Thursday, May 3, 2012

Musings, Gaga and sunshine

So it's Children's Day in Korea tomorrow (May 5th) and the kids are running wild, being given the day off basically, allowing me the time to catch you up on what's been going down.

I've found myself struggling against my own thoughts this week. I feel like I've been in a constant fight against the homesickness and often found myself wishing to be back home and for things to be easy. On the way to school today I was really thinking about why I came here; not in the woe-is-me, whhhyyyy (screams pathetically) way, but because I think it's important to understand my motivations for being here and what that means for the journey I'm on. And the only answer I can really come up with is that I wanted to challenge myself, to really prove that I can do something like this. There was also the obvious reason of wanting to travel as much as possible. As I was waiting to be picked up for school, all these thoughts running through my head, I saw my co-teacher pull up, the biggest smile on her face for me, and instantly I knew why I was here. For all of this; the ups the downs, the people the stories, the kids and the learning (and teaching), the mountains, the food, Korea and all it has to offer. Felt I needed to start this post with that because you're on this journey with me, so you should at least get a peak into the way my mind works (won't show you too much though, you would run screaming).

So, the exciting stuff :) I found myself sitting amongst a bunch of flashing headbands and heart-shaped wands, screaming Korean youth and crazily dressed Westerners and Koreans on Friday night (April 27). Where was I? The Lady Gaga Monster Ball concert.

My friend Danielle and myself
The concert was amazing. I have to admit that I am not "gaga for Gaga" and went to the show for the experience more than for her. But I think that point was exactly what made it so great for me. She is a true performer and was there to please the crowd and spread her message of freedom, pride and let's all not give a damn attitude. And she delivered. And because I had minimal expectations, I sat back, enjoyed it, and did not feel disappointed at the end.

We were far from the stage but the effects were still great!
Seoul did not end there for me though. The next day was spent shopping in Myeongdong, the most popular shopping district, and I was able to find some nice summer clothes and....wait for long awaited iPad!! I felt a bit insecure buying something so big (I may have gone home and curled up in the fetal position, questioning my choice), but I've wanted one for ages and decided to treat myself (I will admit that I wouldn't have gone through with it before getting a little reassurance from my mom that I wasn't being irresponsible). We left Seoul that afternoon which I think is the best - travelling home on Sundays are never ideal as I feel I waste half of my day. This way I was home in Jecheon by Saturday night, ready to enjoy the rest of the weekend :)

School is going well; both my co-teachers seem to really have embraced me and we get on really well, communicating as best we can through the language barrier. Mr Jo has the same taste in music as my dad I've discovered, and have promised to give him some SA music to listen to. My kids are fun, although I must admit I am starting to doubt whether I can hold their attention for the rest of the year. There are only so many times we can play Super Mario and Pass the Ball. A few of the men at both my schools seem to have a little bit of an attitude towards me, some pretty much refusing to acknowledge my presence which is hard and has bugged me a little bit this week but it's something I just need to take in my stride. Maybe it is in my head too. This post was interpreted by an 'excuse me' from one of the teachers. I don't think I've explained this yet; I work in the main office and staff room, and the desks are arranged in the middle with the school secretary to my left, Vice Principle to my right and art teacher opposite me. So I don't have my own classroom or own office. I like it sometimes because people are always around, but sometimes I wish I could put some music on, eat something, take a nap or Facebook stalk in peace ;) But I digress. This teacher (I was never told anyone's names and just call everyone teacher - but I do want to find a way to learn all their names) I refer to as 'Lovely-Teacher' when I speak to my family. She had called me over for some bread/cake thing and conversation. She really is lovely, often taking me for a walk around the school grounds to stretch my legs and her English is great so we have full conversations which I love. She is just another example of Korea taking me in her arms and letting me know I can make it here :)

Here are some pictures of the school hike we went on (April 27).

The 4th grade class - my best ;)

The art teacher and myself - we also manage to have great conversations :)

A shot of the valley in which my school is located. I work in an amazing area!

I had a very weird experience yesterday. I walked into my apartment and as I stepped into the bathroom I realised that stuff had been moved; my shower shoes had been used, my bucket and other bathroom appliances were not where I left them. Someone had been in my apartment. I can only think that they had to fix or check something as the floor was wet, and although  I know there was no malice to the visit, it shocked me. I had left my iPad out, laptop, clothes etc. Nothing was taken (as a South African, this is the first thing I checked) and that was the most surprising part. So although I felt like my privacy had been invaded and still think I should be informed if people will be in my apartment, I was reminded that back home, this would have been a very different and much more upsetting experience.

Best news of all is that it looks like my family will definitely be visiting me at the end of June - I am beyond excited and have gone full travel agent on them, checking out love motels etc for them to stay in and planning their itinerary in my head. I do hope they are prepared for all that Korea has to offer ;)

This weekend I'm off on a 5-hour hike (knowing me, this will be a whole day event and search parties should only be sent out after the 9th hour) in Danyang.

Mt Sobaeksan is part of the Korea National park

Hopefully I will make it here :P

The hike will be followed by a lekker braai with Danielle and her South African neighbour and some other Saffas, so am really looking forward to that. And Sunday will be spent on the roof of a friends house, for a girly day filled with nail polish and gossip. Bliss.

The more I sit here and type this out, the more I want the weekend to come already. So goodbye friends, hope you enjoyed the post (note the pictures!!) and have a rad weekend.

Lots of Korean hugs and kisses

1 comment:

  1. Awesome Bron, your writing is truly excellent. I hope the braai lived up to expectations! :)