Thinking about the future can be pretty scary. For every decision that we make, there are a thousand “What if” questions that can crop up. What if I had done this or that differently? What if I hadn’t said that, or gone there? This is as true for travel as it is anything else. My life changed dramatically when I said “What if I do apply to EPIK?”, which (if you are a regular reader) you will know I did back in 2013.
So, I have been home since January now. Nearly 6 months. Half a year. We are fast approaching a year since I left Korea. And I decided it was time for me to reflect on this. What do I think, having been out of ESL for a year now? What are my future plans?
I don’t think it is a secret to anyone that since leaving the world of ESL I haven’t coped with life in the West that well. Although I loved being in Canada, I couldn’t work there so that was never going to be a long term solution. Montreal is a fantastic place to be (Marta is currently back there, and although it isn’t in the best of circumstances, even she can’t deny it is a great place). The people I met in Canada were friendly and treated me well. But most importantly – it wasn’t “home”.
The biggest feeling I have had since leaving Korea all those months ago is one of not really belonging anymore. Home, or what was once home, doesn’t feel like it for me. At first, I assumed it was simply reverse culture-shock.. But after a year, and still feeling the same, I know that isn’t the case. I am a traveler at heart and being at home provides me with no adventure. I get up everyday, like many, and go through the motions. But I have seen a glimpse of something different and now there is no going back. I took the red pill, and leapt down the rabbit hole.
But in doing so, I discovered something wonderful. I discovered friends I never would have met otherwise who mean the world to me now. I discovered a way of doing a job that brings you joy everyday. A job that is always different, challenging but extremely rewarding. A way of life that is unique and a wonderful community of people to share that with. Given my chance to do the last year over, I wouldn’t change much. But if I had to make one change, it would be never leaving the world of ESL.
I miss it everyday, and though I enjoy my job now, it isn’t anywhere near what I felt doing ESL. I miss my friends, my little apartment. The ajumma at the corner store who gave me tomatoes one summer day because she had some spare. The ajusshi who ran a local glasses store, and provided Marta and I with the same service a year later. I miss coffees overlooking the city of Cheongju. I miss brunch with TJ. The smiles of my kids as they finally got that word right they’d been struggling with. Their enthusiasm for Sports Day. I miss never knowing what was going on.
I miss the life of the expat.
And friends – as great as it is being home, I count everyday down as one less until I can leave again. Once the travel bug bites you, and you experience that life, I honestly don’t think you can happily do anything else.
As a wiser person than I said, “I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”
So, I have been in Canada now for around two weeks. In this time, I have managed to only post on here once. I know I have the excuse of moving countries but that excuse is wearing thin and I am disappointed in myself for not posting here more regularly. Luckily, Marta’s Mum has decided to become our unofficial tour guide for Chambly and the surrounding areas so I have been on a few adventures already.
The first (and the one I am going to write about today) was an art festival to celebrate 350 years of Chambly being settled. The city of Chambly is located south-east of Montreal and is located in Quebec. It is famous because of the strategic location it holds along the Richelieu River. Chambly has a fort, built to defend this important location against the English, and local tribes. Today, the fort is run by Parks Canada.
Now our short history lesson is over, I can talk about the art event itself. There were over sixty stalls for artists from the local area (who had been carefully selected) to display their work. These stalls were located just outside of the fort and provided a sensory-overload for the eyes. There was a huge variety of styles, colour and mediums for the thousands of spectators to browse.
As part of the requirements for participating in the show, the artists would have to work on something in their stall. Watching the various artists working on a wide range of pieces was extremely interesting and informative for me (as I know very little about art).
Perhaps the most exciting part of the whole event was that Marta’s Mum was in the show. She exhibited a range of different pieces in her fantastic and unique style and seemed to be in her element. I doubt I have ever seen someone so happy.
If you end up in the Chambly area around late August, the art show (that I am told happens every year) is well worth a visit!
As well as the art, they also featured a large number of historical re-enactors showing the public what life would have been like in the 17th Century. Much of the remainder of this post will be a series of pictures (all taken by Marta) showing the re-enactors with some explanation to what they were doing. Sorry if I don’t provide much information but they were explaining everything in French so I understood basically nothing.
Finally, with our eyes overwhelmed and minds exhausted, we headed home. But not before Marta got me to try some poutine This is a dish that originated in Quebec and that is deliciously simple. Made up of chips, cheese curds and gravy, this is a dish that you have to try if you get the chance. Bonus points if you can do it in Quebec, where Marta informs me is the best in Canada.
I’ll write again soon,
So, the more observant amongst you will notice that I haven’t posted anything on here for a while. This is because (as I am sure you know) I have been in the process of moving countries. Moving from sleepy Cheongju to Quebec in Canada. This move marks an end to An Englishman In Chungbuk. But fear not – it also marks the beginning of a new chapter in this blog’s life. An Englishman In Quebec has been born.
So, what does this mean for you, dear reader? Well, I will (obviously) no longer be posting things to do with the subject of Korea. That was an obvious move because I no longer live there. Instead, expect so much Canadian themed content you could shake a moose at it. I plan to post articles about my life here for the next four months, including restaurant reviews, information about the area I am staying in (Chambly and Montreal for the more curious among you), photo compilation blogs of life here in the Chambly area. So, basically, much of what you have come to expect from this blog.
I have also put my second blog on a temporary hiatus. This means that I have the time and energy to work on creating great content for this site. In fact, the first thing I need to do is a “rebranding”, so to speak. This means a new layout, menus and site banner to reflect my move to Canada.
Well, that is it for this short update. Expect my new site to be up and redesigned within a few weeks and keep your eyes open for my first Canadian post.
As they would say here in Quebec, au revoir.