*When I first started writing this post the title was “six months.” Clearly I am putting the procrastination skills that I learned in university to good use.
In feels like just last night that that I was riding in a cab from the airport, watching the neon lights with strange letters and wondering what I had gotten myself into. Today, eight months after that frightening taxi ride, I feel so comfortable here. I no longer have to psych myself up to go to the grocery store, nor am I afraid of going to work.
Speaking of work, perhaps the most surprising thing that I’ve learned since being here is that I don’t hate teaching. In fact, I enjoy it – most days. I have a lot of fun with the kids. Of course there are frustrations but, as a whole, I would say that I want to punch myself in the face much less than when I worked at the call centre. I definitely get to use funny voices a lot more than when I was working the phones.
I’ve also seen an increase in my patience. I consider myself, in general, to be a pretty patient person. However, working with young children and living in a country where I do not speak the language have both tested and increased my patience. When I first started teaching I (silently) went nuts when students took five minutes to decide if they wanted the red sticker or the gold sticker. I wanted to scream, at the top of my lungs, “THIS IS NOT SOPHIE’S CHOICE!!!” Now I can hum and haw along with students and I sincerely sympathize with the importance of creating the right colour combinations.
I am embarrassed to admit that even after eight months, my Korean language skills still hover just above nonexistent. Nonetheless, I can get by in my daily life with few obstacles and I have friends who can help me on special occasions when I need a Korean speaker.
I have also seen a fair bit of Korea’s scenery and culture. I’ve taken trips to Hadong and Busan in the South, Gyeongju on the East coast, and Gangwha-do on the West coast. I have gone rock climbing in the mountains in Bukhansan and I have witnessed a traditional Korean wedding at Namsan Folk Village. I have tasted teas and eaten jellyfish. I cheered for Canada from afar during the olympics and I cheered for Korea alongside the masses during the world cup. I have more adventures an travel within Korea that I plan on doing once the weather gets a bit cooler again. Among other things, I want to do a temple stay, see the DMZ, and climb a few more mountains.
So, here I am, with two thirds of my time in Korea completed and four more months to go. I am grateful for the experiences that I have had so far and even more excited about the travel and adventures that lie ahead.