Each new place and experience has those things that imprint themselves on us. In a new culture, they end up being the things you’ll always remember clearly and long for years later as you travel to new places. They are the things that will make you smile and be grateful for your time spent in that place, whether you recall it as a wholly uplifting experience or not. As we prepare to leave, I have been reflecting on the best bits about this strange land and the last year in it. For me, there are 8 things that stand out as really awesome.
It’s (finally) that fantastical time of year…spring! The wonderful cherry blossoms ushered in Korean spring about two weeks ago but they are, sadly, leaving us now. The only thing that cheers me up is knowing that summer weather will not be far behind their departure. And with summer, comes beaches and slushy booze and all the things that make traveling just the best, ever.
Some things have been happening around here, all very much on the up side, though none particularly “big”. Consider this a catch-up post. I’m even gonna do you a solid and headline each section so you can just skip what doesn’t interest you. YOU’RE WELCOME.
I got a new helmet. As you can see, it’s adorable. And if you know me, you know I can’t resist adorable. I now willingly get on the bike. Never underestimate the power of cuteness, my friends, to help you overcome your fears. Cuteness can actually overcome quite the array of things, if you think about it. Cuteness and baubles. But don’t get me started on baubles, I’ll never stop. Ok, full disclosure: the other helmet didn’t really fit very well, whereas this one fits (AND LOOKS) like a dream. Was the fit the deciding factor to look for a new helmet? Yes. Was it the deciding factor to get THIS exact helmet? Also yes. Look, Koreans have huge heads, as it turns out. My little pea brain could not fit into anything else! I am not even sure…this one might be a kids helmet? (If you agree, best just to keep that thought to yourself). Ok, back to the cute thought. You there? Good. Moving on.
To celebrate my new helmet and the first days of spring, Jon and I spent an entire afternoon out on the bike, kicking around Busan, chasing cherry blossoms, taking pictures, enjoying the views, and getting lost. It was awesome and we both felt so rejuvenated after it. Also! It was my first time checking out Songdo Beach area and I LOVE it there. It’s like the older, more low-key Gwangali and I am super stoked to spend summer days there. I’ve already scoped the best drinking patio/dive bar so you know it’ll be great. There is also a whale statue IN the water, which you know is going to terrify me to the point of becoming my new summer mission: swim to that darned whale, sit on it, and get Jon to get a picture of my success. There’s a post you won’t want to miss…
Jon’s New Job
Jon got another part time job! It works in with his current schedule perfectly. The
bastard lovely man now works half as much as I do and makes slightly more moola. I *suppose* he deserves it…being a real teacher and all… 🙂
Awkward Staff Lunch
A week or two ago, my boss decided he would take us all out for lunch. I have no idea why, or if this is a normal, yearly occurrence. I was told on Friday to show up an hour earlier than usual on Monday and that was that. Let me tell you. It was the most stilted, strange ‘forced’ lunch I ever recall being on. And to be clear, it was not a “Hey! It’s Korea! Let’s have some soju!” kind of affair, which I will admit I was desperately hoping for. Instead, we all sat there between awkward silence and awkward conversation, my boss smirked at my effort to order for myself in Korean, we all got set right straight about where the cherry blossoms came from (it’s NOT Japan, in case you were wondering), we ate in mostly silence once the food arrived, and then we were given exactly three minutes to drink our after-meal coffees before we were ushered out and back to the school. WTF? I do NOT get it. Why did we do that? What was the point? Is this a normal Korean workplace interaction? Was everyone having a bad day and I did not understand amidst the language barrier? But you know what I did? I did the sitcom thing the entire time and I was giggling to myself all alone at the end of the table. Which, when you picture it (I was wearing a blue dress, my hair was down, and I was wearing red lippy if you want to get the full visual) is kinda hilarious and worthwhile in the end.
Daisy and I hosted our first book club on Saturday and it was a raving success, naturally 🙂 All but one of the girls was able to make it, and it was so nice to sit around and chitter chatter with cool females. It feels like it has been ages since I got to do that. We are already planning our next book and meeting and I’m excited to have a) new friends, b) an excuse to get drunk and talk feminism, and c) an excuse to read more books! Not that I particularly need an excuse for either of those last two, but getting drunk at home and rambling on about women’s rights to Jon while he tries to read (and I pretend to) was likely getting a little old (TO HIM).
That Lonely Feeling
Here’s my big epiphany on why I’ve felt more loneliness here than I did in Chile, but that I also recall feeling in Australia: I think it has something to do with the time difference. Your lives all happen while I’m sleeping, and vice versa. Talk about a sense of disconnect. It feels like those weekends when everyone is busy doing fun stuff and you’re stuck at one of your million jobs and you just keep feeling like you’re missing out. It’s the ultimate “missing out” feeling, replicated day after day. So, to set myself straight, I just remember that YOU’RE all missing out, too, on my awesome experience. And then I feel better. Sweet, no? 😀
This one is mostly for myself, years from now.
You have allergies! For the first time in your life you have been stuffy and headachey for three weeks straight and it sucks. You are equally hoping it is and is not your beloved cherry blossoms. Because at least if it is, the agony may be over soon. You want to write an open letter to all yearly allergy sufferers to express your feelings of empathy. But you won’t, because how would you even go about doing that?
Threat of Nuclear War
North Korea is steadily increasing their threats towards South Korea. Just today, both my students and Jon’s nicely informed us that we should leave before we all get blown up. They were only half serious. I think. I hope. But seriously, rumour has it that North Korea warned all foreigners in South Korea to leave. I am still pretty sure it’s all a lot of noise, but we are paying attention and we will leave if advised to do so by someone who is NOT insane. The Canadian government sent me a note (note? I make it sound like second period. It was an email because I am registered with them as a Canadian living abroad) to say that they think right now we are still safe but that they are aware of the situation and will notify us if they think it’s time to leave. Not to be a lemming, but no one seems concerned, so we’re mostly following suit. It’s probably best though that you be prepared for us to show up on your doorsteps with pug in hand. You know, just in case.
Muted blossom hues,
The soft pink flush of a cheek,
Settle on the breeze
The kids liked that one 😉 hahaha. I clearly did not miss my calling as a poet.
That’s all I’ve got! Oh, but to the moms out there (you know who you are), there will be a fun little surprise coming next post! (And NO, it has ZERO to do with procreation so you can just STOP that thought right there!!). 🙂 Ta-ta!