NOTE: This was started approximately a month ago but had been saved as a draft since then. I tried to proofread it and edit as needed, but… I don’t want to dwell on the tougher moments of life. The following may or may not include everything I was feeling at the time, but consider it a rant and an insight to some things foreign teachers may go through.
It’s about time to make the ultimate decision of whether or not I stay or go.
This is also because the relationship between my Co’s and I have become more strained than friendly for the most part. It’s more like we’re used to each other and tolerate one another but we don’t truly care about each other rather than the superficial things that displays that we’re on speaking terms. I don’t know what’s going on in their lives and vice versa. In short, I just want to get it all over with. I still like my kids a lot but because of my Co’s attitudes, nothing’s as exciting anymore. It’s coming to the point where I just don’t care, though I’m under the impression a lot of fellow GETs are in the same fix as me.
It came to something of a climax on Friday during lunch when the one Co still eating started off a conversation where she told me that she didn’t want to tell me something and it’s hard to do, but she has to (this always means it’s something that may not very pleasing to hear – it’s a Korean thing that gets on my nerves most of the time but never fails to amuse me). Honestly, if it’s hard to do and you’d rather not do it, why tell me? It’s like they just make it harder for themselves. Just spit it out.
I’ve always lived my own way. Perhaps that makes me somewhat selfish in a way, but in truth, everyone’s selfish in some capacity, shape, or form. I once read somewhere the people choose their friends through what they believe they can gain from said potential friend. Anyway, this goes into how I pretty much listen to what I want to do. This isn’t completely true, though, as some people have told me I needed to be more opinionated, but I essentially make the big decisions for myself.
As a result, the Korean society in which people care more about their reputation seriously tires and annoys me. However, I can’t ignore the ‘importance’ of reputation because honestly speaking, the notion is prevalent in varying degrees throughout the world, but especially in Asia. Because I’m currently living and working in Asia, I can’t just ignore it, especially when it’s at the root of a number of past misunderstandings between my Coteachers and I. This is a bigger problem when I’m trying to find the ultimate answer to the question of, “Will I stay here another year?”
There’s always the calm before the storm and guess what? I’m currently being buffeted around by the aforementioned storm.
I had texted my head Coteacher over the Chuseok weekend telling her I was interested in staying for another year and if there was something I had to do to get it done. She never replied and it was never mentioned in class. I took it to mean she wasn’t 100% certain I should sign on for another year – and I was right. She finally told me her thoughts a week and a half later at the urgings of my other Co – the more opinionated and openly stubborn one.
The title is a bit of a lie. Obviously, everyone gets sick at one point in their lives. It doesn’t matter when or if you only get sick once – you will get sick. This applies to Koreans, as well. However, it’s their attitude towards it that’s strikingly different and it’s something that really gets in the way between the Native teacher and the Korean teacher. On the surface, it’s fairly simple though with slight differences.
A day's dosage.
When you get sick, you can go to several places. There’s the pharmacy where you go to the counter, tell the pharmacist your symptoms, and they prescribe whatever they see fit. As you can see, this can be a problem if you don’t know much Korean. Luckily, when you’re sick, the symptoms tend to be obvious. These “over-the-counter” medications are usually in packets or in boxes, looking somewhat similar to the over-the-counter boxes of Tylenol, Advil, and other medications you can find in the States. They’re good for a beginning onslaught of some ailment.
Then, if you’re up to it or feeling a bit worse, you can visit a doctor at a clinic. Usually, the clinics tends to be grouped in the same building or area with a pharmacy located somewhere at the bottom. This requires a little more talking and they also ask for your ARC (Alien Registration Card) or ID for insurance in addition to other things like birth date and phone number. Then you see the doctor for a one-on-one consultation and here’s the catch – some may know a little bit of English, but they usually don’t. However, if you feel like you’re sick enough to merit a trip to the doctor, he might be able to tell. There’s the usual looking at the back of the throat and even a nice nostril cleaning that I had when I went to a clinic specialising in Nose, Ears, and Throat last semester. The end of this meeting results in a prescription which you will, once again, bring to the pharmacy. This time, they give you a series of individual, wax paper packets, each filled with pills and tablets of all shapes, colors, and sizes. It’s usually only enough for a couple of days (up to around five from what I’ve seen). They tell you when to take it, how, and anything else they’d like you to know, but I have no clue with the bright yellow and red pill does and that interesting triangular one boggles the mind.
It all started on a normal day, as these things tend to go.
