Day One in Haeundae

I wrote this post at the beach, my first day in my new place. I had no internet then, and so I’m just now getting around to posting it. That day was fantastic. I was told by my co-teacher that the ocean was a 15 minute walk away and as soon as she left me on my own, that’s exactly where I went. I got close to the ocean and I just knew it was there, right on the other side of those buildings, if I could just get past them. And then, I turned the corner and there it was.

It was beautiful.

It was beautiful.

Anyway, here’s the original. There are some additional photos at the end, too!

I think this might be the best place in the whole world.

It's getting to be evening, and I hear guitar music and ocean waves.

It’s getting to be evening, and I hear guitar music and ocean waves.

My life was such shit in so many ways a year ago, and today, I stood on the beach on the verge of tears because I can’t believe how amazing this place is. I feel like I’m getting paid back for living in that hell for so long. I know that’s not really how the world works—people don’t always get what they deserve (good or bad), so I’m going to try to get everything I can out of this experience while it lasts.

I’m not religious, but I attended a church service with my mom just before I left. There was on prayer in particular that began a few simple words, words I never want to forget. Those words keep running through my head now, because at this moment they are perfect (please set them to a background of ocean waves, a man playing guitar and singing in Korean, and the distant voices of people talking and laughing for full effect):


Thank you for this day.

Thank you for this life.

More photos from day one:

Not the most flattering picture of me ever... I was very tired, but look--I'M ON THE BEACH!

Not the most flattering picture of me ever… I was very tired, but look–I’M ON THE BEACH!

I got there late enough that the sun was setting, so the beach looked like this. Perfect timing.

I got there late enough that the sun was setting, so the beach looked like this. Perfect timing.

Most of the beach is sandy, but the far end has all these moss covered rocks. I am a born rock hopper and had to get a piece of that action, the lady in the right side of this shot saw me fall on my ass on the slimy rocks and looked extremely worried about me--I tried to reassure her, not very successfully with the language barrier that I was okay before walking away. Embarrassment knows no language barriers!

Most of the beach is sandy, but the far end has all these moss covered rocks. I am a born rock hopper and had to get a piece of that action, the lady in the right side of this shot saw me fall on my ass on the slimy rocks and looked extremely worried about me–I tried to reassure her, not very successfully with the language barrier that I was okay before walking away. Embarrassment knows no language barriers!

Apparently there is a designated "zone" for foreigners. Wouldn't want them mixing with the general populace or anything--who knows where they've been!

Apparently there is a designated “zone” for foreigners. Wouldn’t want them mixing with the general populace or anything–who knows where they’ve been!

Update: One Month in Busan (or the first time I’ve manage to make time to work on this blog since living in Korea)

I’ve been at my school for one month now, and it’s time to do some blogging. Sorry it’s taken me so long to get this thing updated—I know a lot of you back home have been waiting to hear from me, but it’s taken quite a bit of adjustment to get to this point. In any case, I’m here now, and I’m going to try to post regularly from here on out. You can also expect to see some posts that fall out of chronological order, because while I wasn’t posting, I was actually writing, and I still want to get some of that stuff up, so you can get a sense of what it was like for me on—say—my first day in my neighborhood.

The view from my bus stop. My apartment building is just to the left of this picture.

The view from my bus stop. My apartment building is just to the left of this picture.

So, one month in, here’s where I stand:

People

  • Friends made: about 400,000
  • Friends who live within an hour of my place: 0
  • Times I’ve seen Ryan (my boyfriend, and the only person here who I knew before I left): 3
  • Hours of travel to see Ryan or vice versa: 5 and a half

Life

Pretty waterfall in Ulsan near Gajisan--some advice: DO NOT walk up the road to get to it; take a cab.

Pretty waterfall in Ulsan near Gajisan–some advice: DO NOT walk up the road to get to it; take a cab.

  • New hobbies acquired: 1 (bought a guitar!)
  • Hours of guitar practice: 15-20 (songs learned: no complete ones; songs written: one mostly done—because I will not let lack of skill get in the way of creativity!)
  • Korean words/phrases learned: about 20 on a good day (language is a process!)
  • Korean words/phrases actually used in conversation with Koreans: maaaaybe 10
  • Good beers consumed: zero, but I read about some good bars that I’ll be trying soon!
  • Bad beers consumed: too many to count
  • Hangovers: really, only one…a bit surprising, actually
  • Hikes: one not too pleasant 3 hour walk down a road in direct sun; pretty waterfall at the end, though
  • Nights out in Busan: 1 bar/club hangout (see hangovers above)
  • Days at the beach: 3! I love the beach!

School

  • Co-teachers: 2
  • Teachers at my school who seem to like me and talking to me: most of them (there are 8 full-time, but I think a few more when you count after school)
  • Students: about 100
  • Students whose names I remember: 1 for sure—there are a handful of others who if the teachers are talking about them, I know to whom they are referring, but whom I can’t remember off the top of my head yet
  • Grades taught: 6 (Kindergarten, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th), plus one for the teachers
  • Classes per week: 22
  • Lesson plans per week: about 13-15 depending on the week

So, that’s the overview. How do I feel about it? Most days really good. It’s so great to be away from the trap of a predictable and unchanging life back home. So great to be experiencing bigger things than myself and the small little cavern of the world I had carved out for myself. So enlightening to see and hear how other people live and experience the world around them…

But, on tired days, like today, I miss the stable and predictable life I had back home. I miss my friends, my family. I miss the sense that I was building something or working toward something with my life. Things here are so transient for me and everyone around me (every foreigner anyway), that I can’t help but feel like I am passing through this year and this country like a ship through water or a plane through air. I can never stop; if I do I will drift, or worse, crash. When I’m gone, everything behind me will be EXACTLY as it was before—I am barely even making a ripple now.

It’s not so bad really, but the life I’m used to is one of scaffolding. Everything I did—every job I worked, every social interaction I had, every decision I made—all of it contributed not only to the life I was living, but to the life I would live, the life I could live. (I guess that’s what having small town roots and a small town life is.)

I left because I was tired of that sort of building. It was too much pressure. And when I realized that the thing I’d built and tried to call life, was broken, was something I barely fit into and didn’t want, I couldn’t stay. I needed to be somewhere and do something where nothing would stick for a while.

I got my wish, and I’m so happy that I’m here, that I’m doing what I always wanted to, that I am lucky enough and privileged enough and smart enough and driven enough to get this opportunity, to experience this part of life that I could never get any other way. Not from television, not from books, not from stories other people told, not from travelling as a tourist.

But today, I’m tired. Today, I really miss the easy, predictable, stable life where I could stop for a moment with both my feet on solid ground. Today, I don’t want to think about everything, I want to stop, to rest, to breathe.

More and cheerier posts to come soon, I promise!