It has been an awfully long time since I posted on here. November, I believe, was the last time. When I left you last, I was undertaking my teacher training and stressed about work. Well, what has changed since then? Not a lot. I am still stressed. I am still in teacher training. But my future path may be different, dear reader. For I have made the decision to re-apply to go and teach in Korea with the EPIK Programme again. Those who read my sporadic blog posts will know that I miss Korea. I miss EFL. I miss basically everything about those glorious two years. So this should really come as no surprise.
Thinking about the future can be pretty scary. For every decision that we make, there are a thousand “What if” questions that can crop up. What if I had done this or that differently? What if I hadn’t said that, or gone there? This is as true for travel as it is anything else. My life changed dramatically when I said “What if I do apply to EPIK?”, which (if you are a regular reader) you will know I did back in 2013.
So, I have been home since January now. Nearly 6 months. Half a year. We are fast approaching a year since I left Korea. And I decided it was time for me to reflect on this. What do I think, having been out of ESL for a year now? What are my future plans?
I don’t think it is a secret to anyone that since leaving the world of ESL I haven’t coped with life in the West that well. Although I loved being in Canada, I couldn’t work there so that was never going to be a long term solution. Montreal is a fantastic place to be (Marta is currently back there, and although it isn’t in the best of circumstances, even she can’t deny it is a great place). The people I met in Canada were friendly and treated me well. But most importantly – it wasn’t “home”.
The biggest feeling I have had since leaving Korea all those months ago is one of not really belonging anymore. Home, or what was once home, doesn’t feel like it for me. At first, I assumed it was simply reverse culture-shock.. But after a year, and still feeling the same, I know that isn’t the case. I am a traveler at heart and being at home provides me with no adventure. I get up everyday, like many, and go through the motions. But I have seen a glimpse of something different and now there is no going back. I took the red pill, and leapt down the rabbit hole.
But in doing so, I discovered something wonderful. I discovered friends I never would have met otherwise who mean the world to me now. I discovered a way of doing a job that brings you joy everyday. A job that is always different, challenging but extremely rewarding. A way of life that is unique and a wonderful community of people to share that with. Given my chance to do the last year over, I wouldn’t change much. But if I had to make one change, it would be never leaving the world of ESL.
I miss it everyday, and though I enjoy my job now, it isn’t anywhere near what I felt doing ESL. I miss my friends, my little apartment. The ajumma at the corner store who gave me tomatoes one summer day because she had some spare. The ajusshi who ran a local glasses store, and provided Marta and I with the same service a year later. I miss coffees overlooking the city of Cheongju. I miss brunch with TJ. The smiles of my kids as they finally got that word right they’d been struggling with. Their enthusiasm for Sports Day. I miss never knowing what was going on.
I miss the life of the expat.
And friends – as great as it is being home, I count everyday down as one less until I can leave again. Once the travel bug bites you, and you experience that life, I honestly don’t think you can happily do anything else.
As a wiser person than I said, “I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”
Being a teacher is a strange thing. You see the same kids week-in and week-out for most of the year. You know there are far too many for you to remember their names. In the case of Korea, I feel like it is hard to build a relationship between myself and my students (language being an obvious barrier). And then, their graduation arrives. Those boys you have seen grow into young men are finally leaving to go make a mark in the world. And you feel sad.
So, once again I must begin by apologising for not posting regularly to this blog. If you have seen any of my previous posts, you will know the past week or so has been a pretty turbulent time in my life. To sum it up, I got food poisoning and then one of my best friends was in a bus accident. This means I have spent much of my spare time in the last week visiting her and making sure she is OK. Luckily, she is now doing much better and this means I have some spare time to post.
But, I hear you ask with anticipation, what else have you been doing? Well, I started my winter camp last week. This year I themed it around Harry Potter. I am not sure how into it my students are (they seem to switch between utter disinterest to intense rivalry and excitement) but I am loving it. So far, we have done Transfiguration, Defence Against The Dark Arts, Care of Magical Creatures and History of Magic. Origami was one of my most popular activities and on Monday, my boys are going to finish making unicorns. I also do a teacher’s camp, in which we read articles from Breaking News ESL and discuss the issues involved. We have covered everything from economics to religion so far and my co-teachers seem to really enjoy it.
I have also returned to my first true love – the Mod movement. I assume most people don’t know what this is but basically it was a youth subculture in the 1960s in Britain. I first got into it when I was 16 years old but have spent the last year or so drifting backwards and forwards from it. I am not sure what it was – nostalgia, a feeling of belonging or just the fact that Mod is one of the best things to ever happen to the world but currently I am absolutely fascinated by it again. It is nice to feel passionate about an interest. I feel my life has lacked this recently.
Anyway, that is it from me this time. For further reading on Mods, check out Wikipedia or Modculture.co.uk. Both of these should satisfy any curiosity you have.