First things first: For whatever reasons you are coming to Korea, make sure that the reasons are your own. In my experience travelling to Korea your first trip here, or really even your first few trips here will be nothing like any other vacation that you have taken in the past. Whether you come here with a group of adoptees on a trip facilitated by one of the Post Adoption Service Organizations (PASO) here in Korea, your family, you closest friends and confidants, or alone is obviously up to you, but make sure that your heart and your head are ready for WHATEVER might come your way. I want to emphasize this point before proceeding onto the finer details of what you can expect because in all honesty no matter how much you plan for, and how many thousands upon thousands mental situations you put yourself though prior to your trip there is no guarantee that you will come back home the same person that you were. That being said there is also no guarantee that you will change either. None of this is said to deter anyone from taking their first steps back in the country of their birth; if anything I would only want to whole heartedly encourage each adoptee I meet to at least take one trip back to Korea. However, I also think that too often adoptees and adoptee organizations overlook the important details and emotional repercussions that could very well change the way one thinks, feels, and acts. The best advice that I can offer anyone who finds themselves walking out of Incheon International Airport and headed towards Seoul for the first time is this: Remember who you are, remember where you came from and be open to whatever will come your way during your trip and everyday after.
Coming back to Korea is a big deal. Even if we don’t admit it to anyone but ourselves. For some the decision to come back is an easy one. For other people it can take years to finally decide to come back. Although I have my own opinions on which I think is easier to handle (although not necessarily better) I would suggest that the decision to come back is one that is made while keeping the thoughts and feelings of our loved ones in mind. I realize that some people are more private than others, I myself being a very private person with the exception of a few people, but life was not made to go through alone. Without trying to preach for the sake of preaching I truly believe that the best moments in our lives will be the moments we share with the people we love, and I think that Korea and the memories that have been made and will be made here are no different. I was lucky to take my first trip to Korea with a group of my friends whom I had met in high school and through Taekwondo. If anything the trip only brought us closer and to me, that group of people will always hold a special place in my heart because together we broke and ate hodduk, we drank glass after class of cold soju, and we travelled to places together that I have not even walked with the people whom I share the same blood with. Even without them knowing each one of those people whom I had the privilage of travelling with touched my life and made an impression on my memory in a way that few people have. I am fortunate enough to say that every trip I have taken to Korean since then has only added to the wealth of memories and friendships that have been cemented into my memory and helped shape who I am.
Long story short is this: much like a trip to Las Vegas, anything can happen when you come to Korea. However, unlike Las Vegas your trip to Korea is much more likely to be journey that has been a longtime in the making as a defining part of who you who you are, who you could have been, and who you will be. Be open, be optimistic, and be sure to include the people you love and care about. Safe travels.
Note: Like Vegas it is also very well possible that your trip to Korea could be filled with alcohol and subsequently short term memory loss. For anyone who is unsure of what I mean by this, be sure to check out my post about “soju,” or at least take the time to Google it.