s big night life. Just as new exploration is important, old hobbies like watching the Great Gatsby while wearing a beauty mask feels just the same. As I sit in my room writing this, I cannot help but think about the emotional independence and self-assuredness I am gaining, along with the many lost memories and re-discovered identities of myself.
And for my gym friend till I see you again GymIt. May I still see you standing tall in Sinchon when I head back.