Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Going Home Early

...but this time not because I'm sick! Not that I wound up going home from that, after all, but that's another story.

Turns out, the school doesn't want to file for visa extensions so that we native English teachers can finish out our contracts. So they're sending us home about five days early. Now, some schools do this with the express intent of shafting their teachers out of severance pay due to a legal loophole that lets them say, "YOU DIDN'T FINISH YOUR CONTRACT SO NOW WE KEEP YOUR MONEY HAHAHAHA SUCKERS!" But as we've been told, expressly, that we WILL be getting severance along with our last month's pay, and the school has mostly operated in good faith with us up to this point, I have confidence they will follow through.

If not, I know some numbers and people to call that will get them in a lot of trouble with the Labor Board. :|

We'll also be filing for our pension refunds, which is another nice chunk of change, so I'll be coming home with a decent cushion of money even though I was unable to save much. Between living expenses and paying off debts at home, I have managed to save... essentially nothing. But, hey! I was paying off student loans that were otherwise going into default, so that's something. Also I paid off the computer that I'm currently using to blog, so that's another tick off the to-do list. It's progress. I'm not complaining.

If all goes as planned, I should be getting a flight home on September 24th, which is on a Saturday. Meaning my boyfriend Chris won't have to take time off work to get me from the airport and spend some quality snuggle time with me. Bonus!

As promised, I will continue to update this blog with photos and whatnot from Korea even after I return home, until I run out of things to post. And then it will sit here, gathering dust, an archive to a time in my life when I lived all by myself on the other side of the planet for a year, teaching English to children in a country where I am a minority and my language is not the most commonly spoken. I've learned as much (if not more) than I've taught in my time here. I've learned about myself. I've learned about dealing with people I wouldn't necessarily choose to associate with, given a choice. I've learned some perspective. I've learned a little bit about being a functional adult with a steady job. I've learned so much, and yet so distressingly little, about this fascinating country and its language and people and culture. I've learned how hard it is to be away from the people and places and things that I love from home, and how surprisingly (and simultaneously) strong and weak I can be when it comes to homesickness.

I have learned that I still have a lot to learn.

But it's a good start.

See you soon,


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Oh, hello, what's this? A blog? MY blog?!

*trips over blog*

Oh! There you are. I was wondering where I'd left you. Seems I've gone and... not posted in you for a few months. Again. Sorry about that.

*dusts off the layer of neglect*

Right. So, stuff has been happening. A lot of stuff. Let me break it down in little bite-sized portions.

First off, I have WAY too many photographs to post here, and it's not an easy thing to do, so I'm going to have to find a better alternative than uploading to my Photobucket and linking here. Something a little easier to navigate and not so hard on those of you with ancient computron machines. Thus why you haven't been getting my massively picspammy posts since... well, that last one. With all the cherry blossoms. Sorry, guys. I promise, photos will be up somehow, someday, just not now or here. I'll for sure do some slideshow stuff at my welcome-back party or whatever winds up happening upon my return.

Next, a shout-out to my new friends here in Korea.
-Kevan, who has excellent taste in restaurants and beer, and who is happy to provide an extra stomach to feed when I feel like cooking. Thank you for introducing me to Frypan and that shabu-shabu place. You are a godsend.
-Jonna, Ben, Wally, Raph, Tim, Scott, and Julio of my D&D/Savage Worlds gaming group, you guys are great, I don't think I would have made it through the past few months without your wonderful company. What an incredibly satisfying game of 4e D&D we played! I am sad to see it end so soon. Also, you guys have the best snacks of any gaming group I've ever played with. THE BEST SNACKS. :|
-Michele and Sam, who have adopted me (along with their mad dog Choco) and fed me and kept me sane here in Korealand. You two are the best. So much love and kisses. XOXOXOXOXO <3
I'm going to miss you all when I go home!

So, Chris was here back at the end of April/first bit of May, and that was wonderful. Three weeks didn't seem like any time at all, though, and before I knew it I was alone in my apartment (with Gus the rabbit, but he's not really much company), missing him all over again. We spent some time with Michele and Sam, including Passover dinner on Chris' first full day in Korea, and had a bit of a jaunt in Busan (which is GORGEOUS and I wish I'd been stationed there instead), and did the touristy thing in Seoul. TONS OF PHOTOS WERE TAKEN. Not posting them here, though. Like I said, later and elsewhere. Be patient!

More recently, my good friends Hayden and Monica came to visit as well, just at the end of third semester. It was great to see them, and we did YET MORE touristy things on a budget, including visits to such must-see attractions as the Seoul Chicken Art Museum. I'm not even joking. There is photographic evidence. Their visit was more brief but nearly as action-packed as Chris'! An exhausting but wonderful time.

Regarding that fainting issue I was mentioning before, right now the best guess anyone has (including the doctors) is "it's stress-related". Awesome. Anyway, after getting on some low-dose medication to help me sleep better and reduce my stress/anxiety levels overall, the fainting seems to be under control. Hooray! Good thing such prescriptions are cheap in Korea!

(I dread returning to my lack of health insurance options in Minnesota... I'd better find a job fast, I guess.)

On the topic of jobs, I've already started applying for a few. Updated my resume and everything, even if it is a bit spartan. Hopefully, I can at the very least sniff up a few leads before I set foot on American soil once again. I'm considering applying to be a substitute teacher, since that's the only kind of teaching I'm actually qualified for in the US, and maybe working my student loans off until I can go back to school again for a proper teaching degree of some sort.

I currently have about five weeks left on my contract. Blimey, where did the time go? Feels like I just started this blog. Also feels like I just stepped off the plane, and yet at the same time, it feels I've been here far too long. I'm so very ready to come home.

Does anybody want a rabbit? Sadly, I cannot bring Gus home with me. Rabbits don't do so well on airplanes, according to my research, and that's IF I could find an airline that would allow me to take him on an international flight in-cabin with me. But since I don't have control over my flight booking, that's out of the question. It's either re-home my fuzzy little friend, or off to a shelter, and the latter idea breaks my heart.

Going to start selling off some of my things here, mostly the appliances that the school didn't provide for me. Clothes are being sorted into Keep, Ship Home, and Donate to Clothing Swap piles. Last month of classes are being planned and prepped, and I am gearing up for Mid-Terms and Evaluations which will be happening during my final week of work. It'll be jolly good fun, I'm sure.

Right before I leave, however, I get a mini-holiday. Chuseok is a major Korean holiday, and my school has decided to take that entire week off because they're awesome like that. So, I've got September 10-18th off, which is incredible. I fully intend to use that time to catch up on my sight-seeing, photography, souvenir buying, and maybe do a temple stay. I'll also probably be cleaning out the apartment as much as I can so I don't have as much to do during my final week of work.

Not sure of the exact day they'll be shipping me home, but be assured, you folks on the internets will be the first to know. And don't worry: I will continue to update this blog even after I return home, especially regarding all those photographs I'm not posting right now, and lists of things I will/won't miss about Korea. So stay tuned!