Time is flying by, and it’s hard to believe that I’ve nearly been in Korea for two full months already. Things I’ve done so far:
Finished up my TESOL course. Part of the course exam was two Practical teaching days, where we went to English camps and presented lesson plans. It was nerve-wracking and exciting all at once to be finally working with kids after so many weeks of presenting lesson plans to adults that already understand the language. During the Practicals, I learned a lot about the importance of being flexible and not taking myself too seriously as a teacher. Before I knew it, it was time to graduate the course. I am so glad I decided to take the course in person, I got to meet other first-time teachers and learn useful methods for teaching ESL in a unique environment.
The course took place on Yeongjong Island, which is *technically* part of Incheon, South Korea but it’s also not the mainland, so it’s a good distance from most things. For the month we were there, we’d take an hour train ride into Seoul on the weekends and joke about how we were ‘stuck’ on an island. Looking back, it was the perfect starting ground to experience life in Korea. The island, and Unseo town in particular, is just small enough that we were able to acclimate to it quickly and comfortably. Now that I’m living in a different area altogether, riding the train for just an hour to get to Seoul doesn’t sound so bad!
The Art of Growing Old
I turned 27, my first time celebrating my birthday out of the country. It was a treat spend the day with the friends I’ve been hashtag blessed to meet since moving to Korea. All I wanted to do for my birthday was an “art museum crawl” (like a bar crawl but for art exhibits, because I am very cool) and maybe play some board games, and the day did not disappoint.
It was just by chance that I noticed a Game Cafe as we were wandering around Myeong-dong after a delicious dinner (kbbq, bulgogi, seafood jeon… plus, a surprise cake!) and everyone was game (no pun intended) to check it out with me. Once there, we found most games available were in Korean, but luckily one of us knew the game Dominion well enough to share how to play from memory. It was just a fun added challenge that the cards were in Korean! The night was completely perfect and I felt really grateful that I had the chance to wrap up my celebration playing a card game, which reminded me of spending time with my family back at home.
I don’t have much to say about my trip to Japan since it was less of a vacation and more a trip of necessity with a lot of unexpected twists that arose. That said, Japan taught me some pretty useful lessons. Such as:
- Don’t just trust hours listed online, call ahead.
- A carry-on suitcase is always better than a single backpack.
- An impromptu beach trip requires impromptu sunscreen, too.
- When it doubt, get a corn dog from 7/11.
- Buy the umbrella in the morning.
Another gem Japan gave me was a trip to a fun little modern art museum in Fukuoka that houses many great exhibits, one even featuring The Madonna of Port Lligat by Salvador Dali. I was drawn to a piece by Japanese artist Shinro Ohtake called WEB – we weren’t allowed to take pictures of it, and I can’t find any photos online, but it was a massive mixed media piece crafted from found objects such as wooden panels, yarn, tissue paper, and old photographs. The web formation and photographs made me think it was about family, but that’s just my interpretation. Either way, it was a really stunning work. This gallery shows some of Ohtake’s art if you want a better visual of what I saw!
After a whirlwind of travel, I finally took a bus down to Jinju, my home-away-from-home for the next year. It’s my first time living alone ever, and as one of seven kids, I’ve always shared some part of my home with another person. So it’s nice to have a space that’s all my own, but I’m also going to miss having a roommate!
As I began settling in, I also started training for my 학원 (hagwon, private academy). The semester begins in September, so for the remainder of August, I’ve been learning the ropes at my hagwon and getting the hang of things before I start teaching ‘officially’. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some bright students who are participating in an upcoming English speech competition, and it’s been such a delight. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
That’s all for this month’s recap! These are just a few snapshots into my life in Korea so far. I’m still planning to write more, so I’d love to know if there’s something specific you want to read about! As always, thanks for reading ♡.