Doing Something About It

I’ve decided that while I’m going through this homesickness, I’m going to try and make a list of all the things I like about Korea.  I’m going to try and make this an on-going list, so I’ll come back and update from time to time.
Note:  Keep in mind that I’ve been going through homesickness and my outlook right now is a bit bitter, so I’ll try to update when I’m on an upswing on my mood.

Things I like About Life in South Korea
*Getting an entire case of strawberries from the fruit seller guy on the corner…for less than $5.  (It’s 5,000 Won)

*The landscape/scenery/natural beauty of the country  (love the mountains!  and how close the beach is)

*The bluntness of the people–I hear that I’m beautiful about 400x more often here than I did back home.  (at home: in bars by drunk people, my family, or just general compliments on my eyes or hair, or comments from old people)  Here: more common and very direct.  An actual “You’re beautiful.”  which…feels awesome.  Definitely better than “damnnnn girl, you fine!”  lol.
^^However, there is a huge flip-side to this.  Those jeans make you look fat?  You’ll hear about it.

*The KTX//High Speed Rail System

*My kiddos

*The fact that hugs and playing with my kids is encouraged..not shameful or something that could put you at risk for a lawsuit.

*Cheap food

*Not having to pay for gas.  (love driving, don’t like the expense…especially now that I’ve experienced what it’s like without it)

*Sending half/$1000 (a bit less than that with the fees) home each month out of my paycheck.

Breakdowns + Media Posts

Had a bit of a rough day today.  I can tell it’s been kind of a long time coming, but I had a bit of a homesickness//I-HATE-THIS-SO-MUCH kind of breakdown.
Our head-teacher is well…an interesting type of person.  Again, she’s the one that would rather us lie to the parents to save face.  Actually, I’m learning quickly that A LOT of Korea (granted, not everyone is like that) is about saving face.  Saving the reputation and making things look all cheery and wonderful.  Even if it’s not.
Not sure if I updated on the little comment book situation, but to recap–we have little comment books for each kindergartener that float back and forth between their teachers and the parents.  Good idea in theory, because the parents can be informed of what their kid is doing in class.
Anyway, one of my girls was having a hard time paying attention in class…which is fine and completely understandable…because she’s like 5 years old (western age) and it’s kindergarten…whatever.  We’re working on it.
Anyway, her mom had asked me directly (in English) how her daughter was doing in class and with the other students because she wasn’t speaking English at home.  I proceeded to use the OREO (taught that in school..heh) method (also what they use–not called OREO though) to tell the mom.  The only thing that wasn’t strictly positive in the whole entry was when I said “______ can be easily distracted in class, but she’s a very friendly and energetic young girl, and we’re working on paying attention in class.”
Which…TO ME…sound fine.  It’s constructive and tells about what’s holding her back.  The rest just said that she was young and that this all takes time and that we’re working together on also building her confidence.
Anyway-I was told to white-out that bit and write a bit of fluff about how wonderful she was.
Teacher said she “didn’t have time to hand back the books to the parents, so not to worry”–on Tuesday.  Then, today, when I was given her book back, I check to see what they had done about the white-out bit in the book….AND…they gave her a completely new book.  The old one is nowhere to be seen..completely new book and not a word about it.

YEAH.  I know.

