the first days

Sketch of Every Night

Where I’m to be found every night…

I wrote this about a week after I came, so not all of it is still true, but here are fresh memories of after I just arrived, and how I was feeling and what I was thinking.


I have come to Korea.

Before I left, I heard a lot of things like “Boss, Courageous, Totally Brave.” It doesn’t feel brave, to be honest. Those words hit me and fell off like nothing. I didn’t feel encouraged, I felt a bit of a sham. “It’s not brave!” I wanted to tell them. It’s not brave to go back to the side of the world where I don’t feel judged and am not pressured to conform to society. Teaching is easy for me; it would be braver and harder for me to stay in America and go through the twists and turns to get a job; Master’s, recruiters, networking, entry-levels…Maybe, on that path, money would come more quickly, but I’ve never yearned for wealth. I yearn for peace and comfort, and teaching in Korea gives me that. Or it will. It’s too new yet to be peaceful or comforting.

I arrived five days ago. I had one full day of rest to clean and organize and unpack, then it was right to work. Which is good. By Sunday afternoon I was lying on my bed trying to figure out whether to read more or just listen to music. Life without internet stretches.

I’m so incredibly lucky in my arrangement. I have a friend in my building who works with me, so she’s been able to show me to school, show me the grocery store, lend me toilet paper, and generally transition me smoothly. I thought about what would have happened if I didn’t have her and I think I might have panicked. It would have been terrible. Much braver for those who come and don’t have that support in place.

As it is, I feel like my path has always been just a little different. Not totally unique, of course, but always outside the mainstream. In America, my circle of friends are not in Asia. They are in retail or other jobs or still in college looking at business jobs, worrying about boyfriends and gas prices and finding the right vase at Ikea. And I was looking to Korea the whole time, finding it hard to relate and not feeling comfortable sharing all my excitement and fears. Among those who do go to Korea, most go through EPIK or another program first. Or they find a job at a Hagwon. I think this job at an intercultural Christian school is unusual. Perhaps it only feels that way. Either way, I’m lucky. I have a friend at my school. All my students and co-workers speak English. I’m even sharing 3rd grade with my friend, so we’re lesson planning together. I mean, could I get any luckier? I feel embarrassed. I have it so easy compared to what others have to do. But I thank God and accept it and do the best I can.


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