Saturday, August 28, 2010

Looking Back

One week from today at 8 a.m. I will get on a plane and head back to the good ol' U.S. of A.  One year passes by pretty fast doesn't it?  All in all, I enjoyed my time here and today I had a lot of time to think about it (being sick will do that to you) and even though I didn't necessarily accomplish all of my original goals I have new goals and a lot of new knowledge.  Just goes to show you that what you may think you want or what you think is best for you is actually not.  I came here to be like 6-7 dan and even though I haven't accomplished that I have come much closer and I know how to get there if I want to.  What have I really learned then, if my main goal wasn't realized?

I learned that it makes much more sense to spend the time you are given in the pursuit of enjoying yourself or working towards enjoying yourself.  The kids taught me that.  Their parents pressure them into learning English.  Of course some parents do it more so than others but with the amount of money they pay to go to ECC they really want their children to learn.  What do the kids do in the face of all this pressure, of going to a school where the teachers don't speak their language?   They try their best but they do it in their own way.  They try to have fun with whatever they're doing.  If that means they have to take their storybook and make a hat out of it then that's what has to be done.  As a teacher it makes me nervous that they're not learning anything when they spend their time in class drawing themselves in a helicopter, gunning me down in my own home, but then again they turn around and bust out a perfect English sentence.

I learned that everybody is different and it's perfectly alright to not blend in a group but that if you put forth even the slightest amount of effort you can get along with a lot of people.  Everyone is not going to be your best friend but some people could be if you just give them a chance.  How did I learn this?  From other expats.  There are tons here, and a lot of people here might not have spent time to get to know me at all if we were in the U.S., but since we gotta stick together out here it makes you more open to working with people and being more flexible with whom you associate with.  This also leads to meeting more cool people who have tons of things to offer if you just open your ears and listen.

Self pity is a waste of time.  I won't go too much into detail here, but I had a long, LONG conversation with someone whose life experience was a lot like mine.  We both grew up with no father although his father was around for the first part of his life where mine wasn't.  That having been said, I don't know which is worse, knowing your father and then having him say "Bye" as opposed to never having met him.  I always rejected the "someone else has it worse" than you thing that people always say.  "It could be worse!" but I always thought "Well, it could be better too!" but actually there's no point in even thinking any of that.  Other people have things in their life that hurt them and you have things in your life that hurt you.  It's all about how you look at it.  In many ways, my life could've been a LOT worse with my father in the picture, so I could be lucky and should focus on that rather than being negative for no reason.

Don't care what people think about you.  This one comes from being stared at constantly.  I know I need a haircut when Koreans start staring at me and middle aged Korean women go wild eyed when I get on the bus.  The afro confuses the crap out of them.  I get stared at by children that don't go to hagwons (it's a tell tale sign) and I get stared at by old people when I speak English on a bus and they feel uncomfortable because they don't understand what's going on.  With all this staring going on, I just got to the point where I was like "I can't satisfy you no matter what I do so I'm just going to carry on with my life and you'll just have to re-order yours or continue staring practice."

All in all, it was totally worth it to make the trek out here and I'll be back.  While I'm in the U.S., I'll be working to promote my book series, write the next few books, do some Korean-English translations and just having a blast. comments