Anyway, there’s that and just…crap from school mostly and I just lost it.  I could feel it sort of coming through most of the morning…a sort of heaviness in my chest and it felt harder to breathe.  I just kept telling myself to fight it back…don’t cry…it’s ok…it’s just a cultural thing…just focus on the class.
Lunch time came and I left with the other foreigners and we were talking about work as we left the building (we’re on an upper floor) and I just completely lost it.  Right there in the middle of the hallway leading out of the building.  The other two teachers both gave me a giant group hug and sympathized with me and gave plenty of kind and supportive words.
The homesickness just hits hard and fast, completely when you least expect it.
That’s one of the best, BEST parts about working with other foreigners.  You’re like a tight little family away from your own family.  They know exactly what I’m going through…because they’ve been there.  One of them just went through it this past winter.  It’s all part of the process, and you learn to adapt and adjust, and you help eachother along in the process.  Celebrating during the best of times and picking eachother up and supporting eachother when times get rough.
I can’t even begin to express my gratitude.  But, it’s one of those unspoken truths around here.  We’re all here for eachother.  And it’s wonderful.
As nice as it is to communicate pretty frequent contact with my family…it feels as if there’s a glass wall there.  I can see them and hear about what’s going on, but I can’t actually feel or be present in it all.  And that can be very hard.  I’m enjoying myself here though.  I’ve met great people and the money is fantastic.  And I get to travel.  It’s great.  I love, LOVE my kids and teaching…it’s just the politics of it all.

One of my co-teachers was talking with me during lunch today and she really wanted to stress to me that she thinks I’m fantastic with the kids and at teaching because I’m enthusiastic and “have the right personality for working with kids”, and she said she doesn’t want this experience (because all the schools are different…some are worse and some are better.  It’s very hit and miss) to ruin my outlook on becoming a teacher.
Look out for Number One.  (Me).
You are your first priority.
Don’t let this get to you, because it can, and they don’t give a damn if it does.  (Again, not all Koreans are like this…but as the foreigner…and as a female, you’re pretty much considered a second-class citizen.)
She also said that she thinks that there’s a bigger reason for as to why we were “chosen” to come here.  She thinks that we’re acting a bit as ambassadors and can help shape the next generation of citizens here…so that they can be prepared for living with diversity and how to treat other people.  Treat them to show respect and to have integrity so that in the future, they’ll have a chance to change the way things are.

Anyway, after lunch, I went to Zara (:-D) and did some retail therapy.  One of the few times in my life I’ve been able to do that, ha.  If you’re living check to check, retail therapy isn’t an option, unless you don’t want to eat that week.
Also, I didn’t have a lot of time because it was only a lunch break, so when I say I did some “retail therapy”, I mean that I bought 1 shirt.  haha 🙂
I also use the app for music on my phone and took out my anger and frustration on the pavement as I walked the 15 minutes to the store and then back again.  I felt refreshed when I got back, and then finished off my day.
I was tired at the end of the day, but not feeling nearly as terrible as I did at lunch.  (BTW, I’m not sick anymore, in  case you were curious.)

THEN…I went back to my apartment and saw I had a note on the door about having a package downstairs.  (They leave a note if you’re not there and then leave it with security for you to pick up).
😀 😀 😀
I got a surprise care package from my grandma…full of Easter goodies and some pretty (fake :-P) flowers.  What amazing timing.  Lots of Easter candy and a wonderful card that just made me smile from ear to ear.
Also, the envelope said “Stacey Teacher” on the front 🙂  ie: my name at school.–It’s not Miss Stacey or anything similar.  Just your first name and “Teacher” after that.  Or just “TEACHERRRRRRRRRR!!!”
heh.  I like the first one better. 🙂

Anyway, it’s been a roller coaster of a day, and it’s time for bed.

TGIF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (x4000)
Fun weekend planned.  More on that later.  Goodnight!!
And thank you for the care package Grandma!!! Love you!!! Thank you! Thank you!!!!! 🙂

Care Package pics and pics from my “shopping spree” 🙂 haha.

Classroom footage–working on our ABCs during Phonics Class on 4.11.12

LAX Airport—2.20.12

Sitting here in LAX writing my next entry on MS Word because free internet access in airports is apparently still not a real thing.
Anyway, it’s 9:55pm here (almost midnight back home) and it’s just been a complete whirlwind of a day.  That’s the weird thing about travel.  Just this morning I ws driving around a rental car and visiting my grandparents one last time and now I’m here in Los Angeles for the first time.  (side note: The little bit I’ve seen already makes me want to come back here someday soon and visit).  I really should have gotten out my camera on the plane because it was really awesome to watch LA appear out of the darkness on the plane.  The city just seemed to stretch out forever…and as we neared closer to the groun, watching the little headlights on the cars zipping through traffic, going about their lives, completely unaware that someone is watching them from the sky.  It was just beautiful.

