mudfest and six month reflections

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We went to mudfest this past weekend. It was awesome! The week before I was not looking forward to it due to the long bus ride. But, the ride proved to be less painful than I had imagined and not as long as anticipated. We arrived in Busan Friday evening and promptly met our friends at Breeze Burn's and then proceeded to E-Mart to meet more friends and all of the other bus riders. There were a lot of foreigners there on the wall outside of the mart (maybe 25). It was so strange, because I was overwhelmed by the conversations. I could understand everything that everyone was saying, even though I didn't want to understand some of it. This was overwhelming after living in Korea for six months and being used to tuning out 99% of conversations because you can't understand them. In a crowd, I can always tune into a foreign conversation (any language other than Korean). So, to be in front of E-mart, surrounded by many simultaneous English conversations was an extremely overwhelming experience. My mind couldn't focus. I wanted to be in all of the conversations at once.  
We boarded the bus and tried to sleep a bit during the 4 1/2 hour trip to Boryeong. We arrived around 4a.m. and went directly to our hotel room. It was a cozy log cabin style room and three of us shared the large bed. One friend slept on the floor, but I don't think there was much difference between the floor and the bed, as the bed was a wooden frame with a small thin mattress pad on top. We awoke at 10 a.m. after a few restful hours. We headed to the beach and began the festivities. We wandered down to the mud area, where many foreigners were already heavily inebriated and muddy. We decided to get muddy, as this was mudfest. It was so much fun! There were mud slides and various carnival like blow up slides and such. It was a blast. We stayed on the beach all day drinking, swimming, talking, and laughing. It was a very awesome and memorable day. It was a great once in a lifetime experience. It was hard to believe how many foreigners were there, all living and working in Korea I suppose. It was overwhelming and amazing. Here are a few photos taken from our disposable camera. 
Boryeong Mudfest 2011

About teaching in the R.O.K. We have been really stressed for the past month at work. We have to "perform" for the parents of two of our worst behaved classes that have the least amount of English speaking abilities. We have had these kids (5-6 year olds) for about four months. They had absolutely no exposure to the English language before us and we have had no real support from a Korean teacher. Now, we are asked to put on a grand performance for parents (with only two weeks notice). Needless to say it has been so stressful that, at times, I have wanted to just pack up and leave. Sometimes I begin to wonder what keeps us here. We have been pretty discontent for the past month or so. Some friends have told us that this is typical of the six month period of living abroad. I guess maybe we are just going through the normal progression of living abroad. We have started to think about what we will do when we return home. This is also a very unpleasant thought as the job market and economy seem to be on a steady downhill slide. So thoughts of going home are scary, but thoughts of staying longer than a year in our current job and town aren't much better. Still I want to enjoy the time that we have left. We have many trips planned for the second half of our year here. I keep looking forward to these things and thinking that this is why we are here. 
I think that at the beginning it really was fulfilling me, but now it is not so new and exciting anymore. The thrill of it all has worn off and I find myself tired and ready to go home sometimes. I feel like that is giving up, because there is so much more to be seen and done here. I hope that we are just in a rut. I hope that things will turn around in and after Thailand.  
Yes, Thailand. Only 7 more days. I keep thinking about it and holding on and hoping that it will be the answer to everything. That it will revive me, cure me, restore my soul. I just want to lay on the beach for days and get a tan. Rest, relax, eat pad thai, drink thai beer, forget my responsibilities, forget about life for awhile. I think that's what I need. I think it will help. It is all I can hope for. I have run out of other options.  
Living here is and has been a very up and down experience. One minute everything is great and the next minute everything is terrible. Emotions run very thin here and even the smallest stresses can be unmanageable. I am sure that if you are living abroad you can relate. Normal everyday things that should be very easy can turn into the most difficult tasks. 
It is strange for me to see the progression of my writing and experience here and really reflect on it. I have changed so much that even I can realize it as I am writing this. At the beginning I was so green and new. Everything was amazing and adventurous. I have changed to realize that things cannot always be new and exciting. Everything changes. I have come to see the challenges of this experience that I had never even given a second thought as I was planning this year. Being so far away, losing touch with people, missing family so much that you dream about them frequently, forgetting what things look like and smell like and taste like at home. Imagining all of the things that you will do and eat at home. Imagining what it will be like to hug your family for the first time at the airport and wanting it so badly. These are the things I didn't even think about before I left. But now, sometimes, they are all I can think about. When times get tough now, I think that I could just go home, but I don't want to quit. I know that would be really stupid and I would regret it forever. 
Maybe this is how marathon runners feel. Halfway done, sometimes you want to give up, you didn't anticipate all of the pain and difficulty. You thought, it's just running, how hard can it be? But, it turns out it is pretty hard. But, I think that if you can just finish it and cross that finish line you are so proud of yourself and it changes you in ways that you had never imagined that it would. I hope that will be what I find when I cross the finish line. I hope that I will be happy that I finished, even if I am crawling. I hope that I will look back on it all and even in the hard times realize how much I have grown and changed and learned about myself and other people and the world. Maybe that is why I came here after all. 

teaching english in korea. 
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