Korea Notes : Page Turning

Yes, yes, it’s been way too long. I’m not a professional at this!… Yet.

Where do I even start? I’ve always prided myself on agility in times of growth, change, and transitions. Among the ambiguity of change, there’s an urgency to peer through the fog and arrive at a new, beautiful vista. Fog rolls like thunderclouds these days, and boy do I LOVE the storms.

In my Korea Notes : week 6 post, I wrote about the balance between growth and stability. Looking back at the short time that I’ve been here in Korea, so much has already changed. It’s taken small action steps to create monumental change in my life. Any fog that’s crept in has only been able to swipe at my shadow, and each time I arrive in a new place, it gets easier and easier to breathe. There’s been three big breaths coming out of Winter and into Spring: finishing classes, moving, and getting a teaching job.

Initially, I planned to be here for my Korean language program and then see if working was possible. That three month period came really fast! I was glad to be done with school. That routine and lack of income was getting monotonous for me. I love learning, but the student life is not really for me. That being said, from where I started to where I ended up, I feel really satisfied with what Korean I learned. Being able to at the very least read, listen, and communicate basically eases so much of my inner anxiety about my interactions here.

And of course, when I ask for less monotony, I put my foot in my mouth a little bit. Sure, I wanted some change, but I was not prepared for change that I didn’t expect (anyone relate?). I forget the amount of work it takes to physically move to a new living space.

I also forgot how significant it is emotionally and mentally to move to a new living space. I also forgot how emotionally draining interviewing for jobs is for me. Yes, upon the end of school (from which I was a rocket ship launching… back down to earth). From Feb. 12-20, I interviewed with three recruiters and five different schools all over Seoul. I had five contracts and decided on one on Feb. 21, on a short ski trip with friends. The following week, I had training at my new school, an hour commute from my Goshiwon in Anam, and didn’t move into my new apartment (2 minutes from school) until the end of the week – Feb. 29.

Needless to say, it was indeed a big leap. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Even then, with leaping comes momentum, and I wasn’t going to fall. Turns out the week of classroom supervising and attending the previous year’s graduation ceremony was cut short by something called… Corona Virus. My week training turned into two days of scattered training and three days of half-planning, half-crashing into a classroom. Starting March 1st changed to starting March 16. Starting March 16 changed into starting April 1. “Make sure to wear a mask to school.”, “The US seems to have run out of toilet paper all together.”, and “How much did you get done today? … Get ‘done?” become my everyday.

Okay, backtracking, it is overwhelming, isn’t it? (See why I’ve been behind?)

I’m working at a Canadian English immersion kindergarten and elementary school in Songpa-gu, Seoul. I have a kindergarten class of 10 students that I’ll be teaching. It’s a very Western-style school. If you took a school back home and put it here and turned up the parent pressure three or four notches, that’d be Maple Bear. Each class has a foreign teacher and a Korean co-teacher to help with parent contact and as an extra set of eyes in the classroom. The kids are adorable, we get lunches made for us, and I get off work at 6pm. My commute is a two or three minute walk. I’m very close to Olympic Park, and the area that I’m in is very nice and has pretty much anything I need.

My housing is provided by the school, which is really nice, and I’m extremely glad to be out of my tiny Goshiwon and into a more comfortable living space. I’m pretty low maintenance, but it’s SO NICE to have my own kitchen again.

Things are settled for sure, now. My work schedule is light, I’ve been writing a lot. I’m comfortable, but need essentials at my new place (some chairs, a shelf, a small rug, a food waste bin, etc.). I’ve made good connections with my coworkers and am starting to explore my new area, finding where the best street food kiosks are, which produce stand has the nicest old ladies, and which coffee shops I like best. These days, I’m very present and paying attention to gratitude that I have in my current situation.


Most strikingly, I’m feeling really sensitive to my own and others’ vulnerability right now. Intentional relationships and love for vulnerability are very much at the forefront of what’s happening around me. I’ve been approaching it all with curiosity, tenderness, and openness to the compassion that I have for myself and others.

The new place, situation, and job (income!) are all vital to my success, but to my core, this vulnerability makes me feel very much at home and very much like I am carving out my Belonging once again. Being in a new space to lovingly embrace this part of me in new contexts is new air in my lungs, new rhythms for my heart to beat along with.

Sending much love, as always,

writing about my birth search soon – stay tuned,

kerl

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