1/2 way through my first year in Korea!

I’ve been in Korea for almost 6 months now. Recently I wrote my christmas card letter paragraph for my family’s Christmas card letter. Every year we send out a letter updating people on our lives. While writing the letter I realized 2 things: 1) I think in terms of school years when measuring “what did I do this year” and not calendar years, and 2) the majority of what I did this year has to do with moving to Korea. Which like DUH? But also it kinda took me by surprise. It also was a chance for me to like step back and examine the things that I actually want to share with people. And I realized that I haven’t done any sort of sharing on here recently at all. SO! Onwards friends.

The past month has been a very up and down sort of month. I am honestly thankful and grateful to not be in the States right now. Mostly I have the privilege of ignoring the political cluster that is happening daily there. We are largely shielded from the effects for now. After the first week I haven’t had to deal with questions or concerns in classes. Which is good. Because I’m not sure how well I would deal with them. This election feels so personally charged that I am deeply concerned about my ability to remain neutral and objective about it for my students. So mostly I try not to talk about it. Honestly the week after the election consisted of me going to work, me coming home from work, watching dancing with the stars, sleeping, and doing it all again. Occasional talking-to-my-mother breaks but that was about it. It was the only way I could deal with the election and it’s aftermath.

School itself has been busy but manageable. I have started to find my rhythm and am no longer as overwhelmed by teaching four totally different classes. I am usually planned and ready for the next day before I leave which is new for me. And I like it. I’m not always on top of my grading but I get there. We’ve been doing some interesting things in a few of my classes so that helps too. We have just a week and a half left until midterms!!! All the kids are freaking out. I’m giving 2 tests and 2 projects for midterms this semester. AP gets a cumulative test because they have to remember all of it for the AP test in May. US gets a unit test but it’s a huge unit. Plus there will be a smallish essay part to it. History through Film gets to analyze one of the songs from “Across the Universe”, it’s historical event it’s showing, and what actually happened in history. Sociology is doing a deviance mini-research project on deviant behaviors. They have to present using a powerpoint with very few words that is automatic and they don’t touch once it gets going. We’ll see how they do.

The other major thing in my life is hanging with friends. I have gotten out of the habit of salsa dancing because I’m no longer taking lessons. I’m hoping that I can get my life back together once I come back from the States in January. Mostly I hang with people on the weekends. Over Thanksgiving break my friends Megan, Zach, and I went to Nampo to do some Christmas shopping. Nampo is a little over an hour away by subway. We decided to go on the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend so we would have the whole day and still have time on the weekend to just hang out/do work. Nampo has huge markets, the fish market, and the Busan International Film Festival or BIFF. They have their own street with bronze hands! The day was thankfully not that cold and we just kinda wandered at first. It was nice to have a chance to just explore a new area of the city. We eventually found the market market and it was awesome! We got a bunch of shopping done and it was just cool to see all the different stuff for sale.

Left- One of the streets in Nampo Center- A sweatshirt that says “This watch is just thing for a wedding gift!” Right- Bronze hands!
Left- Another street in Nampo Right- My friend Zach on the street in Nampo!

After being at Nampo on Friday we came home and all crashed. Saturday I did nothing during the morning except talk to my family briefly. (This is pretty par for the course tbh). At 2 I went to help my friend Megs move apartments. Turns out the school doesn’t own the apartment she had been in and the landlord wanted to sell it. So she moved to an apartment in the same building, on the same floor, just over 4 apartments! It took like 3 trips to move the things she needed moved and then I went on a cleaning spree. I did like 10 things in the span of an hour and a half. Christmas music plus the yule log is a powerful tool. Megs, Megan, Zach, and I went out for dinner at The Wolfhound, an Irish pub, before going to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I really liked the movie! But I am also super super partial to the 1920’s aesthetic and Harry Potter so…

Last weekend was a fundraiser for Busan International Woman’s Association, which is a charity here in Busan dedicated to helping women. The NHS from my school was there to do some fundraising. It was held at the Haeundae Grand Hotel (same place as the Navy Ball) and was basically a Christmas market!!! I got a bunch more Christmas shopping done as well as having my nails painted and getting a few fake tattoos! It was a really lovely afternoon. It got my out of the house and helped me get some much needed shopping done. I also had multiple moments where my mom’s voice in my head went “Now who do we know that would want insert thing for sale here???” and then I’d find someone to buy the thing for. It was good. After the BIWA event we went to my friend Megan and Zach’s for a movie night! We made brownies, quesadillas, and nachos before watching Love Actually. It was a lovely, cozy night of hanging out with friends.

I am finally finding my groove here. I still live in a mess more often than not. I still struggle to feed myself because cooking is hard and it’s even harder when everything is in a language you don’t speak. I still am a hermit more than I should be. But I am taking walks on Mondays with Megs. I am getting a handle on my work life. I am trying to feed myself better (mostly so I can fit in all of my clothes…). I am actively getting things done on my to-do list. I AM WATCHING THINGS ON MY TV CAUSE I BOUGHT MYSELF A CHROMECAST! (In case you can’t tell this has drastically changed my life tbh) So all of that feels good.

I will be home so soon. I leave the day after midterms at horrendous-o-clock in the morning and get home later that same day after traveling for like18 hours or some horrible thing cause time zones. I’ll be home for a glorious 3 weeks. That time will include 3 solid days of family time because Christmas. A full 3 days at my log cabin up north with no internet, running water, or heat other than a log stove. And time with friends!! I am so excited to see all of you and just generally ready to be home honestly. I miss Minnesota. I do NOT miss the cold though. It has yet to snow here and I am thankful for now.

I love you and can’t wait to see you!

Left- My to-do list from last Friday Center-My friend Phil was Santa! Plus Amber and Megan Right-Megs being an Angel on the Runway! (On the main drag of Haeundae)
Left- Me being an angel on the runway Center- Megs and I sharing the love on our Monday Walk Right- Christmas tree on Haeundae Beach
Left- Selfie with the trees around the bigger tree Right-Megs just really loves Christmas ok?

PS Korea is super into secular Christmas. So there are lights and trees and nutcrackers all over the place. No mangers tho.

PPS I am getting a student teacher in March hopefully! He’s also from MN. So basically the world is tiny.

PPPS I took students to a Model UN competition last week. I’ll write a separate post about that later. :) Ok I’m done now. Probably.