I’m back in Korea. At a new school, living with a new host family, and teaching the first few classes of the semester. Clearly a blog post is in order.
At this point in the year – or at this point in any new endeavor – I don’t have much to say. I take my responsibilities as they come at me, and while I have had some expectations – since this is my second year and I now have a basis of comparison – I’m still processing everything, focused on adjusting to my various roles for the year. These roles may be the same in title (teacher, coworker, employee, host daughter, host sister) but I’m finding they differ a lot in practice.
Until next July, I am living on Yeongdo Island in Busan, teaching at Yeongdo Girls’ High School. My homestay once again has two host sisters, although the family dynamic is pretty different. Everyone seems to do their own thing and have their own busy schedules, which don’t necessarily overlap. The apartment I live in is only a 10 minute walk away from my school, much nicer than the 30 minute walk I made twice a day, to and from my homestay last year. Other than the enforced exercise, I’ve found myself really missing my previous family. I’ve been told that means we built a lot of jeong last year. To be starting anew in that regard isn’t so fun.
On the other hand at school, and upon meeting my principal and Fulbright coteacher, I was surprised at how effortlessly we began to develop relationships and hold conversations (especially during our 4 hour drive to Busan). They are both wonderful and very agreeable people that I’m pleased to be working with. While I haven’t found Yeongdo teachers very close to me in age – one teacher was actually 10 years older than I guessed her to be – they’ve been friendly and welcoming all around. And I seemed to make a splash at the teacher’s meeting when I used Korean in my introduction. I’m hoping that means non-English teachers will be less nervous about reaching out to me, although I’d still like to keep the full extent of my Korean ability a secret from students. I’ve already heard my host sister – who’s only in elementary school and quite good at English – express that “there’s no need for English” around me. Whoops.
Things are looking balanced this semester, with a fair amount of both “enjoyable” and “challenging” tossed into the mix. But as always, I’m so grateful to have family at my back, and this time, only 30 minutes away.
My aunt, cousin and I at the Lotte Department Store in Nampo. Although I like Kakao (Korea’s main messaging app) much better…this Line cafe is pretty cute.