Back for Two Months: Katie's Reflections

Back for two months and it feels like I never left. What was I doing before moving to Korea? Well, I was living at home, job hunting and spending most of my time wearing pyjamas and drinking tea. What have I been doing today? I have been at home, trawling the internet for career inspiration, rocking the "just got out of bed" look and drinking sweet chilli tea. From time to time I find myself reminiscing about the past 18 months; casting my mind’s eye over the breathtaking rice terraces in Banaue; my mind’s ear over the hustle and bustle of the busy Hong Kong markets; my mind’s nose over the incredible smells of street food in Taipei; my mind’s skin over the crisp, cold air on my cheeks as I stared in wonder at the snow-topped Mount Fuji. I am trying desperately to keep hold of these sensual memories, but Asia already feels like a dream and I know soon I will need photographs and the words in this blog as a mental catalyst.

Back for two months and I feel both more at home, and more lost than I ever did while I was away. Being back with my family is brilliant. Not seeing them was the hardest part of being abroad and I am so happy to be back at home. I’m not going to lie, I did enjoy living alone in Korea and being back in my parents’ house does feel like a bit of a step in the wrong direction but fortunately I like living with them, sitting on their sofa, watching their big television and eating out of their well-stocked fridge! Being in a home, rather than just a temporary accommodation, is a lovely feeling. That said, I can’t shake this feeling of being adrift, aimless, lost. What do I do now? Where do I want my life to take me? How long will this limbo last before I start my next adventure…whatever it may be? I’m not talking about my next holiday but rather, about the bigger picture. I strongly believe that life is about the journey, not the destination but I can’t help but feel the need to at least pinpoint my next pit stop. I don’t need to know exactly where I’m heading, but I would like something to aim for and right now “getting a job” feels far too vague. All around me, friends are making big steps – moving in together, getting engaged, buying houses, starting a career. It’s hard not to be a bit jealous of the certainty they must be feeling.

Back for two months and my diary is already full! I didn’t have a diary at all while I was away but I’m so glad I bought one when I returned. Almost every weekend between now and December has something penned or pencilled in, and it’s not exactly going to get quieter as we approach Christmas. The real world has been easy to readapt to for the most part, but getting used to making plans that involve more than two people was one thing that took some practise. Thank goodness for facebook events and instant messaging! For the last five months of my trip I was constantly on the move. The longest I stayed in any one place was a week, and that only happened twice. Making plans and having weekends away should satiate my itchy feet for a while, which my bank balance will thank me for. So I shouldn’t complain about having a busy social calendar, as I imagine it’s the one thing that will keep me sane in this jobless, directionless, tea-filled limbo.

Bank for two months and my room is already full. How is this possible? Before going away I assessed every trinket, ever piece of clothing in my room before throwing it away, sending it into the loft or giving it to my cousins. I was expecting to come home to the bare minimum of possessions, and yet somehow, with half of my things still in the loft, my room is already cluttered. This is partly due to James having relegated me to the smaller bedroom, but I suppose I must be more of a hoarder than I realised. Living out of a backpack was freeing, but that’s because priorities are different when you’re on the road. Being able to pick up everything and leave on a whim is essential. But now that I’m back, for me at least, minimalist living just wouldn’t feel homely. I like shelves full of books and memories cluttering every surface. I appreciate not having to ration my socks, although I’m finding choosing what to wear quite difficult now that I have more than four options. Don’t get me wrong, I have developed some of the usual post-travelling hippy mindset and I do have doubts that most of this stuff is bringing me any real happiness, but I’m not going to throw away things I already own, just to make a point. I could donate clothes and books to charity, and I may well do so, but how much of that money would the people of Laos and Cambodia really see? I do feel a need to help, but I am going to have to really consider how I can best aid the bomb-riddled lands of South East Asia. I’m not just going to guiltily throw money at the problem to make myself feel better. I need to find another way.

This post has developed more of a sombre tone than I expected but I assure you, I am over the moon to be back and relishing the silver lining of any cloud that crosses my path. I am also relishing the rain and cool temperatures that the clouds bring too! Besides, I’ve only been back for two months and the next adventure is already planned.

Watch this space, because the summer of 2013 is going to be spicy!