I was walking to taekwondo and suddenly, I feel something vibrate in my bag – it was my cell phone. Who in the world would be calling me at this time, I thought, but it all made sense when I looked at the caller ID. Two days earlier, I went on a business trip to a nearby elementary school, around a 20-minute walk away from my own school, for a meeting regarding Hermes camp. It’s an English camp during the vacation sponsored by the city and various native teachers are recruited for it. Like most things in Korea, things are usually done last minute and, unsurprisingly, I’m usually the last one to find out which makes it really last minute for me. I was required to go to my kids’ class and then right afterwards, I was told that I should “probably go now” since I planned on walking.
I just got back home and I have hat hair. Yes, I know. I usually don’t wear hats. In fact, I think this is the first time I wore one for most of the day. It’s your normal baseball cap, brown in color and with the letters “AFNY” in a bold yellow across the front. It’s supposed to stand for “Air Force New York.” That makes it obviously Korean, and it is. My taekwondo instructor lent it to me for today.
See, it all started last night while he was driving to drop me off. I needed a conversation starter and what better than to ask him his plans for the weekend. I knew that taekwondo was having an outing to a waterpark today – 테딘워터파크, or Tedin Water Park, to be exact – and so I ended up asking more about it and the curious part of me asked him where it was and other random questions. He then asked me if I was going to go and I said, “maybe.” Then he spoke more about it and I said that I wanted to (I wanted to try out a Korean water park) but it might be awkward. Well, next thing I know, he told me to give him a straight up answer then and there and next thing I know, we’re bidding farewell and he reminds me to meet at the taekwondo place at 8am the next morning. And so, I woke up early this morning to walk to taekwondo and meet up with them. It occurred to me halfway there that this would include the 6 other taekwondo sessions my taekwondo place holds before mine. I wasn’t wrong. 🙂
The Map to the Park
I’m beginning to think that all the nitpicking was due to open class season. No, I know that’s not all of it as their comments do come from somewhere, but they were elevated with the things that were going on. Most of the non-homeroom teachers are done with it and though there’s always more work to do, most of the pressure is off. In order to celebrate, this post is about the good things… the things that make me think that teaching in a country where you don’t know much about anything was really a superb idea.
It’s half past ten and I’m sleepy and with a good mind to just take a shower (well, after I skim through tomorrow’s stuff) and crash. However, today was just one of those days. The days that make you rethink things or even begin to. The days that makes you wonder why you woke up in the first place, why I moved to Korea, why I decided to come here to teach of all things. This was one of those days that make me want to just collapse where I standing, pull at my hair in frustration, and do serious acts of violence all at once.
Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but it’s bad enough that I felt even halfway there because I’m someone who takes things at face value (but also overthinks things but by the time I come to a conclusion, I’ve also decided it doesn’t matter anymore) and tends to give people and things the benefit of the doubt. Things don’t normally bother me and when they do, I brush them aside or just ignore them. I guess some things just built up – not to mention that this is the last week that male coworker of mine, the one who was aiming to be my boyfriend and supplies me with episodes of Bones, will be working at my school. That means that I’ll be stuck with a bunch of female coworkers who I do like but we’re just not that close beginning next week. The whole Wall of Professionalism prevents me from being close and they only really talk to me when we’re alone or when they need something. I’m already someone who hesitates before talking to people and this really isn’t helping.
I know, I’ve had my Busan post as a draft for a while. Turns out wordpress is blocked on the school Internet. However, I really need to get this off of my chest. I’ve always had this notion that with every good thing comes a bad thing – even for the same exact idea. When I had this great relationship with my group for this end-of-year group project/paper my last semester in university, I knew something was going to happen – and something did. The ‘leader’ of the group became too bossy and anal that he was somewhat shunted out… the same guy who introduced me and another group member to a sushi place that he used to work at and got us free food and amazing discounts. The very guy who I went bowling with in the Underground thrice to relieve our boredom and procrastinate against the inevitable: going back home and forced to face the fact that I had homework.
The Korean notion of relationships had always baffled me to a point but I had thought that I had worked out most of the kinks. It’s a bit different when it involves you, though. This all has to do with how they take what other people think into consideration and that there’s this invisible – but very much present – line between males and females. Perhaps there are other factors that I’m not aware of, but those are the main things…
Like with most vacations, they all must start with a bang – and so mine did. Metaphorically, of course.
Friday night, I was out with the older people at my Taekwondo school. It was my first time out with real Koreans who have had little to no experience with other foreigners but I was optimistic, as usual. After all, what good would being pessimistic do for me? Plus, they seemed like pretty nice people and I was rather impressed. They remembered I didn’t eat meat though my comment on how I do eat some seafood was acknowledged; we had some foods and our salad totally had raw fish in it. It’s even more than some people who do know me act as they sometimes ‘forget’. I get it and I don’t blame them, but I was impressed with this group of Koreans who don’t really know English and weren’t expecting some foreigner to drop on by to take TKD lessons.
The Taekwondo Crew