We have officially been in the states for three weeks now, and to all the people that have told us "Welcome Home" I just want to say thank you. It's not so much the literally being at home in Michigan that has been such a relief, although it's been good to see everyone and to have the love and support of family and friends, it's been.... everything.
Like I said before we left, I wish I could explain what it's like to live in another country whose culture and traditions are so vastly different than ours here. To have the freedoms to do whatever you want whenever you want to, to be able to drive without hours of traffic, to have reliable medical and dental care where the physicians are licensed to pratice medicine, to be able to buy healthy, chemical-free food for your kids, to go outside and play in grass, breathe air without worry about chemicals, inhalants, pollution causing repiratory illnesses. There are SO many things we take for granted and don't realize are luxury until you go somewhere without.
The most amazing part to me is that South Korea is considered First World. So much of the country lives in poverty. There is such a vast difference in priorities of heath care, it's astounding. Here there's such an uproar about how little our military is paid annually, but in Korea, our pay is exhorbitant compared to what their soldiers make. The most obscene (for lack of a better word) part of living in Korea was the yellow sand/dust. I wrote earlier about what yellow sand is and how we had to monitor the levels daily, but for those of you that don't remember - Yellow sand is literally clouds of sand filled with pollution and toxins, chemicals, debree that gather over China and spread through Korea and Japan. On the days where yellow sand is high, it causes short term illnesses like colds and asthma in immuno-comprised people (elderly, children, pregnant women). Long term exposure results in similar side effects to smoking cigarettes.
To have the freedom to breathe air, be outside, eat fruits and veggies, without fear of getting sick from chemical contaminants. That is truly something to be thankful for.
It is good to be home. Forgive me if I get a little teary-eyed.