As you get older, birthdays get...complicated. It used to be so easy. Cake and candles, invite your friends over, a pile of presents, rinse, repeat. But now that I'm older, it's more of an annoying obligation that anything else at times. It feels as if I'm expected to have a party, expected to go out, when often all I want to do is stay home with a pizza.
The traditional gift for a first anniversary is paper, so I guess after I write this I'll print a copy and frame it. What I'm trying to say is, a little over one year ago, I arrived in Korea. The modern first anniversary gift is a clock, which seems apt as the time has passed faster than I realized. A year already? Are you sure?
I've been looking back through old posts, and it's a relief to see that my feelings about the country haven't changed that much:
Unfortunately I never really got any good pictures of my old place, but it was quite small. Bigger than a dorm room, but not by much. My "kitchen" was a microwave with a hotplate perched on top, and if I had dishes to dry I didn't have even an inch of counter space. No table, no chair, no couch, just a bed and a TV and a dresser. I'm not complaining, though; for the first place I've ever lived in without a roommate, it was quite nice. Certainly cozy in the winter!
As you may have gathered from my previous post, my dreams of living in a space bigger than a shoebox are finally coming true! By which I mean, of course, I moved!
I'll be moving soon, and this fills me with some conflicting emotions. On the one hand, my current place is a sort of glorified dorm room, with no kitchen to speak of and barely enough space to do, well, anything. On the other hand, my landlords are some of the sweetest people I've ever met. It's not unlike renting an apartment from your friend's grandparents.
My students, and I think most language students, struggle with the desire to be perfect. Often, when I ask my older students a simple question that I know they understand, I'm still met with...silence. Averted eyes. Maybe if we don't move she can't see us.
I recently realized that I am a complete hypocrite. Well, in all honesty I've known this for a while, especially when it comes to giving advice, but I had the fact practically thrown in my face the other night. As a teacher of a foreign language, I'm constantly trying to stress communication over perfection. By which I mean, it is more important that you can talk to someone, get your point across, even if your grammar is barely grammar and you're speaking mainly in nouns and hand gestures. Were you able to buy the coffee you wanted? Did they answer your question? Laugh at your joke? A+
I love beginnings. First day of the new year, first day of school, first month in a new apartment. There's this sense of possibility, this sense that now you can finally do all those things you meant to do. You can change the things you meant to change, get going in a different direction. I have a really bad habit of getting...lazy toward the end of something. If I'll be moving in a month or two, I have no motivation to organize my apartment. If the semester is about to end, I have no motivation to rearrange my classroom or find more interesting lessons. I know it's a terrible way to feel, but alas, I'm stuck in the brain I'm in.
The oddest thing about being back home for two weeks was the way it made my life in Korea seem almost...unreal. As if it was nothing more than a very vivid dream. Now, part of this was caused by how much jetlag was addling my brain, making everything a bit more confusing and strange. It was a scary feeling, though. Before I moved to Korea, my life wasn't great. I was done with Seattle, and I felt like my life was on hold, like I wasn't moving in any useful direction. I was anxious all the time, frustrated, unclear about what I was supposed to be doing with my life.
Wow, it's been a long time. All my grand intentions to keep up on my writing while I went back home for 2 weeks evaporated under the pressures of 3 towns in 2 weeks and more family and friends to meet than seems possible. I didn't even see everyone I wanted to, and I still felt like I needed a personal assistant just to manage my social calendar.
Well? Good question.
Before I came to Korea, I'd been considering both Japan and Korea as possible destinations. Thanks to a dumb mistake on my JET application (postmarked by and received by are VERY different, kids), Japan fell out of the running pretty early. However, that doesn't mean that there weren't plenty of reasons why Korea felt like a good choice.
After "What's your name?", "How old are you?", "Do you have a boyfriend?", "Why not?" and "Do you know Dokdo?", one of the most common and weirdly challenging to answer questions I get in Korea is "Why did you come to Korea?" Why Korea, and not some other country? Why would you fly halfway across the world, leave everything familiar, and take a job here?
So let's see...where did I leave off? Ah yes. Bubble tea. Myeongdong. I had plans to meet Yun around 2, so I settled down on a rock...bench...thing in front of the art museum to wait, splitting my time between people watching and reading. The only problem with the choice to read a book is that when he showed up, he was able to scare the living daylights out of me. I now only possess dead daylights. It's a modern tragedy.