For six months, Jeju island has been my home. I never meant to stay this long, I only came to visit. But things change, you meet good people, you find things that are worth sticking around for. Since being here, I have competed in football, ultimate frisbee, and volleyball competitions, camped out on beaches, cycled hundreds of kilometres, walked many hours, and enjoyed swimming in the sea. It is a good place to spend time, particularly in the summer.
But now my visa is up. It has been almost three months since my treacherous visa run to Japan and I have decided that this time around, I will leave. Last time I left Korea, I thought I would never come back (certainly not to teach at least – which I didn’t), and I left to hitchhike around Europe without plans as I searched for a non-specific change in my life. I found that nothing and I loved it. But this time I have a plan.
If I think back even further, a whole decade, to when I finished high school as a ‘just-turned sixteen year old,’ the contrast is even larger. At that time I opened up teletext (does anyone else remember this?) and looked for bargain holidays in Spain so that I could spend a week or two in the sunshine. I don’t even remember the name of the place I went to, but it offered me flights, unlimited alcohol, food, and a room stacked on top of several hundred others for a fixed rate fee. How. Times. Have. Changed.
As I prepare for my departure from Korea, I have plans – plans that take me in a direction I think I want to be going – we need to all at least try moving in the right direction, right?
I will leave Korea, spend the night in Tokyo, then fly to England and spend five days with one half of my family before spending 5 days in France with the other half of my family. The longer I am away, the more I miss seeing them at regular intervals – do others feel the same? From France, I’ll hitchhike to Norway where I’ll spend a month (assuming I make it past the trial period) building a wooden hulled sailing boat on a self-sufficient organic farm. There I hope to learn more of permaculture, farming, boat building, sailing, and very importantly, beekeeping. This is a volunteer project and I will be doing it as a long-term learning experience so that I learn new skills for the future (which I intend fully on using). When the boat is finished, it will set sail to visit eco villages across the world and maybe, at one point in the journey, I would like to be a part of that.
From Norway, comes England – briefly – I found an apiary willing to let me help out – again, I can learn more about bees and offer help in exchange. After England is my next big journey idea, lasting over a month. It involves a cricket bat and walking, but flights, visas, and hammocks have not yet been obtained, so more on that later. Then a good friend has a wedding event in Germany. This takes me through to the end of September and I am excited for every single day.
What is important about all of this, is how long it took to plan it all – I had no idea what the future held, then one day last week, I sat down and sent out a few emails, committed to a few ideas, and booked flights – it took about three hours. Three hours of commitment and decision making to plan out the next few months of my life in a way I really want to live them. What has changed most from the sixteen year old me that went away to Spain? Probably that I am now willing to make things happen for myself. One of the most valuable life lessons I have learnt in recent years is that things don’t just happen unless you make them.
So make them.
What comes after Germany? I have no idea.
But I will.