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  • Writer's pictureTiara Inserto

Korea ‘22: It started with an idea.

A few years ago, in my secondary school group chat, I made the following suggestion:

If anyone wanted to do something special for their 50th and wanted someone to do it with, ask me.

It was offered somewhat impulsively but I was at a stage in my life where some of my fabulous women-mentors were encouraging me to start stretching physically, mentally and/ or emotionally.

They challenged me to see what was beyond the comfort zone of a Californian housewife.

Out of nearly 50 women, only one person took me up on the offer.

And out of those same 50 women, she’s probably the one who is most opposite to me.

I like to tell people S has a Los Angeles vibe while I’m more SF Bay Area. She’s a 5 star hotel-seeker; I never look that high.  I like to dry my clothes on an outside line; she rolled her eyes at the idea.

Even her mom texted me asking if I was sure I wanted to travel with her daughter.

But a shared history often allows for these differences. We’ve known each other since we were four years old. She was the conduit to my meeting my husband and even suggested the church I eventually got married in.

At random meetings over thirty years, we’ve always managed to have a good time. We compromise often, recognize the need for space, and throw in the occasional insult at each other’s choices.

Korea was never on my travel bucket list.

S’s birthday wish encouraged an interest in a country and culture that has since grown. In my attempt to prepare for this trip, I’ve acquired new friends from around the world, began the study of a non-romanized language, attended a Kpop concert, and watched way too many KDramas.

My newfound appreciation for all things Korean started because of someone else’s wish.

It was an unexpected nudge into something new.

Almost three years later, it’s finally time for the trip.

I’m looking forward to seeing - and eating - a lot! I’m also meeting two women I’d met online. In the past year and a half, they have helped me see Korean culture from more personal perspectives.

And, if after ten days S and I still talking to each other, I’ll consider that a bonus!

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