Tuesday, August 25, 2015

To RENEW or not to RENEW. That is the question.


So the renewal docs came through the school system. Standard procedure is a native teacher is given the renewal docs about four months before the end of the contract. We are asked to request to either transfer, renew or only complete our contract.  The thoughts of renewing and staying an extra year in this country, really had my stomach twisted into knots.

On the one hand, I need the money/job.

On the other hand, the crippling isolation and loneliness can be overwhelming, even for the strongest individual. It is not just the people I miss. I miss being able to easily navigate my way through various systems. The medical, educational, transit, restaurant and grocery systems are all extremely difficult when you 1) do not know the language and 2) stand out like an exotic giraffe (a cute giraffe).
There have been many nights of crying into my pillow from frustration and loneliness.

I thought long and hard and weighed the pros and cons of renewing for another year. I know that if I choose to stay here, I will have to continue stepping out of my box and travel and meet more people. I will also have to learn more Hangul in order to better navigate the various systems.


In the end I chose to renew. The economic situation in my country has not improved as much as the media is hyping. I love my students and the school staff is courteous and nice to me.  I signed the renewal docs and will mentally prepare myself for another year. In order to remain grateful for this opportunity, I will choose to put myself out-there in order to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I need a drink, LOL.

Rice cake anyone?

My co-teacher made it a point to tell me that the school was not taking money out of my bank account for my lunch during the winter break. I could not understand why the administrative staff had not asked me for a collection for the lunches we have been eating in the admin office for the past few weeks. To thank them, I had a friend order a really pretty rice cake for the staff. It was decorated beautifully and even had a layer of packaged rice cake between the layers. The staff enjoyed it and it made me happy to see them happily enjoying the rice cake.

(smile) I am relearning how to live within a community, y'all.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Finally!!! I saw mermaids!!!

Real life mermaids in Jeju-do!

I have been wanting to meet the "Korean mermaids" (hanyeos) since I saw a youtube documentary that showed these amazing women and their legacy. I am inspired by them and have added them to my list of "she-roes". The mermaids are senior citizen scuba divers who dive with no equipment to collect sea food on the bottom of the ocean floor.   They do this to raise their families and send their children to school. The Korean mermaids are dying off and their daughters are choosing not to follow in their foot steps. Once these strong beautiful old women die off so will their amazing legacy.
The documentary on youtube is less than an hour. Check it out and learn about these strong senior citizens who learned how to adapt and survive.

I love how they swim to the bottom of the ocean and come up as angels!

They remind me every day in So Ko that if life knocks you to your knees, swim to the bottom of the ocean and then (choose to) come up for air!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Playing in fresh mountain spring water

This weekend, my girlfriend and I found a wonderful water/valley spot that Korean families go to in order to beat the hot and hazy days of the last weeks of summer.
We had to take two buses. The second one climbed a mountain past my travel school in Chudong. The bus was crowded with teenagers, hands full of water toys, eager to splash in the cool waters with their friends. When we finally found the spot, even though it was 9am on a Saturday, the place was already packed with families, food and drinks in hand, ready to enjoy fresh water from the mountains.

Take a look. We had sooooo much fun!