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