Work in Progress

“In the best travel, disconnection is a necessity. Concentrate on where you are; do no back-home business; take no assignments; remain incommunicado; be scarce. It is a good thing that people don’t know where you are or how to find you. Keep in mind the country you are in. That’s the theory.”
–Paul Theroux

A human who loves the world, finds beauty in the unknown, and can't keep her feet on the ground. I like finding unique (and cheap) ways of making my way around the globe. Interacting with people while living, learning, and loving the culture I'm surrounded by.

Friday, February 6, 2015

6 month Koreanversary

It's difficult to think about the past 6 months of my life. I can't conceptualize how fast - and slow - time has gone. When I really sit back and think about it... I've accomplished and experienced so damn much.

The pace of life here is so... different. It was incredibly easy to settle into. After being thrown into a new country with a new language and new food and new people and new everything, I had to just get on with it. Things that are NOT normal (as per American standards), seem extremely normal. Like, squid air drying on the sides of houses and fish being sold out of trucks that make their rounds in my neighborhood advertising through loudspeakers.

It's hard for me to not walk down the street without being in complete amazement of how lucky I am. Whether it's the sweet ajummas feeding me hotteoks or ajusshis exclaiming their love to me, someone or something is always providing me with an extremely Korean experience

Aside from these lovely every day occurrences, I've also been working full time. Adjusting to the life of an English teacher in Korea has been, interesting. I'll say one thing, it is nothing that my degree in Education could have prepared me for. Compared to the way the system works in the states, educational philosophy is just plain different here. I have finally realized the most crucial thing I can do for these kids is TALK TO THEM. And holy crap, it is so much fun. Boyfriends and girlfriends and pizza are my favorite things to talk about. And studying, unfortunately, is a hot topic. It's pretty much the only thing these kids do.What are you doing this weekend? Studying. What are you doing on Christmas? Studying. What do you do when you get home? Study.

There was a day when I had only one student in a higher level middle school class. My director made it clear to me how excited Kelly was to talk to me. I thought that meant she was excited there were no other students. I brought in a few holiday crafts for us to do, since it was the day before Christmas. She immediately started asking me QUESTIONS. Really damn good questions. We spent the whole time talking, about everything.

We talked about how, in Korean high schools, kids study until 10pm and THEN go to after school programs. I asked her is she was afraid of high school for this reason, dreading having to do so much work. She seemed so nonchalant about it, replying that "...everyone has to do it, so it doesn't seem like that big of a deal." When I told her high school students in America get out of school at 2pm, she didn't understand what I was saying. I had to repeat it several times. She was baffled.

She asked my about my favorite place in Las Vegas, and I was so excited to tell her about Red Rock. Whenever I tell kids where I am from, they always exclaim "Casinoooo, teacher! Blackjack!" I  told her how annoying this is and how beautiful the mountains are surrounding Vegas.

Aside from getting a better understanding of the ins and outs of my student's lives, I've been learning how to speak English. Or, really, I've been learning how to explain why things are the way they are, grammatically speaking. One thing that I will always love about being a teacher is the opportunity to not only teach others, but to expand on my wealth of knowledge (or lack thereof) in the process.

Speaking of speaking English... speaking Korean is much more difficult that I would like to admit. I have been trying, really. I know some key phrases and some not so key phrases (which are the ones I use the most). The group of little ones that I teach, the ones who are just beginning to learn English, absolutely love when I use any Korean. Ah, Chincha (아진짜) is used the most, hands down. And, of course, Baegopa (배고파) - I'm hungry.

There are so many positive things that I've accomplished so far, and even more to look forward to. I've made so many great friends, and I have a friend from home who makes me feel sane in this crazy Korean world. I am fulfilling my desire to discover things about this world, travel, and explore - all while working and adding experience to my career repertoire. I'm getting a lot of bang for my buck.

It's wild to think about what this next year has in store for me. For the past few years, I've been lucky enough to keep topping the "best year of my life." Not that one year is necessarily better than another - but I continue building different aspects of my life up and in turn, life just keeps presenting itself as more and more amazing. 

I have a feeling this year will be no different. As long as I continue to accept challenges, open my mind, change my perspective, explore, and inspire - all with a great big smile - my resolution to be the best person I can be will prevail! 

Here's to 2015! 

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