Tag Archives: My life doesn’t suck!

Eight months*

*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.

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What did you do on the long weekend?

I ask because chances are good that my answer is better.  I went to Japan on the weekend.  I hopped over to Fukuoka, which is at the Southern tip of Japan.  The purpose of my a trip was less about tourism and more about deciding if I wanted to live in Japan after the stint in Korea is over. (Although I fully realise that Japan is a big country and that I only visited one city for one weekend.) Also, I had booked my ticket at a time when I wanted nothing more than to get out of Korea. I am, thankfully, no longer in my Korea-hating rut, but it was nice to have a change of scenery.

Unfortunately, the scenery was rather wet. It poured rain the whole time that I was in Fukuoka, so most of my view of Japan looked like this*:

Even though the rain prevented me from getting many great pictures, it didn’t stop me from having a good time. I walked all over the city on the Saturday, including some residential areas. I stumbled upon this gem, a part of a series outside of a public school:

Japan has some major points in my book, as does any country that likes unicorns. (Canada is included in this category. Did you know that our parliament buildings have numerous unicorn carvings? True story.)

On Sunday I took some time to figure out the train system. It’s definitely not as English-friendly as some other railways that I have used, but it earns several points for customer service. At any point that I was confused (which happens a lot, not just in Japan) there was an incredibly friendly employee readily available to help me out.

I took the train to Dazaifu, an ancient town that is home to several temples, shrines, and ruins.  Actually, it’s a tourist trap.  Still, it was nice to get out of the city and the Tenmangu Shrine was interesting.  It’s filled with good luck charms and a lot of students visit and touch these in hopes of getting good grades on their exams. I found this guy particularly charming. (ha! sorry, couldn’t resist.)

And that was my brief taste of Japan.  All things considered, it seemed like a very live-able place. Teaching in Japan might just be one more cliche that I need to try out.

Hey! While we’re talking about cliches, let’s finish off with one last picture.

*A note for my umbrella-hating readers (because I know that there are at least two of you): Yes, I normally hate umbrellas too. However, they help keep my camera protected and on busy sidewalks I think it’s a good idea to practice defensive umbrella carrying. Also, I don’t have a good raincoat at the moment.

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