Living abroad has changed our lives in many ways. As you know, we have had the opportunity to do, see, and experience many new and exciting things while living in Korea. For more than a year now we have been on this amazing adventure and every day new challenges are met and new memories made.
Yet every expat knows that living abroad means that there are things you are going to inevitably miss out on. Even though we understood this reality when moving abroad, there was no way to prepare for the actual emotions that you experience when you are absent from special events. Deaths, births, celebrations; they happen, even without us there. This past weekend was my brother TJ’s wedding. The timing with our new jobs and no immediate vacation days meant that we were going to miss it. Knowing we couldn’t be there, we quickly started brainstorming what we COULD do from the other side of the world.
We found a website that would print life-sized cardboard cutouts if you sent them in a photo. Pricey, but worth it. The cutouts were a huge hit and quite the surprise. We were able to still be in wedding photos and everything! We were also able to work with my parents to contact the venue to ask about a wifi network. With super fast internet speeds in Korea, we were able to give one more surprise to my brother and his fiancé. As they stood in front of everyone and recited their vows, the pastor reminded them that love could know no boundaries and that it had even traveled halfway around the world to attend their special day. At that point they looked to where he pointed and, on a small table in the back, we were on Skype, watching, waving, and transmitting our love. Needless to say, there wasn’t a dry eye on the Oklahoma or Korea side of that internet connection.
Miraculously, we were able to Skype throughout the entire wedding. Watching the first dance, the cutting of the cake, and even chatting with family; we were in attendance as best we could. The battery of the computer lasted over four hours and we stayed up late into the night celebrating from a distant timezone.
During our time abroad, this was the most painful and difficult moment I have experienced. Even though we were able to be there on Skype and see the entire wedding, my heart was still breaking that I could not hug my brother or dance with him like he did with me on my wedding day. I must have cried at least a thousand different times throughout the wedding. Watching them walk down the isle, during the choreographed mother/son dance, and I DEFINITELY sobbed when the DJ asked fathers and daughters to all come to the dance floor and my dad picked up the computer and spun me in circles.
When everything started to wind down, we got time to talk with my brother and his new wife, Sara. After talking with TJ for a while, Sara’s sister came over to say hello. She mentioned how incredible it was that we were able to be “there.” We expressed our regrets of not truly being able to attend and she asked us, “Is living there worth it?”
Without much hesitation, we both answered “YES.”
Throughout even the lowest of lows while living in Korea, we know that we have no regrets about moving our lives here. In fact, it has made us appreciate our lives back home even more. Perhaps you take for granted visiting with your grandmother or going to your nephew’s birthday party. You may overlook how special it is to hug your mother or have lunch with a close friend. After moving to the other side of the world, I think we love them better now.