29 November 2010

And if you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there...

95 days in...

Approximately a thousand years ago, when I was a snotty high school kid, I was obliged to maintain a notebook that contained a five-year plan, a ten-year plan, and, I think, a twenty-year plan. Needless to say I completed these assignments with the care and consideration I take all things that require forethought and effort, which is to say I completed them at the last minute with little thought at all.

The truth is, I'm not good at planning things. I understand now why high school guidance counselors value such plans, and force seventeen-year-old kids to complete them. However, a decade since those plans were carelessly composed, a decade in which I've pretty much managed to be a complete bumblefuck, I've come to the realization that I'm not really a destination person. I'm more of a journey person. This really makes me feel a lot better about not meeting the arbitrary deadlines set for me when I was a teenager, deadlines that indicated I might do things like have a career, or a family, or a mortgage, or some other thing that people my age ought to have.

This is just a roundabout way of saying that, as a junior in high school, I likely never would have imagined myself where I am now: in Korea, with a purring kitten dozing on my chest.

Life is alright.

As for Korea...

The job:

The job is good. It's not especially difficult. I like the children. They're easy to like; they tell me I'm pretty and have good hair. This is a welcome change of pace from the children I taught in the States, who thought I was a cow and that I yelled too much. Admittedly, the reason they tell me that I'm pretty and that I have good hair might be because they don't know enough English to tell me that I'm a cow and that I yell too much. I see no reason to teach them this though.

There's a lot to like about the schools here. The students all say hi to me when they see me, or they giggle and turn away because they don't want to speak English. In the morning, when I walk through the halls, I can hear students practicing musical instruments. When I look out my classroom window, I see children jumping rope. Between classes, student play soccer in the halls, or baseball, or whatever... They also beat the snot out of each other, but it's usually playful. I think. It doesn't feel like the schools I taught or worked in in the States, primarily because the children get to be children. They are not forced to sit through hour-long PowerPoint presentations that inform them about the school's 'mission statement'. They are allowed to play.

I also lucked into a situation where the teachers I work with are fantastically kind to me. They take me places, explain my bills to me, and when I take pictures of things that confuse me in the grocery store so that I can show the pictures to the other teachers in order to eliminate my confusion, they don't laugh at me too much. They also bring me gifts of oranges, which makes me wonder if I look prone to scurvy. I think they're just being kind though.

My adviser has already indicated to me that she would like me to stay until 2013. The date isn't arbitrary. It seems that perhaps the program that brought me here will end in 2013. I'm not sure if my adviser extended the offer because I'm an awesome teacher or because she doesn't want to have to look for a replacement. Either way, it's generally better for people to want you around than for them to not want you around. So I'm pleased.

Outside of the job:

A few weeks ago, I was caught in a rainstorm without an umbrella. As I stood waiting at the crosswalk, a little old lady came up next to me and wordlessly positioned herself so that her umbrella covered the both of us. She escorted me across the street.

At a street festival, while I was making crafts at the children's table (What? I know I'm not a kid, but I didn't get to make Korean children's crafts when I was a kid, so I don't feel too bad about it.), a little girl's mother handed me some of the snacks she had for her family. "Eat! Eat!" she said. I did. Only later did it occur to me that if this had happened in the U.S., I would have immediately assumed she was attempting to poison me.

When the lady at the bakery sees that I have a pocketful of change (which happens often, because I'm too embarrassed to count it out to cashiers and clerks under normal circumstances), she gestures to me that I should dump my change out on the counter and we'll count through my change together.

Strangers who only know how to say hello in English will say hello. And they will smile.

People keep telling me that Koreans can be stand-offish and difficult to get to know. Perhaps this is true. I'm too stand-offish myself to know for certain. But they are not unkind.

Oh, sure, weird and vaguely unpleasant shit has happened to me too. But mostly good things have happened.


Blogging is a narcissistic endeavor, and I can't say that I care for it very much. However, it's a decent way to let people know you are alive and happy. So I think that's all I have to say right now.

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