I’m working as a teacher, but if I’m doing one thing here in Korea, it’s learning. There’s always a new word, new food or new cultural observation that could inspire an entire 20-page essay. I have so much material to write about but all of that inspiration is certainly a distraction from putting pen to paper.
Right now I am trying to spend as much time as possible living my life instead of sitting and writing about it. Last weekend I made my way to the top of one of Daegu’s most beautiful places: Palgongsan mountain. My friend and I took the cable car up the mountain to catch a glimpse of the changing fall leaves. This was the view from our lounging spot on a giant rock at the top of the mountain.
We also ate a picnic lunch in this cozy little tree house on the top of the mountain. Our lunch was interrupted by an older man who was hiking with his wife and another couple. He came over to our table and offered us sliced apples off of a tuperware container cover. I enjoy remembering little moments like the apple man.
I also took a 45 minute train ride to a nearby, historical city named Gyeongju to support my students at their T-ball tournament. After asking around, I discovered that it’s pretty unusual for middle school students to play T-ball in Korea. In any event, there were teams from all over the country at the tournament and our team took third place!
I was so proud of them and it was fun to sit in the student cheering section. (About 100 students came to watch!) I probably should have sat with my Principal and the other teachers – but I opted to cheer along with the students.
The second problem with blogging while living abroad is that I’ve realized that this lifestyle is demanding. Especially because I couldn’t speak, read or write a word of Korean before I arrived.
I have a lot of things going on in my life that I need to delicately balance. I have to spend enough time lesson-planning and preparing for class, I am trying to memorize 350+ of my students’ names, I am trying to be a good host-daughter and spend enough time with my host-family, I am trying to learn Korean, I am trying to meet new people and make new friends, I am trying to stay in touch with my old friends and my family, I am trying to stay fit and healthy, I am trying to take it all in. You can imagine all of that stuff starts to pile up and suffocate you.
I love the challenge. It’s why I wanted to come to Korea. I love the constant learning and the constant growing. But the reality of juggling all of these goals and interests can end up in frustration and exhaustion.
I’ll admit, I have been feeling a bit exhausted lately.
I can’t learn Korean overnight. That’s for sure. I can’t force relationships with my students. I can only continue to work my hardest to teach and support them. Truthfully, I have made progress in all of the areas I mentioned, I just haven’t made enough progress.
I’m trying to figure out how I can push myself to go even further. How I can push myself to study Korean for a few extra hours a week or how I can strengthen the relationships I have with my host-family, Korean friends, co-workers and students.
I want you all to meet a few of my students!
I teach a “conversation club” class twice a week. There are ten students in the class and we made this video as part of our video pen-pal exchange with Olson Middle School in Bloomington, MN. It’s actually the middle school that I went to back in the day. In Korea, middle school students are referred to as first, second and third graders. The club students in this video are the same age as 7th and 8th graders in the United States. My club class is FULL of characters. Watch out for one of my smart, silly, mischievous students at 2:47. I have to keep a close eye on them…
I’ve mentioned it before, but don’t be afraid to drop a line! I love hearing from friends.
Thank you for reading.