wider, richer, deeper

The woman behind the counter smiled when I walked through the door. Her face was young; her dark hair, tinged with gray.


Crowds in Seoul (image credit: world-walk-about.com)

“Hello, Jessica.”

“Hi, Joanne!”

“You ah back from Taiwan?”

I nodded. “Yes. Actually, last year I was in Hong Kong.”

“Oh? Hong Kong?” She reached for the dry-clean-only garments in my hands and began to examine them as we talked. “Did you like?”

“Yes, I did; I liked it very much,” I said. “Except it was too crowded! There were soooo many people.”

She nodded, knowingly. “Like Seoul.”

“Yes . . . Do you miss Seoul?”

“No!” Her vigor surprised me. “Too colduh! Too crowded!”

“But don’t you miss your family?” I persisted. There was something about the way she’d said that…

“Mmm,” she affirmed. “But I cahn always visit.” A twinkle came into her eyes as she moved to her computer. “Is Satuhday okay?”

“That’s fine,” I smiled. I would’ve loved to have talked more, but I could see that she was busy. Another customer had just walked through the door. “See you then. Happy New Year!”

“Happy New Yeah,” she said.


As I got into my car outside, I watched Joanne through the clear glass window. She caught my eye and waved.

No matter what she said, I could tell she liked talking about her hometown.

Snow in Seoul

Snow in Seoul (image credit: stuff.co.nz)

Living and traveling in Asia opened my eyes in ways I never could have imagined. Suddenly, I can (begin to) relate to a vast number of people who, previously, I was more or less cut off from. Suddenly, I have a glimpse into their worldview; an idea about what their homeland is like, and how different and how magical.

And it has made life . . . so much deeper. So much richer. So much more colorful.

So much more powerful.


Railing to Haedong Yonggung Temple, near Busan, Korea


Korean elderly gentlement

Elderly gentlemen in Korea

School group in the Busan aquarium

School group in Busan


Statue at Yongdusan Park, Busan

Beautiful, mysterious Korea

Stairs leading to the Dalmaji Pagoda, Busan

7 thoughts

  1. Another Great column! I lived in Seoul as a child. It was of course very different then, more of a third world country. Now it is very prosperous. I always wonder when people live abroad how that effects their view of America. When you came back did the US seem like a very different place to you?

    • Thank you, Terri. And the answer is “yes!” Everything seems different. El Dorado Hills feels like a ghost town after living in Hong Kong. But it’s more than that, too. I learned so many things and saw such a different way of life—from living conditions to grocery shopping routines to entertainment choices to cultural values. It has vastly improved my ability to relate to Asian immigrants here in the States. Suddenly, I can guess which general region they might be from; no longer do I think “they all look alike.” And it’s made my interactions with people so much more meaningful. Even non-Asians. If I meet a fellow traveler, suddenly, we have something in common. A shared experience. A travel tip. A loved destination.

      This is the first of what I hope to be many posts illustrating how worthwhile it is to spend time abroad, if ever a person has the chance.

  2. Great observation about how living abroad widens our understanding of many other corners of the world and (at least giving us a hint) about the life experiences of others!

    • Thanks, expatlingo! So sorry it’s taken me so long to reply. Yes, living abroad has deepened my awareness and understanding of the parallel worlds that exist on this planet, and how some of us have roots in multiple, very different places… I want to live abroad again. The is so much more of the world to see, and so much more understanding to be gained.

      Thanks for reading. Your visit means a lot!


    • Hello, there! I am SO sorry it has taken me so long to respond to this comment. It ended up in my spam box, and I’m not sure if it belonged there. Thank you for the compliment and for reading. It means a lot to me!

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