Sunday, November 18, 2012

Happy One Year Anniversary, Zannah & Korea!

This weekend marks one year in Korea. I left Oklahoma on the 18th of November and arrived in Korea on the 19th. One whole year. Dang.

It's odd to sit and think about this past year because it doesn't feel like much time has passed at all. The days and weeks fly by, making this anniversary seem... strange. I'm not sure what it is about the nature of my life here, but I honestly have no idea where the time has gone. Maybe it's working late hours... Or the fact that most weekends are so packed full of running around Seoul, going to festivals and shopping and seeing friends and eating good food. It seems like as soon as a week begins, it's already ending, and I'm sitting there thinking, "Where the hell did this week go?"

I've seen on Facebook that a number of people I trained with are going home soon, with the end of this term marking the completion of their contracts. Since I don't know how this past year has gone by already, I can't fathom leaving Korea at this point in my life.

As many of you know, I've signed another contract with my school. With this new contract, I'll be here through August of 2014, with a three month break at the end of February to mid-May 2012 so I can go home for a visit. After that... I have no idea what I'll be doing. And that's fine. Maybe I'll stay in Korea longer. Maybe I'll come home. Maybe I'll go teach in a different country. Maybe I'll go back to school. But as of now, I couldn't be happier. Korea has been an incredible experience so far, and I think the fact that this year has passed so quickly is just further evidence that this is the right place for me right now. Clearly, I'm enjoying my time here.

My job is still great -- I do really love teaching and trying it out here has made me more certain that it's a career I want to pursue back home. I'm exceptionally lucky because I work for and with good people, which is a large part of why I'm resigning at my particular school. I enjoy the classes I teach and the daily challenges that come from teaching ESL. I know this job is, in many ways, much easier than a teaching job back home, but I still feel like I'm learning and growing from this experience.

Living in Korea in general has been so much better than I'd anticipated. Before coming here, everyone I talked to assured me I would love it. Various blogs that I read said wonderful things about living here. Even with all of that, I don't think I was really ready for how much I would fall in love with this country. The people, the culture, the food, the fashion, the travel... It's amazing. And I feel like I've barely seen or done anything this past year! My Korea to-do list is still intimidatingly lengthy.

My first weekend here, I caught a little bit of the Seoul Lantern Festival, and last night, I returned to the same spot to see this year's lantern display. It felt funny, being there again almost exactly one year later. Last year, I barely remember the festival because that first weekend (and following week) was such a stressed-emotional-jetlagged haze. I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and had no idea where I was. This time was the complete opposite, and it was a nice feeling.

I've been thinking about this blog entry for the past week or so, trying to figure out what I wanted to say about the completion of my first year here. Basically, it comes down to: Korea is awesome, living here is awesome, so I'm really happy that I'm staying longer. (But also really excited to come home for a visit soon, duh.) The end.

ps. Quite a few blog entries in draft-mode right now that will be posted soon, such as:

  • Everything Has Faces: A Photo Essay
  • How-to: Eat Korean Food, Volume Two
  • Observations About South Korea, Volume Four
  • Dear Korea, Sometimes You Baffle Me
  • How-to: Eat Korean Junk Food (An Expert's Advice)
  • Surviving the Holiday Blues