Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Done with this Chapter...

Fia ai? Hungry? This is some sampling of roadside foods.

So, as I write this it is my last post before returning back to the states. I have now been done as a volunteer for a few weeks, but it hasn't really seemed final until today. So, everything is almost all done including my travels after PC (for now). Tomorrow i get on the plane and make my last trip back to the states. In some ways that prospect seems harder to me than actually leaving Samoa. Maybe because by heading somewhere else first, it didn't seem so permanent.

I know I have said it before, but I am nervous about going back... knots still form in my stomach when I think about it. It seems almost cliche to me to say I am not the person I was when I left, because everyone seems to understand that, but do they? Do they really understand that I am not excited or moved by some of the same things that once captured me? Somethings I used to be passionate about seem almost trivial to me at times and some of the things that seemed trivial before now seem huge, I have new passions and new goals... I am still me, but tweaked a bit. I ask my friends and family to be patient with me and forgive me if it takes me awhile to really feel comfortable back in the states... I know that everyone back home has changed too, almost all of my friends are married now. They have new goals and passions; it will take some getting used to. I think that is what sometimes overwhelms me. For the last 2 years I have lived with and around other volunteers who shared the same basic ideas, almost like we were in our own little world and it will take me awhile to let that world go. We all understand what it feels like to miss hot water, or what the other is struggling with on their compound... To not be surrounded by that common understanding is hard to let go of. I know that yesterday is dead and over, but that doesn't stop me from hanging on a bit longer. So, from my stomach, my nerves and my prayers, that's where i am coming from. Like I asked before, please be patient with me. I am so excited to see everyone again even if it might not seem like it at times... everything takes adjusting to.

That being said, I have one last set of pictures and posts of my life in and around Peace Corps. These last few days I have just been wandering around Seoul, seeing the sights (including some amazing palaces), and I met up with Mike. He was a volunteer in Samoa who finished last December. He, among numerous other returned volunteers from Samoa, has been living in Seoul teaching English. Tho, his time is up shortly. We got to reminisce and chatted a bit in Samoan.

Ok, so tomorrow I fly back... I will finally be the one on the other side of the pond. Until that day comes... here are some pictures to hold you over. Enjoy

Here are some shots from the Gyeonbokgung Palace. It used to be the main palace until the main area was burnt down. It was originally built in the 1400s.

The main entrance gate. Kings and Queens entered in the middle. Servants on the right and left.

Me outside the kings quarters. The rows of stones to the right are where the officers stood. Each stone is engraved with their ranking so they knew where to stand.

One of the entrance ways

Very delicately painted. It's protected with chicken wire and has been re-touched up.

Behind me was the main temple area, but most of the surrounding area was also destroyed by fire.

The Palace gardens are always my favorite parts.

Not part of the palace. Moving on, some more roadside eateries.

Below are pictures from Changdeokgung Palace. After Gyeongbokgung Palace was burnt down, Changdeokgung became the main one. It burnt down 200 years later. Because in this palace all rooms/buildings are connected together, when it caught on fire, it really burnt down fast.

Looking into the main palace area.

A closer look at where the officers stood. You can see the engravings on the stones.

I liked this building because it didn't look like any of the other ones. It has pillars in front.

The queens quarters.

This tree is in a lake.. it looks like stone because the lake is frozen. It was snowing most of the day i went to this palace.

Another temple on the water. They like combining all the elements together.

And that concludes a chapter in my life. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my life in Samoa and abroad as much as i have enjoyed writing it. I will occasionally post a few updates on my whereabouts once I start to get somewhat stable back in the states, so tune in occasionally. You never know where you will be called...


At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Cousin Tom said...


Often you hear the phrases "time of your life" or "once in a lifetime" in regard to the nature of your last two year adventure.

Are you the same person that left for Samoa over two years ago? In the final analysis, if you are that same Julya, then you have grossly failed in your true mission. You have grown from that person to become so much more. Is the seed of Julya still intact? I am sure it is, however your seed has not only germinated and sprouted, it is branching out to a maturity that you are yet to fully comprehend.

What you have been through is not simply a "life changing experience". As time passes you will begin to learn more about yourself and the impact this time has been on you than you can now imagine and in ways more subtle than you have yet to consider. You will look at your passport photo or signature one day and compare it to an image of you and your signature now and begin to realize that.

Someday you should see the Cousin Tom of my passport prior to and the change after my year in Denmark. To this day I often find that my biological clock remains on Copenhagen Time.

You write of the gradual permanence of your departure from Samoa. In truth you have not and will never leave Samoa and Samoa will never leave you. You each have left an imprint upon each other and upon all of us that will not wash away.

Your adventure has not ended, it has yet to begin. Your evolution has not completed, it has merely found a new catalyst. You have not reached your destination; you have yet to make the true departure; you are at a fork in the road of your life and the path you will take next is yours to choose. I am confident that you will choose wisely and make all of us with whom you have shared your life very proud.

Will this be the most memorable time of your life? Perhaps for now, not likely forever, however you will never cherish this time less than you do now, as the roots of your life grow deeper and the fruit you bear matures so will the memory and influence upon you of these last two years grow.


Cousin Tom


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