THE KOREA KRONICLES, PART XI: Moving On Up, and Other Recent Developments

The New ViewThis past weekend, my fellow teachers and I finally moved into our new dorms (see my new view at right). This is a move I’d been expecting since I first arrived in Korea. Before I even began working at Daegu Gyeongbuk English Village, I’d been told not to settle in too snugly in the teacher’s dormitory as, in April, we’d be moving into fancy new dorms that were secluded from the main campus and, by extension, from the children that overrun it five days out of the week. So April turned into July, big deal. The point is, we’ve moved, and the new place is spectacular. I mean, even the old dorms were way better than anything ORU was able to slap together or hold together with duct tape, but my new address is, minus a few to-be-expected bugs to be worked out, without a doubt the nicest dormitory I’ve ever seen.

THE NEW DIGS

After a grueling Friday afternoon move, the rest of the evening was spent settling into my new room. At this point, there’s something I should point out about Korea: sometimes, Koreans do things that make no rational sense whatsoever. It’s an aspect of their culture that I’m still struggling to understand but the American/Western concepts of foreplanning, risk assessment, and measured introduction of new systems and procedures to allow time to work out bugs and kinks exist to a far lesser degree in Korea. Suffice it to say that the move involved a lot more insanity than was even remotely necessary and it was the first time since being here that I legitimately had to struggle to be culturally sensitive. Anyway, that’s all water under the bridge–lookie-lookie at my new little home!

The New Room

The Bathroom

The new teacher common facilities are super nice, too. The biggest selling point for me is that we no longer have to eat in the same room with the kids because, let’s be honest, I love kids even more when I don’t have to be around them every waking minute of the day.

Faculty Lounge

Teacher Dining Room Cafeteria

So, that’s pretty cool. I no longer feel like I live at work, even though I technically still do. What’s magical is that no children live on our floor, ever, at any time. While they might be below us during busier weeks, they are finally out of our hair after teaching hours are over. That’s a great, great thing.

NEW ADVENTURES ON THE HORIZON

With my first week-long vacation coming up in September, I’ve been debating what to do with it. I’ve been to Seoul, and while I loved it, and while I only saw a fraction of it when I was there, all cities look the same to me. The thought of spending a week bouncing around Seoul seems unbelievably boring, as does camping out in Busan. A city is a city. You’ve seen one, you’ve pretty much seen them all (with a few exceptions: Istanbul, Jerusalem, and Prague, just you wait–I’m coming for you). No, what I hope to do is something much more interesting.

Some of you may know that I am deeply fascinated by and attracted to Mongolia. I have no idea why and I guess I’m just going to have to go and find out why it enchants me so. With any luck, I’ll spend a week in September hanging out with a traditional Mongolian family and (please, please, Lord Jesus) horseback riding across the steppes. I want to see some wilderness and meet cool new people. I want to see rivers, and mountains, and ride a dromedary across the Gobi. Mongolians have to be some of the toughest people on Earth to live where they do and that makes me want to meet them all the more.

I’ve already arranged to counchsurf with someone in Ulaanbaatar and hopefully this person will be able to connect me someone who does horseback riding tours. I’ll keep you posted.

IS THERE REALLY SUCH A THING AS AN ENDING?

Aren’t all endings just the beginning of something new? Yes, and you can stop reminding me, too. This week marks the beginning of my sixth month of living in Korea, which means I’m fast approaching the halfway point. Not surprisingly, this is one of those glass-half-empty-glass-half-fulls scenarios. On the one hand, I’m very proud of how well I’ve managed to settle in to a new job in a new country. So much so, in fact, that it’s actually become a bit boring for me to blog about it. On the other, I’m increasingly aware of how very not far away the end of this particular chapter of my life is. Soon, it’ll become an imperative that I find a new thing to do, although that’s a much less formidable prospect now than it was a year ago. I mean, I packed up my shit and moved to Asia to teach English to kids. If I can handle that, I’m not sure what I can’t handle. All I do know is that I have next to no desire to return to the States. The world is just too damn big and my little taste of it in Korea has served only to whet my appetite for the rest.IMG_0194

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