From the moment that I put in my 30 days notice (April 19th), I have been looking at things here a lot differently - especially the little things. Most of the little things here have made the biggest impact on the flavor of life here. I don't want to forget them. Like the random dirty glass jar of sausages in the hallway of my apartment complex. Its a giant jar of preserved sausage links in a dark yellowy-brown liquid hanging out in the hallway. It has been in the hallway of my complex since I got here in November - weirding me out every time I walked past it. About a week ago someone took the parchment paper off the top of the jar and a couple of flyers have dropped in....it has become marginally less weird and wayyyy more disgusting.
The day I wrote this blog in my journal was May 5th - Children's Day. Children's day is a national holiday in Korea, so we all got the day off of work. I decided to go to the park across from my apartment laying under a blossoming crab apple tree. My childhood neighbors, the Cockriels, have a crabapple tree bordering the property of my parents house. Every spring the old tree turns into a froth of pink and white petals, but I was under no misconceptions that I was back at home. As I wrote in my journal, petals kept floating down and covering the page where I was trying to write. Three young boys were playing soccer near me and the Hangul being spoken was blurring into background of the day.
As beautiful as I find this country, it's very lonely . The country has 48 and a half million people jam packed into a piece of land the approximate size of Indiana. There are people all around me every day, but I can't communicate with any of them. My only friends here are my co-workers - coincidentally, they are generally the only people who can speak English with any sort of fluency. Most days, I only get to converse with people between 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. I can understand that the feeling of isolation would be difficult to imagine for those at home, but I think that this is why it is so easy for foreigners to strike up conversations with the random people we meet on buses or trains. We are literally hungry for connections, as superficial as most of them might be.
Within the past few weeks, Korea has become a place that I barely recognize. All the trees have flowered and brought out their leaves. The air smells alive and it is so warm now that I can skip outside without a coat! Maybe the transition here would have been so tough if the weather had been better when I got here.
I started running again. A whole month off. I feel like I am starting all over again, but I enjoy the sights I am seeing. My route out to the rice fields has gotten MUCH greener, and its nice to run into the wind and not feel like it is cutting me into pieces. The carp are mating in the Tongbok. I tried not to stop and stare at first, but I was glad to see that the Koreans are just as fascinated with it as I am. Its like the Discovery channel is in front of me. On my runs, I see people hanging out out at the banks of the stream watching the water thrashing wildly. The gnats are out too. On my way out yesterday, I ran straight into a giant cloud of them. I spent the next five minutes trying to rub them out of my eyes. On my way back in, I ducked my head down to keep them out of my face and watched them literally bouncing off my white shirt. When I blew my nose later that night, I found one in my tissue. Awesome.
I can't wait to come home. Pretty obvious, I know, but it is becoming a little bit of a problem. I dream about going home at night. I day dream about going home during the day. I spend my time after work looking for things to do in Kansas city and possible teaching positions.
Oooh Bonus Update! I got an interview opportunity! Turner Middle School. It is definitely a long shot, but even getting an interview in this economy feels like a coup. I signed up with the KEEB (Kansas Education Employment Board) and found out that for the entire state of Kansas, there are only 500 ish teaching jobs posted (elementary through high school) and there are 22,000 applicants vying for them. Man, I love those odds. Makes it more of a challenge....erm......yes.....this is what I keep telling myself.
Flight is scheduled for the 20th. See you then!