Aside from LA, I’m also one of the like 20-non Asians that I’ve seen while in the intermational section of this airport, ha.  I know I’ll be in for a shock when I hit Korea.  Also, first impression of Asiana Airlines:  very friendly staff.  And al the flight check-in people were all young, attractive and female.

OI.  Sorry that this post is jumping around a bit, but there’s lots to talk about and my brain is feeling sort of scattered anyway.  Probably also shouldn’t go without saying that I was fighting through a breakdown earlier.  I started off in pretty good spirits…nervous, but overall, pretty excited.  It really stated to hit me on the flight from Denver to LA.  When we started descend, I guess I just realized this was my last American stop, last time being…well…comfortable.  This is my country….I know the language, the customs…and just…yeah.  I don’t really know how to describe it.  Part of me is clinging on to what I know and all that’s familiar.
It’s honestly terrifying.  There’s no getting around it.

I know it’s nerve-wracking for several reasons:
*new language…COMPLETELY new language.  There’s nothing familiar to even grasp at.  I’ve taken Spanish and Italian in school before and with that, I can sort of get a general feeling for other words based on the root…but not with this.
*New job—Um.  I’ve never been a teacher before.  What if I’m terrible at it?  What if I get fired?  etc. etc.
*Length of time–Ths is easily the longest I’ve been away from home.  My backpacking trip was for 6 weeks and that was more for the fun of it, and if I didn’t like a location, I could just leave.

It just feels very binding…and I’m scared as hell.
I know I’ll adjust and I’m feeling better now tha I got myself a bottle of ($3.50!!!) water and a sandwich ($8…wtf).  I’m trying to remind myself just to take is slow  Big, deep breaths.  This is all normal.  And to definitely cut myself some slack.  Of course moving to the other side of the planet is terrifying.  I just had a bit of a breakdown after I got off the phone with my brother (who didn’t realize that he couldn’t just call me when he wanted after this last phone call) and I tried so hard to keep myself from bawling in the middle of the airport.
Anyway, I’m doing better now, as I mentioned.  I have less than two hours til my boarding time and about 2 hours 15 minutes til departure.

Anyway, I think that’s about it for now.  Seriously hoping I can get some sleep on this flight.  Also, I’m seeing more non-Asians walking about…wonder how many of them are going to be teaching, like myself.

Currently Reading:  My Sister’s Keeper (Started reading it on my flight from STL to Denver, currently on pg 141.)

Wrapping Things Up and Special Suprises!

Had my last day of work the yesterday (it already seems like it’s been days!)…went ok..just another long night.  Turned in my keys and swipe card…and…I’m done!  Weird..but exciting.
Then today I had my going-away party from my family, and that was really great.  I loved getting to see everyone 🙂

Love.  🙂  Also, I got two more bouquets of flowers 🙂  That makes my total up to 3 now.  I also got one from one of my locations for work when I left 😀
As a single girl, it’s pretty rare to get flowers so I get really excited when I do 🙂 haha.

Allllllsoooo.  😀 😀
I had been planing a bit of a surprise for my mom and brother over the past few weeks, and I got to reveal it to them today too 🙂  I got them both to go out to lunch with me today, and I revealed their surprises then.

Yep!! Sending them both on a cruise to the Bahamas in August!! 😀  I’m so so excited and thrilled that I can give them a gift like that.  I normally have to live check to check, and I know with this next job that I’ll be able to pay it off with my first payday, so I’m so thrilled.
Neither have been on a vacation in over 10 years as far as I can remember, so this will really be great.  🙂

I was also going to update on my nightmare of a car situation, but I’m exhausted.
So…next time.

Anyway…t-minus ONE WEEK!!!  AHHHHHHHHH!!!