It's Sunday afternoon/early evening here and I am relishing in my solitude. Tis a sweet thing. Until you get so frustrated with eblogger you consider punching through yr thin, papery Korean apartment wall. ANYWAY...sorry.
I've been in South Korea for not quite 3 weeks and already have the week off because of an ancestral holiday called Chuseok. Which is actually a pretty sweet holiday: a sort of harvest festival where Koreans return to their hometowns, paying respect to the spirits of their ancestors. And eat delicious food. Makes me think about all the Dia de los Muertos-ness I see around Austin, and essentially how cool it is there are holidays where people just sit around to eat and drink and think about loved ones who have come and gone. Embracing death in remembrance via soju or tequila seems like a great tradition to me. I'll explain soju soon enough...
So although Busan is the official spelling of this city, it used to be Pusan and is still pronounced that way by Koreans, so I'll refer to it as that here. There are 15 gu's (districts) in Pusan, and I live in Buk-gu, Hwamyeong-dong. It's kind of in the suburbs, the northwest part of Pusan and is about 45 minutes downtown by subway. It's a pretty chill area but I like it and there is still stuff to do. The school I work at is literally across the street from the apartment so I have no complaints. If there's one thing I've learned about myself, it's that I always want to be a bike ride away from work. Preferably no more than a 15 minute ride, hahaha.
Apparently we came at the end of the rainy season, which is SWEET because I met this girl the other day who told me she was walking to work every day and had to bring a change of clothes and shoes. She was drenched after a ten minute walk, with an umbrella and rain boats. I said, "that sounds really lame" and then whispered "thank GAWD" to myself at my fortune. Cross that bridge when I come to it next summer, ah-thank you. Point being, the weather's been awesome here and hasn't even really been cool at night yet. I have to say, coming from the freaking 110 degree heat in Austin I am looking forward to having seasons again. Just like ol' times, Indiana. But please shut yr mouth and don't remind me I said that when I start complaining about winter every 2 minutes. hahahaha
Got here on Wednesday night the 1st and had 2 days of teacher "training," which consisted the 1st day of me shadowing one of the teacher's who was leaving. The second day "training" was me teaching 4 out of 5 classes. Training must translate into "just do it" in Korean. The following Monday, I officially started the teaching gig solo. It's amazing to me how good the kids are. The "bad" ones just like to talk and laugh more than the others but even then, they're not running around the classroom, laying on the floor, or dancing like strippers. Those of you who have heard my kid stories will take my word for it: these Koreans are heavenly. Although I can't say I don't miss the colorful anecdotes of a day spent at Kealing Middle School. The "bad" ones have also been my favorites and make me laugh the most. I love you, Cheyenne.
All in all, my only complaint about teaching so far is how TERRIBLE the curriculum is. I feel like a robot and can't believe such useless books are published and used to teach English to ANYONE. I want to beat my head against a wall when going over lessons for the day. I'm trying to get the creative juices flowing here so these kids can actually benefit from their time in my class. There is going to be a lot of improvisation this year but it'll be good. It'll at least make me better at what I'm doing. These poor kids are in school alllll day and then go to Academy until 9 o'clock at night. Can't even imagine. It gives me a lot of compassion, patience and gentleness, when they're difficult or when they're not.
I've had moments the last few days where I'm standing on a street corner, looking around (trying not to be blinded by neon crosses), and realizing where I am. It feels pretty damn good. The transition has been light and I'm loving the feeling of being somewhere new. Getting that knot in my stomach that has to be the excitement of catching the travel bug. I'm afraid it may be a permanent virus, hahaha. There's so much more to be said, but would unfortunately turn this one entry into a short novel. I promise plentiful albeit briefer posts and will leave you by referring to the title of this post. The English translations on the tee-shirts Koreans wear are amazing and often seem strangely philosophical. My student Conan (yes, he picked that name) was wearing this shirt the other day. Not here, go to the title, hahaha.
"A good traveler has no fixed plan, and is not intent on arriving." Lao-Tzu, The Way of Life