New Beginnings. Again...
“Let the grateful heart sweep through the day that it may recognize in every hour some sweet blessing”
-Henry Ward Beecher
So, Korea: yes. I have arrived- very much so. As promised, I will do my best to relate my experiences here and write them in a somewhat coherent and succinct way; however, I cannot promise to be concise…
There has been a (for some) noted lapse in my updates, which will be explained presently. Much has happened, and so I will do my best to put it into categories and pictures.
Arrival/Orientation- I came in on a Monday evening, which would have been Sunday morning at home- a Sunday in which I would have been quite hung over, given the previous night I had with Willow, circumstances considered. Disorientation doesn’t do it justice; yet, due to the jetlag, I still rose early with enough time to do yoga and ruminate before leaving at 6:00 a.m., via Alistair Weary- my Korean liaison, with Bill and Will, the two fine fellows that arrived that same day, by happenstance. The following week was consumed with 11-hour days filled with a very regimented schedule in Asan, a city within the province of Chungnam (like a state) along with the other 60 or so Native Teachers in this district. Professional development and making friends was the name of the game. This is the first time I have taught English as a language, versus a subject, so the input, personal stories, and insight of those that have been here for longer than me was invaluable. Even more important were the personal connections I was able to make right off the bat. Amazing people and energy; I do believe that there are a special several, few kindreds, that will be key players to come. Key.
|Jo Min-a, the cutest orientation counselor this side of the Yellow|
|On the final day of orientation, we gave group presentations. I may or may not have been the self-appointed choreographer for our group, that WON!|
|All Chungnam orientees sweating in the heat|
|The soccer field at the orientation grounds|
|The previously-mentioned King Kong bell|
|I can't remember the name of this, but I believe it's a memorial built in honor of the comfort women of the past.|
|The main little area of the orientation compound. That building is dorms.|
Home- Though it took some work, (which I don’t mind because putting effort into something makes worth-while) my new home finally feels quite comfortable and like my own. Here are some pictures of my building and its surroundings, which is within spitting distance of my school. You could literally throw a stone and it would land on the basketball courts. I will post pictures of the inside of my apartment when I get a few more accouterments and it’s completely done so I can present it as a finished product. It’s still a work in progress.
|My building. I will call it the city flat|
|If you walk outside my building, and look/step to the South|
|If you walk down to the end of the above street|
|In front of my school, Cheonan Technical High. The campus is huge.|
|My desk, and just on the side, Mouse, self-appointed "officer"|
|A gorgeous botanical garden on Anmyeondo Island, named the Arboratum- clearly not Cheonan|
|Lily pads and frogs abound in the countryside here!|
|Same garden as above|
|Greenhouse in that garden|
|Hound sleeping very peacefully there, on the busy street in Seoul|
|Coolest car ever! (street of Cheonan)|
|I'm a sucker for a nice foul|
|Because it's funny|
Food- As seems to be consistently the case, I can connect with the people and culture through my willingness eat anything put in front of me, and actually really love it. I have also earned points for being good at eating with chopsticks! Nothing more to say here than I love the food; it’s doing my body good!
|Local delicacy- squid|
|Despite my skeptical look, I was way into this seafood cornucopia of deliciousness|
|To the face!|
|Seriously all I do here is eat...|
|And grill thick bacon whilst wearing a bib....|
|And drink. I do some of that too... ;)|
Personal- Without meaning to protest, it has felt like a long stretch that I have been rather disjointed. Yet, that has been somewhat of a pleasure, so the former statement isn’t as much of a complaint as it is a reflection of my own expectations. Right away, I applied for my alien registration card: without which, I cannot get my phone to work, bank account, anything, really. On the other hand, the forced hiatus from being connected at the hip with people back home has forced me to be fully present with and to my circumstances, which are beautiful. Speaking of which…
I can’t say that I feel necessarily homesick, or the separation anxiety that I did last year. This is not to say that I don’t think of the people who are reading this and yearn to share these visions and moments with you every single day; but I have brought you all here with me. I look at it this way: I won’t compare Bhutan to this; I can’t. Apples to oranges. But I can say that, when going to Bhutan, I was hoping/assuming that I would magically trans-morph into a certain type of person, simply by osmosis. The time I spent at my home in Nebraska in between Bhutan and now, though not felt or seen as that at the time, added to what I felt and experienced in Bhutan and prepared me for this. I am now fully open, ready, and receptive to all this newness, and I can’t say that was the case in my previous experience. Running the risk of sounding redundant, again: I am so open, grateful, and aware of the blessings that are being bestowed on me now. I feel that life is gifting me in such big and small ways. And with this recognition comes the mitigated sensation that I’m cashing in all my chips at once, inadvertently so. So I hope I can do enough to give back. Because I feel vibrant; I feel vital; I feel I am who and where I should be right now. I am thriving.